AJ Ansari on The MVP Show

AJ Ansari on The MVP Show

AJ Ansari
Microsoft Business Applications MVP


  • Life and family background of AJ Ansari – country of origin, favourite food and what he does when not working. 
  • Talks about AJ’s journey into technology and how did it come about. 
  • AJ talks about his Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power Platform background 
  • How AJ got involved in ERP software 
  • Find out how AJ started his career as a marketing intern and as a consultant 
  • A conversation about how AJ ended up becoming a Microsoft MVP. 
  • AJ chats about his interest in Power BI and Power wraps 
  • Introduction to Microsoft Project Madeira 
  • The modern development techniques for Dynamics 365 Business Central 
  • What’s AJ’s passion project he is working on these days?   

Microsoft MVP YouTube Series - How to Become a Microsoft MVP
90-Day Mentoring Challenge - https://ako.nz365guy.com/
AJ’s GitHub: https://github.com/ajansari
Power Community: https://events.powercommunity.com/speaker/aj_ansari/ 

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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith


[mark]: today's guest is from texas in the united states he works for d s w as the chief operating officer he was first awarded as n v p in twenty eighteen he's a regular speak and panalistic conferences and user group meetings he speaks on technical process improvement as well as real world business topics he's passionate about power b and the power platform you can find links to his bio linked in twitter et cetera all in the show notes for this episode so take a look there welcome to the show AJ

[aj_ansari]: thank you mark it's a pleasure being on the show i've heard a lot about it so good to finally have my turn isn't

[mark]: excellent

[aj_ansari]: this is exciting

[mark]: yeah good to have you on what's what's your specialist area you know if we look at there's over tweeniniron products dynamics products now plus all the power platform space what's been your specialist to set of how you've that you have developed in your career

[aj_ansari]: oh so it would bar none be dynamic three six five business central or what we in our world historically have known as dynamic nave or division even so that's that's been the product that most pack it about that's a product have worked in almost my entire career and that's that's also why are how i ended up on the mvp side now i'm passionate about some other products in technology power b i just absolutely love it do a lot of interesting fun stuff with that and trying to get more and more into other power platform stuff like power wraps but it's if there one that so much of my life and my career focused around it's business central joy work fun all of it

[mark]: i love it i love it so before we unpack that a bit more tell us a bit about you know where you live what you do when you're not doing technical or i d related stuff but about your family

[aj_ansari]: sure so i live in houston texas now i'm originally arabic an indian that's my heritage and grown up in south arabia moved to the states for education and i stayed it was great you love living here got an opportunity to work here and you made a life there so lived in florida for for a long time if somebody asked me just you know on this where you're from i'm more likely to say i'm from florida than i have to say where i'm originally from because i spent so much time there but we moved to texas in twenty fourteen it's become our home we absolutely love it we've got two kids my wife and i met over here in florida as well she's from turkey so that's become part of my heritage i think i speak better turkish now than probably any other language after after english so we're goin to fifteen sixteen years we've got two little critters nine and four um and what do i do for fun when i'm not when i'm not working formula one i think has to rise to the top huge formula one fan uh love le goes and i think right now there's this fun little project that my daughter and i are working on we got ourselves a lego technic mc claren f one car and we're going to do that you we built a little mercedes m g f when formula one car with a lego with legosnow we're going to be doing the larger i think it's a fourteen hundred piece so beset so that's good fun we formula one i could talk about it for hours love soccer and love a lot of other things but yeah

[mark]: so have you been to turkey much

[aj_ansari]: yeah i have so before i met my wife i lived there for about three and a half years or so i went to college there and i think my time there and my little bit of introduction to the language definitely helped when i met my wife much later in orlando so yeah we still go still go whenever we can just i stumbles a beautiful city like you just this good mix of old you know you see you can see buildings that are five hundred years old and right next to them are you know some nice sky scrapers so yeah it's it's such a joy to go back there and great food too

