I am constantly impressed by the work our partners are doing and all the ways they are helping our mutual customers achieve more. Being here at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando has only reinforced that; it’s been great to hear about and see these stories. We are highlighting a few of the stories on the Expo floor at the conference in our Evidence Area with both partners and their customers there to share their experiences, and I wanted to give you a glimpse of what our partners are building using Microsoft platforms and tools.
Drive for Life
In Canada, as in much of the world, vehicle traffic accidents account for a high percentage of preventable fatalities. What better way can technology serve the public than by making us all safer? Drive for Life’s Windows-based driver training program creates safer drivers by helping users understand the decisions they make while driving – and the mistakes.
John Williamson, CEO of Drive for Life, says standard driver training focuses on the rules of the road, but most accidents occur because of uninformed decision making. A far better way is to take a cognitive approach – understand how your brain works in unexpected situations, and apply that to your driving. Their training has significantly reduced collisions even among experienced drivers.
John says Microsoft is giving them some unique opportunities. They’re particularly excited about Windows 10, because while they appreciate the flexibility, power, and graphic quality of the Surface 3s they use in their training, many of their corporate clients already have other devices. Windows 10 will allow Drive for Life to run their product on other devices without the development time this would have meant in the past.
The program focuses on teaching new police, fire, and EMS recruits the right ways to react to driving situations, then uses exercises and games on Surface 3 tablets to help users internalize the new behavior. The large simulators that include steering wheel and pedals are difficult to transport; with their innovative app, Drive for Life is able to reach a much broader audience by bringing the training to the students on the Surface 3s. It’s an exciting use of technology, and as someone who spends a lot of time on the road, an innovation I’m grateful for.
Another amazing use of technology is Fujitsu’s UBIQUITOUSWARE, an initiative in human-centric IoT. This small chip for IoT devices is very fast and contains several sensors which learn the behavioral patterns of the wearer. Sudden shifts in those behaviors or in certain health data can be detected. For example, in the workplace, the wrist sensor might report that the wearer is doing normal activity, like climbing a ladder. However, sudden or unexpected motion may indicate a fall, at which point appropriate action can be taken. Health sensors monitor heat stress caused by temperature or activity; proprietary algorithms can track wearers in places where GPS is less dependable; and a heart rate detector can trigger an alert when the wearer is under excessive physical stress. The chip can be used to monitor the activity level of pets or even the drowsiness of a driver. Built on Azure, the solution is able to contain and manage an enormous amount of information. It’s a terrific example of how we’re leading better lives through technology.
Trek began in 1976 with a mission to build the best bikes in the world. But building the best bikes also meant becoming the best bike company they could be for their 5,000 independent retailers.
Ben Edgren, Trek’s CRM Administrator, describes his company as a “pretty heavy Microsoft shop.” The organization uses Dynamics CRM with inside and outside sales reps, and they’ve seen such success they’re pushing CRM globally. With this solution, Trek is able to really ramp up their customer service, tracking interactions on the website and call centers, then using that data to match consumers up with retailers with certain expertise or inventory.
With the knowledge they’ve gained from CRM, they are able to reallocate resources where they’re needed most. Where it used to take weeks to get to emails because there was such a huge backlog, now they can assign emails to special reps who may be more knowledgeable on a certain subject, or are better known in a certain territory. “Our email response time has gone down to minutes instead of days. And we can extrapolate all that data using Power BI and get all kinds of info on what bikes are selling well in what areas, for example, and shift our focus with that information in mind,” says Ben. With Trek handling more of the administrative details, the individual retailers can get back to what they do best – selling great Trek bikes.
If you’ve ever had a Godiva chocolate, you know this is a company that focuses on excellence. Seven years ago, the company was purchased by a new parent organization in Turkey, and Godiva had to move its data to a new host. The new system was expensive and required considerable management, so Godiva began looking for a new solution. The company was very excited about the cost savings, security controls, and flexibility offered by Azure.
The modern solution of the Enterprise Mobility Solution allows Godiva to have better mobility, communication, and collaboration while still keeping information secure. As a $20B industry in the US, chocolate is extremely competitive, and updated tools and platforms allow Godiva to stay on the cutting edge of technology without sacrificing the time and resources they want to devote to creating some of the world’s best chocolate.
“Microsoft has provided us with technological roadmaps so we know what our plans are. They’ve been a true partner. The Azure platform lets us be super agile and see a path to profitability. We’ve been able to lower costs tremendously and get our future on a fast track. Best of all, it allows us to get back to our core competency – making really great chocolate.” – Alex Neff, Director of Infrastructure, Godiva Chocolatier
I learn from partners every day, and I never cease to be amazed at your capacity to solve problems and answer challenges through technology. Partners are creating solutions that improve our lives and health, and I’m excited by what’s yet to come. The Evidence Area of WPC 2015 is available to visit when the Expo floor is open, so stop by, connect with other partners, and view the great examples of partner offerings. Let the creativity of other partners inspire your next great innovation!
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