Partners BrightStarr and K2 share a common desire: to provide great solutions their customers can get up and running quickly. BrightStarr, a SI/ISV gold partner, wanted to take their knowledge and experience from creating customized intranet solutions and create a SaaS solution that fully embraced the mobile-first, cloud-first model. K2, a Gold Global ISV partner, wanted to make it easier for customers to access workflows and forms in the cloud. Thanks to their existing partner relationship, they were able to combine their expertise in ways that empowered their mutual customers. We talked with Nanette Murray of BrightStarr and Amy Costello of K2 about how their synergy became a solution.
What was the goal you wanted to accomplish?
Nanette (BrightStarr): “Both organizations have new products we’ve brought to the market. At BrightStarr, we’ve released Unily – a software package that enables organizations to launch an out-of-the-box, fully branded intranet in weeks rather than months. We were looking for a strong, business-process-automation forms and workflow tool that would enable us to offer a complete ecosystem, and we knew that’s what K2 does so well. They had a workflow that could be easily integrated into Unily.”
Amy (K2): “We recently developed K2 Appit for SharePoint, a cloud-based service for building workflow and form apps on SharePoint, no coding required. We were looking for a strategic partner on the services side, and given BrightStarr’s level of service to customers and fantastic platform, it made sense for the two products to come together.”
The two companies had a partnering relationship in the UK that extended back several years, but this was the first time their North American offices came together on a project. “Our salespeople speak frequently, looking for opportunities to partner. This was one of those lightbulb moments when everyone realized our goals were really aligned – to help move customers to the Microsoft cloud by providing products that work beautifully and drive cloud-active usage. Both solutions have the subscription model, and launching them together is a great way to introduce the products to a wider audience,” said Nanette. “We knew each other’s capabilities and expertise, we already had the trust, and that enabled us to identify the opportunity in this partnership,” Amy added.
Integrating K2 Appit for SharePoint into Unily brought in the workflow/forms piece BrightStarr had been looking for. BrightStarr quickly began building out demos involving K2’s solution, showing how the workflows and forms could be an additional asset to potential Unily customers.
“Because Unily runs on SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure, it’s a subscription-based, evergreen solution. As Microsoft releases updates to Office 365, the new functions and features are integrated with the Unily product. There’s no front-end cost for customers, because it’s a pay-as-you-go model; there’s no depreciation in the product, because it only improves as updates are integrated,” Nanette said. “Unily extends what SharePoint can do, and K2’s Appit inside Unily extends what the end user can do just that much farther.”
How do your solutions work together?
A company’s intranet is its solution center – or it should be. It’s where employees go for information, to stay connected, and to partake in services. Unfortunately, often the information on a company’s intranet is siloed and not actionable. K2 Appit for SharePoint works within Unily to connect customers’ employees with actionable forms and workflows that automate many of the processes employees do repeatedly.
For example, let’s say an employee needs to submit an expense report for travel. Using K2 Appit for SharePoint, she can access and fill in a form, attach any receipts or other documentation, and route everything to the next person in the process. If approved, her request goes on to accounting, then payroll, etc. The workflow is automated, simple, and predictable. From the Unily side, if there’s an issue with the employee’s request – perhaps there’s been a change in the amount she can spend on a hotel, for instance – someone from accounting is able to search the system for the form and search for and contact the employee directly with Skype for Business. If the policy change is companywide, it can be easily updated in the workflow and announced to the company at large via a news story or blog. And Yammer is integrated to provide a social collaboration experience. As Nanette said: “It all flows together.”
What’s the impact of your solution for customers?
Speed – without sacrificing quality – is huge. The ability for customers to integrate and implement solutions quickly is enormously valuable. According to Amy, “Both products help our customers be agile. For us and our customers, one of the biggest benefits of the cloud is the ability to start building right away. When customers have a problem, they don’t want to wait six months, they want to get started solving.” And the solutions are quick: while custom builds for SharePoint intranet systems can take up to a year or more, BrightStarr was able to get Pitney Bowes’ intranet up and running for its 18,000 users in six weeks with Unily. Appit can be implemented and running for an organization in less than an hour. Integrating K2’s solution with Unily meant both could provide customers with a comprehensive, end-to-end solution, faster.
As Nanette said, “The bottom line is, we’ve evolved separately and together to embrace the cloud, Office 365, and Azure, and now K2, BrightStarr and Microsoft are working hand-in-hand-in-hand to make it easier for our customers to embrace the cloud with simpler solutions.”
Want to learn more about Unily and K2 Appit for SharePoint, as well as how subscription-based models can create new opportunities for partners and customers? BrightStarr and K2 are demoing their products and answering questions in a live webinar on April 28, 11 am EDT, so register now for “Consume SharePoint Differently.”
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