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Microsoft Partner Puts Office 'Sway' App into Action

The tempo of new product releases from Microsoft presents a challenge for partners to stay ahead of customers.

Sway, Microsoft's new presentation solution, is getting attention from the press but is as new to most partners as it is to their customers. One partner jumped in with both feet to be the first to introduce Sway to its customers.

Like most people in charge of creating content, Greg Treanor, vice president of Atlanta-based RoseBud Technologies, is always on the lookout for relevant news he can share with his customers. Filtering through his partner newsletters, Treanor noticed that the Sway preview was open and requested access. He received the invite for Sway as he was creating RoseBud's November newsletter, so he took the opportunity to show and tell.

"I wanted to show people that we are forward-thinking and paying attention. While it may not be a core business tool, it is a differentiator," Treanor said. "And it was an opportunity to show our customers one more way that they can use the tools from Microsoft."

From start to finish, it took Treanor about five hours to create the Sway. "You have to figure out how to lay out your content and media. There is sequence that you need to follow," he explained. "It was just the initial learning curve that took so long. Next time, it will take me half the time at most."

Aside from basic how-tos, there is not much formal guidance yet available for Sway. "Like many things cloud, there isn't any documentation." Treanor said. "It took some trial and error, but the tool is well-designed and I was able to accomplish what I set out to do."

Treanor sent out the RoseBud November newsletter in the traditional e-mail format, offering readers the option to jump to the Sway version (see above) in the first paragraph. Readers were definitely interested based on the e-mail performance statistics that Treanor pulled for the November mailing:

  • Of the readers who opened the newsletter, 70 percent uniquely clicked on Sway related content.
  • In comparison to the previous two editions, clicks on links within the newsletter were up 160 percent.

According to Treanor, there is currently no tracking capability in Sway, so he does not have feedback on reader activity on the site. There are many more features promised for future releases, so that may be on the horizon.

Treanor definitely plans to use Sway again. "For us, it's been important to stay consistent with the monthly newsletter, sharing news that is relevant to our customers' business," Treanor said. "We're always looking to differentiate ourselves, and Sway was effective. I was pleasantly surprised to see to see how many customers clicked through."

There is also a logistical benefit of using Sway as a newsletter based on its native ability to adapt to any viewing device. As Treanor points out, "When creating our e-mail newsletters we have to be cognizant of how it will appear on a mobile device or tablet. In Sway, the layout will adapt on the fly to the medium that is used to view it."

Treanor sees a multitude of uses for Sway in all types of businesses. "The tool is so broad in its utility, it can be a useful across industries. A real estate agent could use it to build a flyer for a house. A construction management company could use it for project updates. It could support a board of directors' meeting. The list goes on," Treanor said. "All done easily. There is no programming involved at all. The process is all drag-and-drop."

With the pace of change in our industry, the winners will be those who seize opportunities and boldly lead the way for customers. Perhaps all of this provides a unique opportunity for partners like RoseBud, which has 10 employees. There is no lag time between decision and action. Through Treanor's quick response, RoseBud demonstrated to its customers that it continues to lead the way in technology.

One note: If you want to use Sway soon, apply for your invitation right away. It has been over a week since I requested one, and while I got an immediate acknowledgment of my request, I have yet to receive access. 

How do you introduce your customers to solutions? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM