Microsoft and its Cornucopia of Products: How Power Tools are Transforming Business

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You join here, not to be cool, but to make others cool.”

                                                                                     – Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft

Would you think that “Making others cool” should be the new tagline for Microsoft? Well if you attended the MBA Summit in Atlanta recently, you’d see lots of Microsoft employees walking around with an aura that emits this attitude, don’t get me wrong, all of them were humble, very approachable and with a problem-solving mindset.

When you look at the cornucopia of products that Microsoft has been churning out you might start wondering if Satya Nadella is walking around in a Yoda like demeanor reminding Microsoft employees their new mantra.

You’ll have to see it to believe this. At the MBA Summit, there were a plethora of examples that demonstrated this.

Here are some use cases and the products that I came across and their use cases they solve, this will give you a thirty-thousand-foot view of how you might leverage some of the products.

Get to know your customers better

A Customer from the entertainment industry is trying to find insights into how they can up-sell to his/her customers. Questions that kept popping in his/her mind were like- how many visits did the customer make, how many of them visited, what games did they play, what kind of food was ordered. Let’s say there is a middle-aged customer who visits every quarter with his friends, purchases arcade games and buys food items like burgers, fries, etc. Is there a potential to up-sell beer maybe, or sell merchandise like t-shirts, beer/coffee mugs with the group’s photo, etc. To find out such kind of insights you will need a product that can analyze your CRM data. Here comes Microsoft Customer Insights product.

Customer Insights can give a 360-degree view of a customer based on the data gathered by various observational, behavioral and transactional aspects. As customer-centricity is at the heart of every organization’s culture today, Customer Insights can empower you to connect with your clients with ease. You will be eliminating the data siloed culture and driving personalized engagement ethos through the verticals of marketing, sales, and service. You can provide your customers with out-of-the-box strategies, personalized interactions, identify subtle opportunities to effectively target your resources. In the era of digital transformation, Customer Insight is what JARVIS was to Iron Man. You are already better; it just gives you an edge to be the best.

 Expose interactive reports to your users without incurring additional license costs 

Say a customer has an application that keeps track of your customer’s facilities data. You need to let your customers use self-service reports. In the past, you’d generate these reports in SSRS and attach them in your web application. There are some limitations to these:

  1. You cannot let your customers interact with these reports and see the data in different views
  2. Buy licenses from a cloud-based reporting provider and end up paying hefty sums for each user that accesses your reports

PowerBI ends this limitation as you can get a single license, move data to Azure or have Azure tap into on-prem data and embed these reports in your web application. No more license fee for your users. When you need to mold, extract and transform data into the way you prefer, you can do it seamlessly as it will be stored in Azure. Microsoft is offering Azure services for its customers to extend and customize products. With Azure and Power BI, you can take the next step in applied business intelligence and make data work for you real-time.

Embed CAD diagrams in reports

Imagine yourself driving in sweltering heat and badly wanting to be in a cold climate enjoying a hot cup of cocoa with tiny marshmallows. Pity! you cannot transport yourself to the mountains, you do not have a TARDIS neither you are Doctor Who. What do you do? Switch on the ac. Power BI is the air conditioner to your massive, heated data. You can control the temperature, swing the fan according to your choice and even set a time. This analogy will make more sense when you view your data into neatly arranged dashboards, reports with just a hit of a button. Amidst the hullabaloo of complicated reports and several dashboards, Power BI with its features of online analytical processing, creation of live reports, ability to insert CAD diagrams seamlessly will definitely make you “cool” (pun intended).

Overlaying CAD data onto reports to give a visual representation of what inspections have been completed, failed, pending, etc. showing the progress. In an infrastructure company, it is vital to be cognizant of all the minute changes that have been made at every step of the way.  Using these diagrams in the reports will allow the users to get clarity on the progress, for example, the construction of a building. What shape is the building at; can there be any changes made to the current structure, and so on.  With Microsoft Power BI, you can have a unified report explaining the status of your construction at one go. The report can not only use the diagram, but you can color-code it to make it visually impactful. The cherry on top is that you can extract the illustration from say, a non-Microsoft application and embed it easily into the report. You can have the cake and eat it too!

