Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Avanade excels in helping its clients maximize their business performance through strategy, technology, process, and change-enablement improvement—and it is applying that same expertise to its own internal operations. This increasingly requires cloud solutions to support a highly mobile and dispersed workforce. Avanade adopted Microsoft PowerApps to develop and publish curated content, and Office 365 so employees can access all the information they need while on the go. With corporate data available on their mobile devices, Avanade sellers are now more productive and better able to serve and attract clients.
Cloud technology that simplifies business
Avanade aims to be the leading digital innovator in its market by drawing on the talent of its people and on expertise and technology within the Microsoft ecosystem. The result is a transformation of clients’ businesses for the digital era. Avanade considers cloud solutions a key component of its vision, and the company not only shows clients how to optimize their processes using cloud technologies, but also implements cloud solutions internally for its own business processes. “Our digital transformation started a few years ago, when we wanted to focus on what we call our ‘simplification agenda,’” explains Bob Bruns, Chief Information and Security Officer at Avanade. “That is, we want it to be simple to do business both with Avanade and within Avanade.”
To that end, Avanade has adopted Microsoft cloud technologies, including the full range of Microsoft Office 365 components, to empower its digital workplace to operate at scale and at speed. “Our success with Microsoft cloud solutions serves as a proof point for our clients,” says Chris Miller, Chief Technology Innovation Officer at Avanade. “Better engagement with each other is a key step toward better engagement with our clients.”
Mobility support that simplifies access
A critical idea behind the company’s simplification agenda is giving workers easy access to information wherever they are, more securely and conveniently. Bruns cites Microsoft OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online as prime examples of how this is happening. “SharePoint Online provides team sites that help us collaborate on projects not only internally but also externally with clients,” he says. “And OneDrive for Business moves document storage from the PC to a centralized, safer location. The result is that we work together, across different groups, from a single source of truth.”
Consequently, robust support for a mobile workforce is also critical for the simplification agenda. “Mobility is profoundly changing the way we work. It’s amazing,” says Kathrine Lord, Senior Director, Global Mobility Lead at Avanade. “If you think about five years ago, we were so limited. But now, with only a smartphone, I can access and update files on OneDrive for Business anywhere, whether I’m at my desk, on the road, or picking up my kids. I’m more productive and more available.”
Anywhere-access benefits are amplified for people who spend a lot of time in the field. Lord says that, for sellers especially, it’s not just about taking a conference call while they’re on the road—it’s surfacing capabilities that empower them to do their job better. “Sellers can make more-informed decisions, improvise, and meet client expectations,” says Lord. “They could, for example, retrieve and present an updated PowerPoint deck on the go. The goal is to put everything they need on a single device.”
Apps that simplify … everything
Avanade is taking advantage of Microsoft PowerApps to bring the power of wide-ranging corporate resources to mobile devices. PowerApps is a platform and service for creating and running apps using very little code or no code at all (low code/no code). It uses the Common Data Service, along with hundreds of predefined, standard business entities so that all Avanade apps can share the same definition of “client,” “product,” “lead,” and so on.
Miller sees high value in the low-code/no-code capabilities of PowerApps, particularly in the context of interoperability with SharePoint Online. “With PowerApps, we gain the ability to rapidly prototype, iterate, and publish solutions that better connect employees with SharePoint Online, without expensive planning, development, and IT maintenance costs.”
Specifically, Avanade created the Digital @ Your Fingertips mobile app, which employees use to find and access content on their smartphones that previously required cumbersome intranet searching. Lord says, “People previously struggled to find what they needed in an abyss of documents, links, and resources delivered in the intranet search results.” With minimal effort, her team used PowerApps to develop and publish curated SharePoint Online content inside the app, making it easier for employees to quickly find key information.
Updates were a cinch, too. Adds Lord, “Somebody said, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we had client evidence in there? Sellers are always looking for client evidence.’ And we said, ‘Why not? We have it in a SharePoint Online list. Let’s just surface it in the app.’ So that’s what we did. Someone later said, ‘Let’s add demos.’ Now, with three clicks, our sellers are doing demos on a mobile device.”
Now the team can stay better connected with real-time notifications in the app. Lord continues, “We’re pushing out messages using Microsoft Flow. For example, when we have new training or a digital workplace session, an automated invitation is sent directly through the app and can be added to calendars right from the phone. The app also provides access to contacts, training materials, an image library, the Avanade Insights blog, the Avanade Inc video channel, information about the company’s offerings, employee feedback, and more.
Digital workplace that simplifies jobs
Avanade considers Office 365 foundational to its digital workplace, which is about the right tools for the right job—and an underlying ecosystem that brings it all together. Jason Hunt, Senior Vice President, Digital Lead, North America at Avanade, ties this idea in with mobility: “As a salesperson, if you’re in the office, you’re likely not selling. If the mobile experience isn’t the primary experience, we’re probably doing the digital workplace wrong.”
He expands on this idea, explaining how applying the right tools—SharePoint Online in this case—benefits the whole company. “I can check in a file on SharePoint Online and know that it’s immediately available to a team, to clients, or to other apps,” says Hunt. “It’s all part of one back-end infrastructure that flows information into whatever work environment makes sense for the circumstance. It’s a very, very powerful way to work.”
Michelle Caldwell, North America Digital Workplace Transformation Lead at Avanade, appreciates the choices that cloud and mobility technologies offer. “I work with people who have many different working modalities,” she says. “They can work and collaborate differently based on their situation, background, and the solutions they feel comfortable with, whether they’re in the office, remote, or traveling. I love that we have the capability to work with each other from anywhere yet still feel like we’re all connected in one digital workplace.”
With PowerApps, we gain the ability to rapidly prototype, iterate, and publish solutions that better connect employees with SharePoint Online, without expensive planning, development, and IT maintenance costs."
- Chris Miller
Chief Technology Innovation Officer