We are in the middle of a business systems transformation. Over the last 3-5 years, more and more businesses are transitioning to cloud-based business systems.  We won’t get into the why, that ship has sailed. Cloud applications are cheaper, more reliable and easier to maintain than their old client-server/on-premise predecessors.  Instead, what is important now, is how to sift through the myriad of cloud business applications to choose what is right for your organization.

Categorically speaking, these are the ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence and other business applications every business needs in the Information Age.  It can be confusing for businesses as they attempt to find and evaluate these cloud applications.  Among the many questions businesses are asking, “Does this application connect to the other business application I am already using?”  The answer often depends on if the business is willing to spend some money to develop an integration.  This is where it pays to do some homework.  The interoperability of today’s cloud applications is the most significant obstacle left for the “software” industry to conquer.  That is why every business needs to be asking this question when evaluating new cloud applications.

Building a Strong Technology Foundation

So let’s talk about building a strong foundation for your cloud-based business systems infrastructure.  What if there was a single cloud business platform that could support every facet of your operation; back office to front office, parking lot to loading dock? A platform that is built from the ground up to promote interoperability amongst its applications. That sounds like a good place to start right? Funny thing is, as you are reading this, your business is likely already using one or two applications on this platform.  I am talking about Microsoft’s Business Cloud.

Where it All Started

In 2018, Amazon and Microsoft combined to represent over 75% of all cloud platform revenue which is estimated to be close to $180 Billion and growing sharply.  Microsoft’s Business Cloud is at the roots of its success as a cloud solution provider.

Microsoft introduced the first generation of its Business Cloud back in 2010 with the introduction of Office 365.  The initial offering provided businesses the ability to host their email with Exchange Online, store their documents with SharePoint Online and manage licensing for their favorite MS Office Apps such as Word, Excel and Outlook.  Since those early days, Microsoft has continually invested billions in its Business Cloud, making it the largest and most comprehensive business platform around and no one else comes close.  Today, a business leveraging Microsoft’s Business Cloud, has access to:

  • Hosted Services such as Exchange, Skype VOIP (Telecom)
  • Document Storage – SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business
  • Collaboration Tools – Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Yammer
  • MS Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote
  • Outlook – Outlook Mail, Outlook Calendar, Microsoft Planner
  • Field Service Management
  • Professional Services Automation (PSA)
  • Marketing
  • Business Intelligence – Microsoft Power BI
  • Dynamics 365 – Financials (ERP), For Sales (CRM), For Service (CRM)

And this is only a partial list!

But why don’t we focus on what businesses worry about the most.

3 Essential Business Functions to Help Your Business Be Tri-umphant

The “Big 3,” that’s managing their relationships with their clients, their relationships with their employees and their ability to make money and be profitable. A business might consider themselves “triumphant” if at any given time they have all three of these points in check. So how does Microsoft’s Business Cloud with Office 365 and Dynamics 365 help a business keep these points in check?  Well…like this:

1. Managing Client Relationships

First, if any business is concerned about its relationship with its clients and customers, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is a crucial application. Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement is Microsoft’s CRM solution and arguably the most robust yet easy to use CRM solution on the market today. A CRM system like Dynamics 365 helps keep your employees and business processes in sync and focused on providing the best possible service to your clients and customers. A CRM becomes your system-of-record for all things customer related, acting as a tuning fork to measure the customer experience and your relationship. Besides keeping track of the obvious Sales Deals, Customer Service Issues and other Customer Details, Dynamics 365 can help you track vital back-office needs such as contract management or managing projects as well. A point often missed during early search efforts. Think of Dynamics 365 as an operations platform, not just a great sales and marketing tool.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Intelligent Business Applications

Re-imagine business processes to enable digital transformation within organizations. This video shows how Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP capabilities into intelligent applications that work seamlessly together across marketing, sales, operations, customer service and field service. It also shows the seamless integration of Office 365, as well as what is possible for your business when using HoloLens as well IoT devices with Dynamics 365 – all to help you engage your customers in new ways, empower employees, optimize operations and transform your products and services.

2.  Managing Employee Relationships

But how does a business improve their relationship with their employees?  Well besides the obvious “pay them more” response, most employees will tell you that having access to the right tools they need to do their job faster/easier/more efficiently is way up the list.  Specifically, the most commonly requested tools these days are those that support better team communication and collaboration….

”Betty gets tired of having to send an email to Tom in the warehouse every time he needs to ship materials to a job site.”

This is where Office 365 really starts to shine.  Not only does it take care of your email, but your Office applications and your documents, with Microsoft Teams, Office 365 also provide your employees with a new way to collaborate.  Working together without the emails, the hallway discussions or the proverbial last minute 5:45 meeting on a Friday.  Microsoft Teams gives your employees the ability to keep tabs on what each person is doing on a project, job or task or with a client.  What’s better, thanks to the built-in interoperability of Office 365 and Dynamics 365, you can connect Microsoft Teams up to your Dynamics 365 (CRM) so that all activity stays in sync between both systems giving the most complete view of your customer, job or project as possible.  Now Betty doesn’t have to email Tom anymore, Tom gets notified automatically because he is using MS Teams to track the progress on the job. Microsoft’s Office 365 and Dynamics 365 solutions can come together to best support your customers and your employees!

Microsoft Teams: The Basics and Beyond

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace in Office 365 that is a hub for collaboration, providing secure access to all the information teams need to work together. In this video, Microsoft demonstrates Teams can bring your coworkers together using channels to chat, call, meet, and store shared files.

3.  Optimizing Sales Productivity

But what about the numbers? This is all well and good but at the end of the day, what is the impact on the bottom line. Not to imply that it prints money, but Power BI, Microsoft’s Business Intelligence solution, can help you make sure you are staying profitable.  As the most recent addition to the Microsoft Business Cloud, Power BI is Microsoft’s answer to the old report writing software that you needed a Ph.D. to use.  As a next generation cloud-based business intelligence tool, Power BI is built on Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite providing the power of machine learning algorithms that can tell you what you should important business trends you should look at.  That’s right, a reporting tool that tells you what revenue or other business trends you might need to address.

Power BI can either host or directly connect to one or many data sources and allows users to easily create compelling reports, visuals/graphs and add them to dashboards that can be shared out to other users.  Once again, thanks to built-in Office/Dynamics 365 interoperability, Power BI can directly connect to your Dynamics 365 (CRM) and retrieve data such as sales or service metrics, customer counts and summaries or maybe view user activity in the system.  Then, after you have created your Power BI dashboard, you can easily display that same dashboard back in Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Power BI: The Future for Modern and Enterprise

In this video, Microsoft demonstrates the newest capabilities available in Power BI and discusses what’s coming next. This session covers Power BI’s vision for unifying modern and enterprise BI and expanding self-service BI for big data. Power BI enables clients to build a data culture in their organizations by empowering analysts and enabling agile enterprise BI.

Microsoft Business Cloud use cases like these should be the objective of any business looking to adopt a cloud-based business systems infrastructure.  Most businesses would agree, there are still an unlimited number of other challenges today’s businesses have left to solve.  It’s best to work with a technology firm like LBMC Technology Solutions that can help you navigate and evaluate the growing number of cloud solutions.  As a Microsoft Gold Partner, LBMC Technology Solutions has the experience to help you maximize the benefits of the Microsoft Business Cloud.

Interested in learning more about Microsoft solutions for your business? Contact us.