From Holograms to CPQ: How the Platform is Changing Technology Collaboration, Innovation and Ownership

April 19, 2016 Valerie Howard

Technology is shaping both business and society. It’s allowing us to be more agile and adapt to changing market dynamics. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to spend some time at the first-annual Microsoft Envision conference in New Orleans, where the program focuses on Microsoft’s overarching platform (cloud, mobility, productivity).

When you engage with Envision attendees, you learn that the conference gathers people in sales, finance, operations, marketing and technical roles from all over the globe – 1 in 3 attendees was from outside the United States.

Not too long ago, business technology procurement and ownership almost always seemed to reside in the IT department. In the case of Microsoft, everyone had their locally hosted MS Office desktop environment usually with a mix of some back-end technology (SQL Server, WindowsXP, later on SharePoint, etc.).

The SaaS revolution has changed all, empowering front-end business process owners to play a much bigger role in driving technology transformation, often with their own in-department specialists controlling many aspects of the solutions they deploy.

Readers may have noticed the new PROS tagline: “Realize Your Potential.” In a marketplace rocked with constant volatility – supply chain volatility, price volatility, currency volatility – realizing your revenue and profit potential means you have to be agile to react successfully. Distributing the ownership of technology innovation in your business is a key component in fostering agility.

As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated in his opening Envision keynote: It’s no longer just the IT department that is concerned with technology – in many cases, Microsoft’s platform is allowing others in the organization to build or acquire the technology that empowers individuals in personal and differentiated ways.

For example, Microsoft enables a NASA astronaut like Scott Kelly to focus on scientific experimentation while his colleagues back on Earth manage space station maintenance from laptops and Windows 7. NASA was able to run some tailored experiments that compared Scott Kelly’s body transformation in space to that of his identical twin on Earth. When they need to collaborate with experts back on Earth, they have amazing tools like Hololens, which allowed Kelly to work with his terrestrial colleagues through some pretty amazing holographic technology. As recently as 1996, astronauts managed space shuttle maintenance on paper check lists.

For more mundane pursuits, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has built a wide coalition of ecosystem partners that are helping fuel the ongoing move to distributed technology ownership in the business. PROS Smart CPQ for Microsoft Dynamics is delivering optimized product and price recommendations right into CPQ at the time of quote. Product managers can set up, modify and maintain highly complex product catalogs without coding or IT assistance and sales teams have all or their key applications integrated and easily accessible on one SaaS cloud platform. With increasing market volatility, the agility – and ownership – that platforms such as Microsoft Dynamics provides – is allowing companies to improve agility, speed responsiveness, and grow the business.

About the Author

Valerie Howard

Valerie Howard, Solution Strategy Director at PROS, manages the go-to-market strategy for the PROS pricing solution portfolio. As a former user and product manager of PROS solutions, she has firsthand experience in the transformative benefits and competitive advantages that can be realized through pricing technology. Valerie earned an MBA from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering through a scholarship at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

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