Curtail your costs

Let’s say you have a massive field operation where a third party is servicing your plant locations or something to that extent. If you create visualization dashboards you can quickly gain insights into where you the spending is not needed. Few energy companies are doing this today using Power BI to achieve cost savings. Power BI enables you to keep a track of the areas collecting, storing and analyzing sensor data in real-time. You will gain unparalleled capabilities in visualization, operational intelligence, maintenance, monitoring, configuration, and overall asset management.

Take an example of a trucking company; you have realized that a fleet of trucks remain idle for a certain period of time during a specific day of the week or so. This is a drain on your finances. With the help of a Microsoft Power BI report, you can find out the gaps in work allocation and deploy your resources based on the tasks and skillsets easily. This eliminates the need for any overtime or working on weekends. And can save a lot of wear and tear on the equipment, vehicles or any tools used to get the work done.

Say goodbye to spreadsheet

Say you have various (think 30 or 40+) spreadsheets that your users have to plug in data to arrive at a solution. I would like to cite the example of a drilling company. Let’s say they had been using MS Excel as it is the go-to tool for any kind of data with numbers and figures.  Excel, at one point, had given us an array of spreadsheets to use, filter and various kinds of lookups for the work to be done.   Now for this company, it was important that every single number, unit was updated to the ‘T’. This involved updating the spreadsheets every single time and each individual had different areas to monitor therefore it was saved under different labels. One spreadsheet at one point had too many variants, each containing a vital piece of data. The result-massive data entry and the rise of complex spreadsheets. For a single piece of information, a user had to sift through several workbooks to find the answer. Think about the time and energy used for one particular question. It’s even exhausting to think about the 30/40 sheets that one had to go through for a single query, let alone actually rummage through the several rows of data.

The problem with Excel is, that it doesn’t scale well. Microsoft Power Apps provides an incredible UX. Its drag and drop feature is a cakewalk and it’s based on an intuitive visual builder that doesn’t require traditional coding. Power Apps has been built keeping the Excel user in mind. If you are looking for a tool with ‘data inclusion’ as its core, Power Apps is your answer. You can be technologically restricted and still use it and that’s the beauty of it. Microsoft has integrated Power Apps into Dynamics 365, so users can customize and share apps to do their jobs better. It can even integrate with your existing ERP system making your business life a breeze.

Apps that talk to each other

You cannot go wrong with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for streamlining your sales process and aligning the other verticals. It integrates with all other products that Microsoft has in its kitty, Power BI, Power Apps, Flow, and even Outlook. You can build a stronger marketing strategy by letting it talk to a marketing automation tool for let’s say- email marketing, campaign automation, web forms, surveys and sundry. You can use a document creation tool to chalk out a proposal during the sales period within D365. It has a scalable quality which allows you to store proposals, contracts, quotes, and other sales-related documents. You can view the current status of any of the documents once you log in to the Dynamics platform.

Within Dynamics 365 CRM, you can access analytics tools (dashboards, advanced find reports, etc.). By integrating a business intelligence tool like Power BI with your CRM and the other systems you use to run your business, you can bring meaningful data from across your company under one umbrella. This kind of integration will help you gain quick insights and enable you to make real-time business decisions.

Get the ‘Yes!’ quicker

A salesperson may take more than 24 hours to get approval from the higher-ups. Now considering the nature of the approval and the timeline, you may lose the interest of the customer. This can happen in a scenario wherein all the internal parties concerned have to go through innumerable sheets, understand the analytics and whatnot. Imagine the amount of time being wasted for one approval.

Now with a CRM system facilitated with an ability to integrate with several other applications gets your salesperson the approval within a few hours. This is actually happening in a lot of companies. The business transformation era had begun a long time ago when Microsoft decided to launch D365. Now a sales team can easily meet their targets, get the approvals and scout for leads all thanks to a unified system. What the 1980’s Rolodexes had envisioned, Microsoft has taken it a several notches higher to make business transactions seamless, swifter and efficient.

What Microsoft is doing is really game-changing, no wonder their market cap has crossed 1Trillion. But guess what, Satya Nadella had to say when a reporter asked him about the IT market cap-

I would be disgusted if somebody ever celebrated our market cap,

With that kind of mindset, Microsoft is really focused on empowering their customers to solve problems.

We consciously try to make the lives of our clients easier. We provide workable solutions for staffing and CRM. With our dedicated Consultants, we at AhaApps are rolling up our sleeves and enjoying creating cool things with Microsoft products for our customers.  Schedule a free consultation with us if you want to know more about our talent management and CRM solutions today.

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