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Adaptability breeds success

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Beyond a service model: becoming an innovator

The business world is evolving at an exponential rate—and more than ever, Microsoft Partners are leading the charge. A recent trend is that many Microsoft Partners are moving away from traditional consulting and software reselling to developing their own scalable, commercialized IP.

In the most interesting cases, platforms are designed as a foundation for customized solutions. Partners are finding that, with careful design and some modifications, the IP they create for one customer can be used by others. MOQdigital with its Cloud Data Manager (CDM) is one company that has adapted to this model very well.

Australian Microsoft Partner MOQdigital resulted from the 2015 merger of two companies: Breeze and Technology Effect. Breeze had been in business since 1998 and had been a recognized Gold Partner focusing on training, and later, software development. Technology Effect had been a more traditional consulting practice.

Developing commercialized IP

A dental provider based in Australia and New Zealand needed to consolidate and run reports on thousands of medical files gathered across its 220-practice network. Members of this network used several different record-keeping systems, which in many cases were further customized to support specific workflows. Getting each office to adopt common applications wasn’t an option–each had invested in its preferred systems and change would be disruptive and expensive.

To make reporting possible, MOQdigital created a hybrid cloud solution that extracted specific data from each of these systems using the CDM software it developed. This data was then passed to Microsoft Azure where it was processed and formatted into standard reports using Microsoft BizTalk Server 2013. The standardized data was then sent to a central database where reports could be run. What made the solution an important breakthrough for MOQdigital was CDM, a development which would later be used to build other solutions.

From the start, MOQdigital designed CDM so it could be modified and used for other applications. “We didn’t want it to be applicable to one client and only that one client. That’s where our design experience came in. We built it very open and very flexible,” recalled MOQdigital Chief Technology Officer, Mick Badran.

This approach was built on the culture that MOQdigital’s leadership had established from working together and looking at their past efforts, holistically. “It’s rare that you’ll get five people in a room and come up with an idea. It just doesn’t happen in those situations. It happens when you get out there, being part of the team, and playing together. And you get, by experience, the insight into what’s going to work and what’s not.”

Going into some of these engagements arm-in-arm with Microsoft validates what we do and what we bring to the table. In the customer’s eyes, this gives the opportunity a lot of credibility

- Mick Baldran, CTO, MOQdigital

IoT, Big Data, and safety plays

Following MOQdigital’s win with their medical records solution, it turned its attention to another client, Laing O’Rourke, whom had been working with the company to develop a system to gather and analyze data supporting IoT hard hats.

Laing O’Rourke is an international construction and engineering company that does work in very challenging environments such as the Australian Outback. Together with MOQdigital, it developed a “smart” hard hat that measured the vital signs of the 5000-6000-member staff in the field on any given engagement. Fitted with sensors to measure heart rate, body temperature, an accelerometer to measure helmet impacts, and a GPS to track location, the helmet monitors these data and passes them to an Azure cloud to be analyzed, allowing the team to determine where someone is on a work site and monitor important health indicators. These potentially lifesaving devices can send warnings up to 30 minutes before someone realizes he or she is in danger of heat stroke–potentially saving lives.

Using Microsoft technology meant that Laing O’Rourke and MOQdigital didn’t have to develop as much technology themselves, accelerating the development of the system and allowing helmet prototypes to be built within months.

Working with Microsoft and becoming an ISV

The path to developing its own IP was a learning process for MOQdigital. When setting out to make this transformation, Badran recommends looking objectively at the work you’ve done in the past, examining what you did well, and what you could improve on. “What can we learn from our previous engagement? What can we put together that saves us effort tomorrow based on the things we learned yesterday? There’s no such thing as a mistake. The only mistake is to not make a mistake.”

A challenge that MOQdigital and other ISVs can experience is that IP innovations can be limited by the needs of their clients. “[IP] innovation for MOQdigital is limited to our next customer opportunity. A customer comes along and says ‘I need this.’ Without a customer, I cannot really take an opportunity forward.”

Badran also attributes part of MOQdigital’s success to the relationships he has with Microsoft and MPN. “Connect with your partners at Microsoft; explore those relationships, nurture them. We’ve had some exceptional help along the way. Going into some of these engagements arm-in-arm with Microsoft validates what we do and what we bring to the table. In the customer’s eyes, this gives the opportunity a lot of credibility. ‘Wow, Microsoft are coming in as part of this’ whatever the relationship might be, whatever the function of each party, it really helps–it’s much stronger when we work together.”

What partners can do today to commercialize intellectual property

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Openly approach Commercialization

Consider that what you develop today might already have other commercial applications.

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Engage a customer or partner

Approach those whom you have a good relationship with to discuss your idea. Seek opportunities to work together to realize your vision.

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Think across verticals

Are there other applications for a solution you’re creating for a client?

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Learn from prior engagements

Look for efficiencies and ways to reuse code.

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Consider your IP

Can your IP utilize or add to existing technology?

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Build unique IP to be flexible

Consider that what you develop today might already have other commercial applications.

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