Inside the Enterprise Software Podcast: Interview with Bob McAdam

What is involved in producing a successful podcast?

Bob McAdam, one of the hosts of the Enterprise Software Podcast, along with Todd McDaniel and Darcy Boerio, shared his story with me about how their podcast started, what is involved in producing it and some of the benefits along the way.

Anya: When did you start the Enterprise Software Podcast and what made you decide to do it?

Bob: The podcast started in May 2014. I was working for Dynamic Communities out of my home office. Todd McDaniel had just bought a new location for his company, Dynavistics. He had space so he said, “Why don’t you come and work out of an office here.” I took him up on that idea because it seemed odd not to leave the house to go to work. Almost every time I showed up Todd and I would talk shop, you know: “Hey, did you see this news, did you hear about that person?” (Todd apparently had a bunch of podcasts that he listened to regularly.) So after 4 or 5 months of that, he called me up and he said, “Let's do a podcast!  We talk a lot of shop as it is, we may as well record it and put it up on a web site and see what happens.” I was a bit skeptical, but we decided to go for it.

Anya: Was it hard for you to get the technology set up to record the podcasts?

Bob: The podcast really wasn't hard to get set up. Todd ordered all of the components from Amazon: basically microphones, accompanying stands and a recording device. It was not overly expensive and it showed up within a couple of days.  So within 3 or 4 days of me agreeing to do this with him, Todd had the equipment ready and all figured out.

Anya: What was your goal with the podcast?

Bob: The goal was a combination of having fun and trying to get extra exposure and traffic for our companies and websites. A lot of people blog, a lot of people tweet and there are quite a few podcasts out there too. But it certainly seems that there are more written advertisements on the web than there are audio or video ones, so we felt this would stand out, particularly in this industry.

Anya: Who do you see as your target audience?

Bob: Our target audience is, as we say in the intro of each show, technology management end users, partners in the space and development resources. Anybody who has any kind of tie to mid-market software, be it ERP or CRM.

Anya: What made you switch the focus from Dynamics software to Enterprise software? 

Bob: Originally we called it the “Dynamics Podcast”, but Todd’s company, Dynavistics, writes code for more than just Dynamics.  He started writing code for Sage about a year or so ago, which prompted him to go to Sage Summit in 2014 just to see how many people would show up, what it was like, and how it compared to Convergence.  When he got back he wanted to do a podcast comparing the top ten differences between Sage Summit and Microsoft Convergence.   It was Episode No. 6 and we listed the Top 10 differences on that episode’s page.  When we compiled the statistics from that episode it was more popular than any others that we had done, so that made us think that perhaps there's a wider audience out there if we did more than just Dynamics. Clearly the Sage people, who didn't know us at all, had listened to that show and were interested in the comparison with Convergence.

Expanding also gives us more opportunities.  Sometimes we just run out of stuff to talk about if we try to stay within just Dynamics or just Microsoft.  By expanding it we can go wherever we want.  If there's news in one industry or one company, but nothing going on with Microsoft, then we've got an avenue to pick other topics.

Anya:      What made you decide to add a third host to the show?

Bob: When Todd and I decided that we were going to change the scope of the show from just Dynamics to Enterprise Software in general, we made several changes.  First was the name, second was the web site, third was the music, which was written by Todd’s brother-in-law who is a musician. Then we decided to add Darcy Boerio from Website Pipeline as our third host. Darcy was a featured guest on Episode 5 when she worked at Avalara.  We wanted to work with Darcy because she has a lot of contacts in the Sage space that Todd and I do not have.  And as it turns out, she happens to live a half a mile down the street from Todd's office. 

So between her contacts, her years of experience in the channel as a whole and the fact that we could get a hold of her when we needed to, it just made sense for her to join the show.  We felt that if we were going to make adjustments, we should make them all at once at the beginning of the year. We wanted to make the changes big so that the transition from Dynamics Podcast to something wider was more than apparent.

Anya: I personally like that you added a female voice to your show, was that a consideration?

Bob: I have female friends in the space who were very happy to hear that news, and I understand the whole diversity thing, but we chose Darcy primarily because of her connections in the Sage space. So she’s not just there for the different voice. Darcy brings a lot of value to the show, and it’s more than evident.

Anya: Microsoft Dynamics and Sage seem the most predominant, but do you talk about other enterprise software packages also?

Bob:  We interviewed the partner recruiting director at Acumatica in Episode 21, and we spent a decent amount of time talking about NetSuite in Episode 22, particularly since NetSuite started running on Azure, which was announced at the SuiteWorld 2015 conference a few months back.

Anya: How do you come up with your topic ideas?

Bob:  The three of us scan the news and see what's going on; then we generally have a little production meeting ahead of time to decide which questions we will use and who will ask them. We make sure we all know the specific order to follow. Usually we end up with more news topics than we have time to cover, which is a good problem.

