In the realm of building micro-vertical ISV business apps, Tom Moortgat, the mind behind Fearless Leader, shares valuable insights.
This blog delves into four key tips drawn from his seasoned experience shared during the recent resco.NEXT 2023 conference. The story of Tom and Fearless Leader solutions can help other ISV partners envision a roadmap to crafting successful business solutions.
The story of Fearless Leader
A decade ago, Tom embarked on a journey to transform sales solutions in the food and beverage industries. As the owner and managing director of Avento at the time, Tom initiated the development of what would later become Fearless Leader.
Born from this vision, Fearless Leader now helps to fulfill the needs of frontline workers such as sales representatives, inspectors, and medical professionals. It integrates mobile capabilities within the framework of Microsoft and Resco technologies, benefiting not only frontline workers but also their managers and back-office users.
Over the years, the solution has acquired a user community of over 1,500 individuals across 45 customers in Belgium and beyond. In the preceding year, Avento was acquired by Cegeka, and the company’s scope widened to pharma and medical industries.
Cegeka has also achieved the 2023/2024 Microsoft Business Applications Inner Circle award, placing it among the top 1% of Microsoft’s worldwide partners.
With these achievements under his belt, Tom Moortgat’s experience serves as a guide on crafting successful micro-vertical solutions combining Resco and Microsoft business tools. Let’s delve into his insights shared at resco.NEXT 2023 conference.
Love watching more than reading? Watch the full Tom Moortgat’s session from resco.NEXT 2023 to learn about his experience.
1. Begin with the user in mind
When constructing business applications, Tom emphasizes the pivotal role of user-friendliness and simplicity, “What’s “important about solutions that you build for customers is how easy it is to use them. It’s a top argument. It must be very easy to use.”
It’s no coincidence that the key phase of development began even before the idea of Fearless Leader was born. “We started talking to the market while building the solution,” Tom remarked. Armed with a tablet, he initiated conversations with sales managers at industry fairs and conferences to gain knowledge about their needs.
From that point, the focus on user-friendliness became a cornerstone in the journey of constructing efficient and impactful business applications.
Fearless Leader has an interface made for easy navigation, ensuring that all users, regardless of their technical expertise, can integrate the solution into their daily tasks. “It has to be helpful for the person who uses it every day, every morning to the evening and not just for management with their reporting,” Tom asserted.
2. Don’t forget about offline, even in 2024
In an era dominated by 5G discussions, Tom remains an advocate for offline functionality despite seemingly abundant 4G and 5G connection, “We are in the year 2023 [at the time of conference] and offline is still the topic. Who would have thought of that?”
“If you go into a supermarket, there are now solar panels on the roof, but there is no 4G or 5G connection yet. Maybe that will change a bit in the future, but often there is no connectivity as soon as you walk into a supermarket,” he explains.
For sales representatives operating in such environments, it would mean a challenging user experience and an inability to fulfill their work.
During his presentation, Tom emphasized the necessity of the right combination of tools and platforms to achieve seamless offline functionality. It’s a field where Resco and Microsoft complement each other. “We can have Dynamics 365 and SharePoint connected, and Resco takes it all offline. That’s very good and future proofed,” Tom noted.
And it’s the futureproofing of the solution that makes another important topic in Tom’s presentation.
3. Opt for flexible development
Tom draws attention to the challenges faced by traditional, custom-developed apps, particularly when dealing with supporting every new iOS update or device.
“We have replaced many apps that were built previously. Why? Because at a certain point, those apps didn’t work on the new iOS anymore,” he noted.
This observation underscores the obsolescence and escalating costs associated with custom-developed applications. That’s where systems and tools like Microsoft Power Platform, Resco Platform, and Woodford low-code customization provide solutions for ISV partners.
The Woodford configurator makes customization easy , eliminating the need for complex coding or ongoing maintenance. This ensures that the ISV partner can adapt and improve their solutions without the hassle of constant maintenance.
As Tom positioned it, “What we did was we made one solution compatible for all those industries – food, beverage, pharma, medical – which makes it very interesting for us for maintenance and support because it’s one whole system. It’s configurable for a food person as well as a pharma person.”
New device support is especially important for ensuring seamless experience for frontline workers. “For instance, many sales reps use their smartphone with their calendar in their car to check the visits that they have to do that day. It’s connected to Waze and then as soon as they go into the supermarket, they have a tablet, and they continue their work with it as the app runs the same on any device.”
Tom underlines the economic advantage for clients, stating, “For them, it’s important that they take the licenses, a few days of work training, but they don’t have to buy new hardware.” This cost-efficient approach positions no-code / low-code development tools as a powerful ally for ISV partners, enabling them to provide future-proof solutions without imposing significant financial burdens on their clients.
4. Leverage advanced functionality
The incorporation of Azure Maps, Google Maps, and Resco technology stands out as a key functionality in Fearless Leader, allowing sales representatives to optimize their routes and maximize their efficiency.
In a live demonstration, Tom showcased how this technology translates into tangible time savings and increased visit capacity. “The sales reps must plan their day and they must do that very effectively. It’s the only result that counts,” he emphasized during the presentation.
Additionally, Tom highlights the flexibility to add languages upon request, ensuring adaptability to the specific linguistic needs of different markets.
Fearless Leader goes beyond language barriers with its comprehensive multilingual support. Tom notes, “We use all languages by default, English, French, Dutch, German, and we also now have Italian in it.” This inclusivity allows the solution to cater to a diverse frontline workforce.
“And there’s reporting, of course, behind it. You want to know as a manager ‘where are my guys? How many visits did they do? Is our assortment delivered?’ So the reporting is there as well,” explained Tom, listing several new features used by Fearless Leader during the presentation.
Tom’s journey with Fearless Leader provides multiple important insights for ISVs: Keep it simple, don’t forget offline, go for flexible development, and spice it up with the latest features.