[mark]: the food is amazing right definitely as my wife and i have spent some time in turkey as well when we used to live up in europe and for every kew or new zealander everyone is part of our education is all around turkey because back in the second world war there's a thing called an zaxsand the australian and new zealand army that went and fought there and got decimated got absolutely wiped out under the british kind of rule at the time and and so it's kind of like it's a pilgrimage that a lot of kees do is go to glipaly you know just outside of eastern bull as as a place of remembrance of our history yeah

[aj_ansari]: i did not know that because i know about the galiply part of history but more from a turkish perspective right i don't think i've ever had an opportunity to read about it from from the from the other perspective so i'm glad you got a chance to go there i think i'm very fortunate that all the places that that i can tie our hairitage back to just has great food i mean whether we're talking about indian food or good old south arabian big food or turkish food just food glorying for anybody who can't see me on the camera i mean when you look at me you can tell i like my food right

[mark]: we we definitely went and you know when we were there went to some very specific sure i can't remember the name but my wife had them all plotted out based on you know their knowing for their cuisine and their authenticity and things like that and you know for me also danbround

[aj_ansari]: right

[mark]: wrote a book and that centered around the you know the big underground it's like there's big underground water reservoir that you can go down into um and it's next to the two big the two big mosques that you see there on the uh it's just amazing because in this book he features at like a whole underground event was happening and it was a spread of a virus that then went all out around the world and it was so good to go and actually go to that system that underground area is just an amazing experience es

[aj_ansari]: i didn't know about it but i'm going to have to ask my wife she used to be a tour guide when when she was in college so maybe she can tell me a thing or two about it

[mark]: yeah yeah yeah so it's so epic tell me about your technology journey how did you get into it how did you get where you are now

[aj_ansari]: would you believe it if i said it was an accidental career i think when i was a senior in college and i was looking for you know coming into my senior year looking for you now what am i going to do and you know you go to your career experiential learning services type of center in your college and you look around and come down with three internship opportunity so one was with our local cable company one was with an environmental engineering firm and one was with a company that sells erp software and was in fee and i think no what piece stood for helped me get that job because my brother was involved in erp software but with an entirely different with different publisher and so i showed up for the interview you know and i think among other things i told them i knew that it was enterprise we started planning i really did know much more than that they decided to make an offer and would you believe it seventeen years later no wait if i could do him mat yeah fifteen seventeen years later i'm still in this in this field so that's how my my career started as a marketing intern t an r p firm that that later led to some off ortunities for me to learn and then express an interest in doing some pre sale work and training others got me started on my journey as a consultant over time as i was coming through her ranks i had an opportunity to be a practice leader to be a pre sale leader in different capacities these organizations and in twenty a team i came to s w with an opportunity to come on forward as as ohe the one of the executives and as a partner in this organization and it was it was when i can resist and i've been here for the last four going on five years now just absolutely glad i'm here love it you've got a great team of about twenty six people were boutique organization almost everybody in our or has business central experience so it's kind of in our d n a including our founder in our co co so feel very much at home here it's my tribe

[mark]: how do you feel about the journey because you know you've seen a lot in that time from you know no vision n a v m and then into the business central landscape how has that journey been for you were there any time that you were worried about it it's where it was going you know even though i don't specifically in that product area i observed a lot of what was going on through that journey what's it been like for you

[aj_ansari]: uh it's been interesting so when i first came into the division world i think we were you probably remember and appreciate project green right i think i came towards a tail end of project green being a fad and folks realizing that wasn't actually going to happen and so you know i heard a little bit about it and then fast forward about a year or two in as when microsoft made some significant changes to how your dynamics products looked they added this role taylor inter face right kind of a little more of these activity cues and stacks of paper and kind of changing the way the inter face behaved and what not making more intuitive as a matter of fact found and uncovered a white paper on that whole role tailoring concept which a friend might have microsoft was was part of i found that out much later still without going too much off on tangents coming to your question uh that was a major change and i think folks who are around for a long time they struggled with it because there was who moved my cheese moment i was early in my enough in my adventure to where that change didn't rattle me it was still coming to terms still learning um and so i think i really had an opportunity to jump feet first and and kind of become fond of it become an evangelist for it i think that was also pivotal to my career growth um and what i realized this as we moved a few years forward that what microsoft had done there were some solid breaking type of changes that really affected the division community but what they did in two thousand nine is really what put nave and now business central in the driver's seat that it is compared to some of the other products like k or l both they were really good products they still have a very loyal fan base or a very loyal user based i don't think it's for lack of functionality but microsoft i think tore apart in a vision a little bit more than they did the others it affected people who are in the community but in so doing positioned as well to be the s and b product the one that went to the cloud as a sass product right we saw that again i think microsoft saw one with some successful risk that they could do it again when they introduced project madeira in the first as version as it were of dynamic nav that impacted our business quite a bit i think you know customers not knowing what they should do partners not sure if this product is going to be you truly where micro was going to end up where microsoph thought it would should we invest our time in our effort in it should we not what type of business should we target all of those things came in but again i was fortunate to i think to be with a product and be with a partner that was willing to really invest in you know and so the journey was interesting it certainly wasn't without its twits twists and turns but i think i was fortunate either in my timing or in the organizations that i worked at that they were they were open minded right i think whenever change happens the c organization s react one or two ways either they just kind of get into our little shell and go we're not going to do this any differently this is what's worked and this is what we're going to be or organizations that say you know what changes and opportunity so i think god it's fortunate from that perspective that they believed in change being an opportunity

[mark]: it's good in a way project green kind of did get executed on right we went from four r p related solutions and we're now down with two right because i know and i know the g p listeners there might go hang on a second g p is still live and well yeah it is but

[aj_ansari]: absolutely it is

[mark]: it doesn't have a road map right and and i haven't heard anybody i've never met anybody that implemented s l never on i've never heard of that product mentioned now for for for five years so i don't know how much in store based it has i know that g p is you know in a way you could classify as a historic cash cow for microsoft right makes good money without any more investment it's not a strategic direction but it's it makes money right on renewals and things like that so um and the last figger i heard was a decent amount of cash so i can understand that but strategically

[aj_ansari]: right

[mark]: obviously business central and then dynamics three six five finance and the various modules associated with that is the future scope of where microscope is going which is which is interesting because i always thought that b c i thought that goal was just everything was going to be dynamic three six five finance and it's interesting that b c has

[aj_ansari]: yeah

[mark]: has continued to grow has continued to get a following has become a big thing in its own right um you know alongside donamixtury six five finance

[aj_ansari]: yeah and i think the business central application has maybe in some ways for better or for worse has struggled with what its identity and placement in the market is one we know that final that f n s c m application is going to be great in the upper mid market and kind of touching that enterprise space and you know there isn't a lot of opportunity for it to come down market right just cost prohibitive or a a lot of time to implement because it's targeted at a different space

[mark]: totally totally

[aj_ansari]: and i think b c's become a little bit of everything for everyone where you below the market space within which c place so you have partners cus who focus a lot on bigger implementation projects with manufacturers and oil and gas companies and so we're focusing on you know biggs m b or lower entry point of the midmarket and you also have a lot of partners who are experiencing a lot of success with just out of quick books crowd or maybe even first accounting application crowd right they're focusing on the the more prescriptive approach and so i think microsoft finding that there's just so much so much space within which business central seems to do well it's what partners want to do with it and how well they can do that whether it's prescriptive or consultative whether it's a smaller business or larger business complexity or simplicity it seems to be able to do a lot of that quite well so yeah i think right now the status quo i think will remain they have they've narrowed it down called a little bit of you well from four to two and i want to use that word calling very with full all due respect to our friends on the t p n s l side but that the point that you made right i think we see that it's now really two car race in the in the microsoft world and these cars are not racing against each other i think these these are two different entries from microsoph two different categories if you will

