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Microsoft Partner Reinvents Business with Power BI

Partners are choosing many paths to reinvention, responding to the changing world of tech. A common theme is using the latest Microsoft tools as a platform for services that deliver business value to customers.

For one partner, Power BI for Office 365 is leading the transformation and changing conversations from technology to business outcomes.

"We got started by leveraging Power BI internally as we set up an office in a new location," said Sean Ferrel, president and CEO of Managed Solution. "We pulled data to profile our potential customers in that new territory and used Power BI to analyze the market. Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM and InsideView, we created a lead list of potential customers."

Based on the profiles, Managed Solution hired consultative sales managers with experience working in the target sectors. Sales efforts are supported by marketing campaigns managed through Dynamics CRM. 

Building on its experience, Managed Solution now delivers sales and marketing analysis services to customers. Common projects involve helping retailers identify potential storefront locations. With a knowledge of sources for demographic and business data, Managed Solution consultants pull the data into Power BI for their customers.

"We also explain that Dynamics CRM is a tool that will allow them to automate the processes that put the data to work supporting sales and marketing efforts," Ferrel said.

In another recent Power BI project, Managed Solution helped a solar energy startup justify estimates for potential financial backers. Using Power BI, the company surfaced residential rooftop square footage, solar panel capacity and potential power production to identify target markets and provide well-founded revenue estimates.

The Trifecta for Extending Services
"I think that the infrastructure conversation is going to die out quickly as we make our transition to the cloud," Ferrel said. "We really don't talk IT anymore. We talk business outcomes...what are you trying to achieve? Customers want to drive more revenue, they want a better relationship with their customers and they want to have better mediums for communications."

To support those business outcomes, the 60-person Managed Solution team includes engineers with SharePoint, Power BI and Dynamics CRM expertise. SharePoint is the "single pane of glass" to deliver content and support collaboration. Dynamics CRM provides the sales and marketing automation platform. Power BI translates the data into information through dashboards and charts that users can put to work.

"We have engineers that understand those three workloads and how they work together," Ferrel added. "But, again, we are getting away from product-based discussions and talk about business-based outcomes using those tools."

Ferrel sees a challenge in making sure that everyone in the organization understands it's not about one product anymore; it's understanding the ecosystem of tools that create these outcomes. To support the new approach, the Managed Solution sales team is trained on a matrix of business priorities that includes scalability, revenue, collaboration, communication and culture.

"We have to reinvent our businesses, taking those platforms that have been built to create business process outcomes," Ferrel said. "We need to think about managing the application layer, building dashboards with Power BI, customer workflows in SharePoint and performance reports in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. We will provide the business analysts who customize the applications for clients, paid for as a service in the cloud."

For more examples of Power BI projects that Managed Solution has delivered, check out 5 Great Power BI for Office 365 Case Studies.

Those partners who stay ahead of the conversations and are ready to talk to customers about business problems instead of just the technology are poised to excel in an increasingly positive market. There are many paths to choose from; it's just a matter of finding the platform and set of services that capitalize on your strengths.

How is your firm starting business outcome conversations? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on January 15, 2015 at 7:34 AM