Microsoft cloud technologies aren’t just for horizontal markets. RyanTech Inc.—a Utah-based Microsoft partner with multiple gold and silver competencies and US Cloud Champion status—has put Microsoft Office 365 and Windows Intune at the center of a solution for auto dealers. They project their solution will generate a new revenue stream of US$36 million over three years. Here are excerpts from my conversation with RyanTech President Kevin McMillen.

Josh Waldo: How is your market—the auto industry and auto dealers, in particular—distinctive?
Kevin McMillen: Many auto dealers have older technology across the board—antiquated phone systems, old computers, and inefficient email platforms and CRM tools. As a result, they have trouble connecting effectively with their customers, and customers misinterpret this as a lack of interest in them. I’m sure Microsoft partners see this in other market segments, too. The challenge is to deliver progress quickly despite the range of problems.
JW: How do you do that?
KM: Take our customer Murdock Hyundai, which operates three dealerships in Utah. We got them to adopt Microsoft Office 365, Windows Intune, Windows Phone, Windows 7, and a VoIP phone system from Microsoft partner 3CX. We used a staged approach. First, we addressed their sluggish PCs with Windows Intune; then, with the PCs running properly, replaced their Linux-hosted email with Exchange Online—in one day, without downtime. We used SharePoint Online as part of a workflow process to get sales promotions onto their website much faster than before.
JW: How did you position your services, and the Microsoft platform?
KM: We saw the potential to take this solution nationwide—and even global. So we invested in providing our consulting services to the customer at no charge for a year. We earned their trust and now they execute on all of our IT recommendations. We positioned the Microsoft platform as the solution they needed to fit in their corporate environment. Windows Intune was the way to manage both their desktops and Windows 7 slates without a hardware investment; and Office 365 delivered Exchange and SharePoint, again without an on-premise investment. They got a better solution, deployed faster and at less cost. We’ve since upgraded them to Windows 8.
JW: What’s the bottom line for the customer?
KM: Their salespeople spend half as much time on email as before—giving the dealer the equivalent of another half-time salesperson. They respond to customers 200 percent faster, and cut their desktop hardware budget by 50 percent. Their sales are up by 35 percent this year and they attribute a third of that increase—US$3 million—to the technology. They’re especially impressed with the productivity they get from Windows slates.
JW: Why is that?
KM: Their Internet director, Kris MacDonald, told me that he’d never thought a tablet could be productive in the workplace—that he’d only seen people playing games or running other non-productive apps before. He now has a Samsung slate running Windows 8 and he calls it the best device he’s ever seen—revolutionary in his market. He said that having Microsoft Office with him everywhere he goes is a game changer for him.
JW: And what’s the return for RyanTech?
KM: By combining our industry expertise and Microsoft cloud offerings, we now have a superb solution to offer to the 17,000 dealers we work with in the US, plus dealers worldwide. If we develop a 20 percent market share in the US, we will have 600,000 users at 5,000 customers. At an average of US$21 per user per month, that’s more than US$36 million in new revenue for us over three years.