The best software solution just might be the one that produces instant savings for the customer and instant profits for the provider. DM Sistemas, a longtime Microsoft partner in São Paulo, Brazil, accomplished this remarkable feat using Windows Azure and the resources of the Microsoft Partner Network. Délio Richard Lázaro, executive director at DM Sistemas recently shared his story with me. Here are some excerpts:

Josh Waldo: What spurred the idea for this solution?
Délio Richard Lázaro: We thought about creating the broadest possible market through a solution that all companies in Brazil could use. And we wanted to host it in the cloud to reduce costs for both us and our customers, and enable fast, easy adoption, regardless of a customer’s size, location, or technical resources.
JW: So, with those criteria, what did you come up with?
DRL: Our solution, ABS Card, gives employers in Brazil an immediate, easy way to save money while complying with our transportation assistance law, which requires them to pay for their workers’ public transportation commuting costs. Workers use a pre-paid card, and employers replenish the amount each month.
JW: And how do you deliver savings?
DRL: When workers take cars, rides, carpools, bikes, or walk to work, the value on the card remains unused. Our cloud-based tool communicates directly with the public transportation operator and calculates the appropriate amount of money to keep on the card—saving employers from idling their funds.
JW: How important was Microsoft to this solution?          

DRL: Without exaggeration, it was essential. We saw this as a “long-tail” solution—one that we could sell everywhere, with cost-effective “mass customization” for each customer. That required the cloud. Windows Azure offered the reliability, scalability and performance we needed. As a Microsoft partner, we adopted Windows Azure for less than we could have done with any other cloud platform. Also, we had access to the Action Pack, the right software, and we had access to Microsoft partners such as A&C, MSBS Tridea, Pluralsight, in addition to the Microsoft Brazil team, which variously contributed inspiration, training, business-model guidance, and marketing.

JW: What’s the customer proposition?
DRL: Our customers see an average 40 percent savings by recovering the surplus that would otherwise be trapped in those transportation cards. They get a whole management system, with reports, accuracy checks, and fare optimization. They can access the solution from anywhere with a Web browser, and use the reports with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook. And there’s no upfront cost; just sign up and start using it. We charge a percentage of the savings for six months, and then just a small monthly fee of 40 cents per card.
JW: And how well are you doing?
DRL: Great. We expect a 30 percent annual increase in gross sales. By creating a long-tail service hosted in Windows Azure, we have tremendous growth potential. If just five percent of Brazil’s 4.3 million active companies adopt ABS Card, we would increase revenues by $270 million. Microsoft has helped us to make this a very realistic goal.
This is just another example of how Microsoft’s public cloud offerings transform the way people work, the way partners drive their business, and how end customers save money and increase capability. Thirty percent increase in gross sales for our partner! Forty percent savings for the customer! The cloud makes all of this possible and Microsoft is delivering the industry’s best capability and new business models to partners every day for the ultimate goal of helping our end customers realize their full potential.