How the Microsoft Ecosystem Enables Digital Transformation

Microsoft solutions are a family; stronger than any patchwork system of 3rd-party apps. Learn how that drives digital transformation.

Ryhaan Gill

Director, Digital Transformation

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Table of Content

    The Microsoft ecosystem was designed for transformation.

    It’s flexible, adaptable, and easy to customize. It can be scaled up or down in response to demand fluctuations. You can add, remove, or replace modules and integrations based on real-time needs and changing requirements.

    But, let’s be clear: most of the benefits Microsoft has to offer don’t come from individual apps and services like Dynamics 365, Teams, Azure, or the Power Platform. They come from combining those powerful, cloud-based solutions and leveraging them in specific, data-driven use cases.

    In other words, Microsoft solutions work as a family — stronger than any patchwork system of 3rd-party apps and integrations. In these next few sections, we’ll explain why that is – and what it means for driving digital transformation.

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    Unity in the Cloud & Deep Integration

    Microsoft is equipped to drive efficiency and productivity gains because of its unified cloud-based ecosystem.

    Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, the Power Platform, and Azure all run on the same common data model – allowing users to work with data across the entire digital estate.

    In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, digital transformation has become a critical initiative for organizations of all sizes and industries.

    The benefit here is, users don’t need to spend time converting data into the right format, pulling data from disparate sources, or manually unifying disconnected insights for reporting and analysis.

    Instead, all connected solutions function as a single system. Data syncs across all business units and processes, enabling cross-functional collaboration, providing end-to-end visibility, and unlocking a long list of game-changing benefits for different users and use cases.

    For starters, organizations can minimize the risk of human error – which is vitally important for finance, quality control, production, logistics, and project management – as well as related functions and processes that rely on accurate, real-time data. Think – sales, service, and marketing.

    In another post, we explain how platform unity can specifically benefit HVAC orgs. Field service techs can access critical information from any job site – offering big-time gains in customer satisfaction, efficiency, and scheduling.

    Internally, accounting teams have accurate data re: who needs to be billed and what for, while sales reps can quickly coordinate with service techs when clients need help – and win bids by making promises they can keep.

    One of our clients, Moore’s Electrical & Mechanical, decided to go all-in on the cloud when the coronavirus forced them to rethink existing on-prem solutions.

    IT Project Manager Stephen Overstreet said the company recognized that current systems were aging, but wanted to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem, as the problems they were experiencing stemmed from outdated on-prem infrastructure and a legacy ERP solution (Dynamics SL).

    Overstreet says migrating everything to Microsoft’s cloud-based apps and services allowed Moore’s Electric to unlock seamless integration, efficiency gains, and more.

    For example, the Teams interface delivers critical insights to the company’s call center teams. The front-desk receptionist can use Teams to forward calls to anyone in the company – using contextual information to route questions and service requests to the person in the best position to help. She can also see out-of-office statuses while on the phone with clients, enabling more efficient call routing and communications.

    As a result, customers receive higher quality service, faster than ever. And at the same time, Moore’s Electrical & Mechanical can serve more people and focus on reaching more strategic goals.

    Columbia Sportswear replaced its existing ERP solutions with D365 Finance, Supply Chain, and Commerce and synced them with Azure.

    By moving to D365 in the cloud, the outdoor apparel company was able to gain greater insight into its customer preferences and activities, business processes, data centers, and warehouses – all of which laid the foundation for realizing long-term strategies.

    With Azure, Columbia was then able to streamline operations from inventory management to PoS checkout and IT data centers by incorporating AI and machine learning into core processes.

    The company also implemented Microsoft Connected Spaces, which tracks trends and patterns in physical locations. It then uses those findings to drive decisions and develop AI-powered skills that can ID opportunities and problems, optimize staffing, and engage with in-person customers in the moment.

    Senior Director of Retail Operations Russell Anderson says D365 enabled the Columbia team to respond to consumer demand in near-real-time, adding that decisions that once took two days now happen instantly.


    Microsoft’s focus on modularity enables agility, and by extension, resilience.

    For example, cross-functional collaboration, real-time decision-making, and baked-in AI helps orgs manage and mitigate cybersecurity risks – with the entire ecosystem working as a single unit to defend against ransomware.

