By Nick Panos – Support Consultant
Associations are all about making connections. Whether it’s engaging with members, collaborating with partners and exhibitors at your next annual meeting or finding the right tools to elevate your team’s performance, it always circles back to connections. And the same goes for association technology.
Before cloud-based software, establishing those connections was a little bit more difficult. Complex integrations made it less attractive to add onto your association management system. Associations were compelled to use the out-of-the-box functionality of their AMS. And better alternatives simply didn’t exist yet.
A few years later and the best association management software operates purely on the cloud. With that pure cloud option comes a truly game-changing resource: Microsoft AppSource.
What is Microsoft AppSource?
For the uninitiated, Microsoft AppSource is essentially an app store for business applications. It’s like Google Play or Apple’s App Store, but instead of games to keep the young ones occupied or apps to help you waste time before boarding your next flight, AppSource exists to help organizations customize their user experience and improve overall functionality of their system.
So, why does Microsoft AppSource matter for associations? It solves one critical problem member-based associations have faced for years: improved connections from system-to-system and no more costly integrations.
Why Microsoft AppSource?
Well-managed associations often operate like a business. Each department has access to best-of-breed tools, but those systems tend to silo information. That’s a common and entirely reasonable challenge for any business or nonprofit to encounter. But what if you could connect your staff’s preferred systems in one centralized location? And what if you had access to an entire store of applications available at your fingertips, allowing your association to grow at its own pace?
That’s what can be achieved with Microsoft AppSource — not to mention the 200+ additional connectors that tie into Microsoft Dynamics 365. Here are some great add-ons association staff can use with Microsoft Dynamics 365, reducing clicks, saving money and improving productivity.
- Campaign Monitor
- Microsoft Forms Pro
But what is it that puts AppSource in a league of its own? Quality over quantity.
Microsoft AppSource: Quality over Quantity
Before considering the differences between AppSource and rival services, let’s consider a situation a little more common than purchasing a new AMS.
Think about the last time you purchased a phone. That decision was probably answered by a simple question: Android or iOS? It was most likely the operating system that sealed the deal.
But did you take into account the differences of Apple’s App Store versus Google Play? It’s an interesting, yet understandably ignored factor in the purchasing process, and it’s something often taken for granted by iOS users.
The App Store, for example, favors quality over quantity of apps, and it’s highly unlikely a bad app finds its way onto your device. Android, on the other hand, has purposely chosen a more open path toward publication. Here’s how Luke Dormehl, of the Cult of Mac blog, explained the advantage of the App Store:
“There are less security concerns, fewer ripoff apps, a lot less clones, and generally just a sense that the whole enterprise is better regulated, managed, and of higher quality.”
Better regulated. Managed. Higher quality. Remember those three key benefits.
While both have their advantages, Apple put users before developers. Sure, it may be more taxing for a developer to get its app onto the App Store, but iOS users rarely complain about a lack of apps on the platform.
Microsoft, a former Apple shareholder, has followed suit, where competitors have earned a reputation to be a little more lenient.
Microsoft, however, has taken the noble path. Software and apps do not get on Microsoft AppSource easily thanks to a thorough app submission process. Here’s how one expert of all things Microsoft, Steve Mordue, explained the process back in 2017:
“I am sure Microsoft is quite picky right now, and I would expect a fraction of those in the queue to actually gain approval.”
The rigorous set of standards to be published on AppSource are yet another example of Microsoft’s customer obsession. Under CEO Satya Nadella, customers come first, limiting unnecessary risk for association executives looking to add onto their AMS.
That focus on customer satisfaction is how I believe Microsoft created an app store that is better regulated, managed and of higher quality than the rest.
About the Author: Nick joined the Protech team in 2018, working to connect member-based organizations with innovative new technology.