[mark]: yeah yeah i totally agree it's like having the choice of back lava or ice cream right because

[aj_ansari]: yep like to i see what you did there

[mark]: i could say they're two flavors of ice cream because they're not really right but they're two different dessert dishes

[aj_ansari]: no absolutely

[mark]: so so what are your passion projects at the moment

[aj_ansari]: so one of the ones that i want to focus on this year is or maybe just take a little bit of a step back and talk about how this ties into my passion project and what i'm doing came with a background as a consultant right i was implementation implement or consultant and so that was the functional side of things was my world i became a little bit of a developer out of necessity initially becaus i sat squarely between two developers and our team back at expanded and they were very helpful but they were also focusing on larger development test and when i have smaller requirements from customers either wait in q to get them helped or they were more than willing to help me learn some so i could do some of those things myself and so that's how i learned to do some basic development in division fast forward microsoft made this major technology change moving us to the cloud they also changed the business central the development language and the development environment for dynamic snap in business central into a modern development language using visual studio code of the new language is called Al and i found myself suddenly kind of know looking at a book written latin right and went from somebody who would be a certified developer who maybe didn't do as much development all the time but certainly understood and did development reasonably well to somebody who just was on the outside looking in so i had to teach myself a little bit even though at that point wasn't writing code but i was still interfacing with our consulting team and you know it helped when i could understand what they were doing so i could relate to them could maybe explain to them how things you know what i wanted and so i started teaching myself i went to some red carpet events from microsoft i looked around and you know with some trial and error learned certain things and i realized that there was a real need for this the other functional among the other functional consultants that were out there in the market place so i tried this concept out of a l or development for the functional consultant as a session internally within our company resonated with our people i said let's do a web nar that drew some crowds and over time it became from a thirty minute web in r to a series of five or six different things that done to where it's now a almost at every conference that i go to i end up doing some of these types of things it's usually a smaller workshop a larger workshop when our session it's called ale for the functional consultant and so this year what i want to do around is that some more structure to it and maybe create either you know a log or kind of a series of youtubevideos and eventually culminating in a book and self publish a book around ale for for the consultant and have that basically be it's for a tribe it's not for the native developer i think there's plenty of tools out there great tools out there for somebody who's got a development back round and wants to learn a language or business central what this is for is the functional consultant who could do some some basic tasks some examples you know adding a field to a table you know writing a quick script or processing report to do some automation adding a little action on the ribbon those are things the developers have long done and so how do we train them to do it and do it correctly because that's the other part were moving from isolated development environments to where people are working in a collaborative environment

[mark]: totally

[aj_ansari]: with ple developers you don't want to just train people how to do it and then step on everybody's toes

[mark]: exactly

[aj_ansari]: I want them to know how to do it in a way where the development manager doesn't want to find me and hurt me right so for teaching them these secrets so i want to do it right and i think that's that's my passion project i think it could be

[mark]: i like it

[aj_ansari]: definitely an endeavor that takes more than a year to do i hope you know coming out on the other side of it there will be a community that absolutely loves it because i get rave reviews on these sessions that i do

AJ AnsariProfile Photo

AJ Ansari

AJ Ansari is a 'recovering consultant' with 15 years of experience working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly NAV) and a Microsoft MVP since 2018. He is also a recipient of the BCUG / NAVUG All-Star and the Directions North America Under 40 Excellence awards, and a member of the Business Journals Leadership Trust.

Before joining DSWi as a Partner and COO in 2018, he served as a practice leader, presales specialist and product evangelist at well-known NAV partners in North America. AJ currently serves on the BCUG Board of Advisors and is the IAMCP Houston Chapter President, and a longstanding member of the content committees for the Directions North America and BCUG Summit conferences.

He is a prolific public speaker and has been presenting sessions on Business Central, Power BI, sales, and leadership topics at partner and user-group conferences since 2012.