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    In the Gartner 2022 Cybersecurity and IT Risk Primer, analysts agree that in order to design a security program that aligns with business needs, tech investments, and org structures, and adapts in response to new risks, they need composable solutions and services with security baked into the code.

    But – cybersecurity is just one example of why composability is so essential to digital transformation.

    The real story here is that composability makes it possible to take quick action – whether you’re trying to capture an emergent opportunity before your competitors or pivot in the face of disaster.

    Real estate firm BGSF sought our help during a period of rapid growth to implement an ERP system capable of meeting new demands – including challenges related to its complex business structure and regulatory requirements.

    Velosio experts conducted a full audit of all internal systems and processes. Then, they used that information to design a multi-phased roadmap starting the ERP and core financials, then moving into product integrations across all critical systems.

    Here, the challenge was untangling and uniting disparate systems BGSF inherited from 14 prior acquisitions, then implementing integrations for critical processes like payroll, expense management, billing, and time-tracking.

    While the initial effort was a years-long affair, BCSF is now in the perfect position to adapt to rapid change – as the business grows, needs change, or the strategy evolves in response to new conditions.

    Easy, High-Speed Innovation

    Another key way that the Microsoft ecosystem unlocks DX benefits is by offering solutions that make development, data science, security, and automation accessible to a wider range of users, regardless of technical experience.

    Now, the Power Platform is the star of the show here. Its suite of low-code/no-code solutions enable just about anyone to analyze and manipulate data in creative new ways – allowing them to uncover valuable insights, make smarter decisions, and build custom apps, sites, and bots.

    Together, these tools support innovation and out-of-the-box solutions — both on the developer/data scientist side and among non-technical subject matter experts and employees working the front lines.

    One of the primary benefits of the Power Platform is that it enables fusion development.

    Non-technical users can use on-the-job experience, direct feedback, and business data to design solutions that put customers first. Microsoft just rolled new features that allow users to upload drawings or screenshots and convert those images into a working Power App with a unified data scheme – making it easier than ever to get started.

    Meanwhile, professional developers can access advanced tools that build on the prototypes designed by non-technical colleagues.

    That said, the Power Platform really shines when it joins forces with Azure.

    Tools like Visual Studio allow users to build Power Apps solutions fast. Azure SQL and Azure Kubernetes Service help users quickly deploy web apps designed in the Power Platform. Azure Connectors enable users to build, manage, and automate workflows and processes across all platforms and products, while Azure Cognitive Services makes it easy to add AI capabilities to any custom creation.

    In the example below, you can see how Power Virtual Agents and Azure Bot Framework help citizen and professional developers tackle complex chat scenarios from one unified canvas.

    Non-technical users can design conversations and code using the drag-and-drop editor, while developers can focus on optimizing bots and building solutions that make future bot projects easier. Think – creating templates that allow citizen developers to re-use topic logic or share topics with others.

    Microsoft Unified Canvas

    Microsoft customer The Co-op combined Azure Synapse Analytics with Power BI to standardize and scale reporting capabilities. This, in turn, enabled its member-owners to make data-driven decisions about how to improve the overall shopping experience and support community relationships.

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    According to Rob McKendrick, Head of Data & Insights at The Co-op, Power BI and Azure Synapse allowed the organization to quickly enable self-service analytics, as well as launch a proof of concept for broader use. He also noted that his team liked that the platforms supported a strong security model, while also providing the flexibility needed to update dashboards on a daily basis.

    It is important to note that The Co-op first had to build out a strong data foundation before they were able to take advantage of Power BI’s extensive reporting capabilities – let alone build the kind of environment that supports co-development.

    They essentially did this by updating their data warehousing and orchestration solutions and integrating them with the rest of the Microsoft stack. The case study offers more detail, but Azure Databricks processes the raw data and preps it for Synapse, Azure Data Factory handles ETL and orchestration, and Azure Data Lake is responsible for storage.

    Final Thoughts

    We’ll be honest, we’ve been a Microsoft partner for 30+ years, so there’s definitely some bias shaping our view of the MS ecosystem.

    However, these solutions – when combined and customized in the right ways – deliver powerful results that speak for themselves.

    Our experts provide DX solutions and support for Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, Azure, and the Power Platform. Book a consultation to learn more about how we leverage the entire MS ecosystem to deliver high-impact client outcomes.

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    Ryhaan Gill

    Director, Digital Transformation

    Follow Me: