Juan Chinchilla, director of the Business Applications unit at Microsoft
Juan Chinchilla has been the director of Microsoft’s Business Applications unit since the end of last year. In practice, it manages the business of Dynamics 365, the platform on which well-known products such as Nav or CRM have been integrated. And the Power Platform part is also under his responsibility, which includes functionalities such as Power BI and synchronization with mobile applications. Chinchilla has been in the industry for more than 20 years, first at Dell and then at Lenovo, where he was CEO for Iberia.
In this interview, he explains how his unit is dealing with the crisis and helping partners and clients go through a difficult time. Chinchilla acknowledges that some projects have stopped, especially those related to the pure and simple financial management of companies, but he also says that others have taken flight, such as virtualization of the position and remote work. Also, it ensures that customers’ migration to the cloud continues. As a consequence, in recent quarters, Microsoft’s applications unit has grown at a rate of 40% year-over-year.
How has the Dynamics 365 business evolved since the start of the health crisis? How are the projects that were in the portfolio doing?
The Business Applications business is having a very positive evolution. During the last quarter, the growth of this division is over 40%. Also, in the last year, we have had a turning point. The company launched a major investment program. The project was “Dynamics 1000”, which consisted of having 1,000 more employees in Business Applications in the world. In Spain, there are commercial teams that have doubled with this investment.
What part of your business has suffered the most and which has progressed in these two months of confinement and digitization accelerated by mass teleworking?
There has been a freeze on projects. Especially of the projects where you touch the core of the company’s business. Companies are waiting to see how the economic situation evolves. We are talking about customer service (CRM) and financial operations. Although the migration of these solutions to the cloud environment, which is one of our great bets, continues in many companies. But it is also true that this situation has accelerated others aimed at digitizing and transforming virtual environments and remote work. This situation has brought about in two months the changes that were to take place in five years.
What scenarios do you contemplate from your Business Applications unit for the next few months?
We work to help our partners and clients deal with a difficult situation. The corporation also supports us at least until the end of the year in this policy. Specifically, we have launched a program that offers, in solutions for remote work, free six-month licenses. We have also placed financial resources in the hands of the partners so that they can help with the development of projects and their implementation with clients. We have also invested in improving our learning program. We have relaxed certain measures of the certification programs, especially the dates. And we have transformed certain solutions to a monthly payment, to facilitate customer financing.
A few years ago, you unified a large part of your business management products around the Dynamics 365 suite, which is also offered as a cloud service. What has been the experience to date? To what extent has the technology consumption experience of Spanish companies changed?
In these last five years, the world has changed remarkably. Knowledge of the entire cloud universe is much greater today than it was five years ago. Customers recognize that thanks to the cloud they can have secure data, in a reliable place, and with access from anywhere and connected to all applications and solutions. We have an annual investment capacity insecurity that a separate client does not have. We invest 1,000 million dollars annually and we have more than 3,000 engineers for this work.
But we continue to work with clients on migration programs. We have programs, called FastTrack, designed for the client to fully understand how the migration of their on-premise situation to the cloud will be, what the phases will be, and with what resources to work it in the most competitive way possible.
You have wide visibility of the digitization processes of companies in this country. What are the pending subjects that still have to be approved for national companies? From what I understand, the question is not to already have a powerful ERP or CRM, but AI or analytics add-ons that take real advantage of that information and allow the manager to anticipate the circumstances.
Companies need a cultural change and also human resources prepared for it. We are helping clients to do this migration in a very pragmatic and very useful way. With an example, you can understand what I am saying. I can think of artificial intelligence with very sophisticated projects, but this intelligence is also in the finance solution, with a visualizer that projects the capacity of collections with a client based on their history and the self-learning of the system. There we contribute AI is something that the client did not have. To know the payment capacity of their clients, the managers previously had to go outside the system and look for the information elsewhere. But now they have that data in our financial application automatically.
Another interesting solution is that now our platform transcribes the conversation that we have with a client and depending on the feeling detected by the AI in that conversation, a red, yellow, or green face appears, informing us of the possible perception it has on the client with the information we are providing you. As I said, this is a very close artificial intelligence, very practical, and without an investment in very sophisticated developments.
What distribution channel does Microsoft have to market Dynamics 365 and Power Platform? I mean a certified channel that remains active commercially.
We have invested 50% more resources in training and certification this fiscal year than last year. Regarding the number of partners in my unit, I cannot reveal it. But I can tell you that a good part of the investment in certifications is directed to Dynamics. We want many partners who were selling platform and Office to transform into the applications business. We have specific solutions for the SME environment, such as Business Central, an all-in-one solution that can be implemented in an agile way.
In what situation is this channel with the crisis? I say this because the previous economic crisis swept away several Dynamics partners, especially those who were most exposed to real estate and construction, the sector most affected on that occasion.
There is economic uncertainty in Spain and worldwide. We are supporting our partners to manage this in the most competitive way possible and turn to help their clients. The partner must be the facilitator of customer solutions. Financing and payment dilution programs are required now, but they will be required in any situation. Migration to the cloud involves a monthly payment peruse, and this scheme works perfectly in this situation.
On the other hand, our partners are finding it difficult to find people prepared and certified to enter a career such as Business Applications. And that is why we are helping them, with programs such as Alumno 4.0, a program for university students and recent graduates that guarantees that young people enter jobs in our partners with guaranteed training in advance. This program, which we developed with the Ministry and with other companies, has already managed to train 100 professionals.