Anya:      How much time would you say that you invest in the podcast? 

Bob: It takes a decent amount of time from all of us.  It's probably 4 to 6 hours a week because we're either recording the current one or planning the next one. That includes chasing down an interviewee over email or writing questions or looking for articles that might be interesting to talk about. Then of course we have to get together and decide what makes the cut for that week and what doesn't.  When it started out as a hobby, it was going to be fun; it was going to be a marketing mechanism for Todd and me. Then we added Darcy to the mix and now we have to coordinate three people instead of two plus the interviewee on Skype.  On Episode No. 25, we had two interviewees, so we had to coordinate both of them. There is a lot more time involved than I realized, but that is not discouraging me from keeping it going.  I am enjoying this.  It's been fun to talk.

Anya: Is it hard to get people to agree to be interviewed on the show?

Bob:  I don’t think so.  We’ve all got a lot of friends in the space thus we have a lot of folks to choose from.  In most cases when we have interviewed someone from a specific company, we ask them to use social media to get the message out about their appearance.  They generally have been pretty willing to do that because the whole idea is to promote a company or an application or a person in that space to the general audience.  There are no “gotchas” on Enterprise Software Podcast.  If we have you coming on the show, we want you to toot your own horn and tell us what you're doing and promote your business.  We're not out to get anybody or back them into a corner.  We want to promote the industry as a whole because it's a good industry and it's unique.  That is what makes this a more relaxed, yet informative program. We haven't had too many people turn us down for interviews – none, actually.

Anya: Have there been any embarrassing moments on air or do you edit those out?

Bob: Oh yeah, we edit out all the embarrassing moments. It is not a live production, and we have a very good mixer, a guy in Las Vegas we found on, who has done some nice things.  He has all the professional mixing equipment so he takes out the dead air, adds the sound effects and mixes the music on the front and the back.  So we have control over what goes up there.  Anything that's embarrassing or where we stumble, that gets edited out with the greatest of ease. 

Anya: Have you had anything come up that surprised you?  Perhaps an interview that didn't go the direction you thought?

Bob: The biggest problem we seem to have is time.  We would like the podcast to be between 30 and 35 minutes, that's the goal.  Actually, the initial goal was 30 minutes or less, but we have a lot of questions for the guests, and you never know before you begin speaking with them how much they are going to speak.  Some people are good at elaborating and they can talk for a long, long time.  Then you have to decide if the content that they deliver really is good or is it too lengthy. And if it's too lengthy what pieces do we have to carve out. That can be difficult.

Anya: What have been some of your favorite interviews?

Bob: We talked to Dynamic Communities CEO Andy Hafer in Episode 10, who is a key component in the Dynamics space.  We talked to Hal Howard, twice, in Episode 9 when he first parted ways with Microsoft and then again in Episode 25 when Nadella made some significant changes with the Dynamics business unit, and he's really knowledgeable and is ratings juggernaut for sure.  We had great downloads that episode Hal Howard was on with Mark Polino to discuss the changes at Microsoft.  In Episode 13 we had my former colleague, Dwight Specht, who used to work at I.B.I.S and ePartners. His interview was most certainly interesting.  We carved a few things out of that interview because we didn't think it was appropriate, but he's a very knowledgeable guy, and let’s just say, he's not afraid to be blunt.  His comments on data being able to save foster kids’ lives was pretty amazing, too.

Anya: Who would you love to interview? 

Bob: Satya Nadella would be a good interview, of course. Doug Burgum would be a good interview, although I doubt Doug would talk much about software and Dynamics GP because he's really moved on to other things. He made his last speech at reIMAGINE 2014, and that was probably all we will hear from him. 

Anya: You said you were a little skeptical in the beginning, so what's been the most fun or the best benefit you've seen from doing the podcast?

Bob:  There's been a level of notoriety because no one in the Dynamics space that I know of, and I have a lot of friends in this space as does Todd, has really done anything like this before; it's kind of unique.  Sage extended all three of us media passes to cover Sage Summit in July.  Normally someone like me, who's only vested in the Dynamics arena, doesn't go to Sage Summit, but this year I went and it was a superb show, too.  Also, I've had the chance to interview and meet a lot of great people that I might never have come in contact with without the podcast.

Anya: What are your plans for the future?

Bob: Our plans for the future are similar to what we're doing now so we can grow organically.  We want to continue to do an average of two shows a month. We are all busy with full-time jobs so we want to be realistic, but consistent; we have a “we're not going away” attitude.  We would like to garner sponsorship soon; that would be wonderful. And hopefully we will continue to drive traffic to our various companies and get some notoriety by leveraging a unique program that really no one else in our space is doing. We want to have the widest coverage possible and continue meeting great people along the way.

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By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing

Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg