When “KPI’s” are “RBI’s”: Microsoft Takes Customers Out to the Ballgame to Demonstrate Benefits of Scorecard Software

REDMOND, Wash., May 12, 2006 – Alex Rodriguez. Albert Pujols. Pedro Martinez. Roger Clemens. The stats of a few of Major League Baseball’s heaviest hitters and the sport’s top pitchers just might give business decision makers some management pointers this year

In an effort to demonstrate the potential of its new server-based business performance management scorecard application, Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 (BSM), the company is touring Major League Baseball stadiums this spring and summer. Select customers will be invited to join Microsoft executives in hosted skyboxes to watch a game and view a demo of Business Scorecard Manager as it relates to baseball and the key performance indicators (KPIs) of different teams and players.

Designed to help organizations align strategy with action, and perform analysis by allowing them to build, manage and use scorecards and KPIs, Business Scorecard Manager could help provide companies with a broad view of business opportunities, through which employees could better understand business challenges, effectively shape solutions and quickly execute their objectives.

To get a better sense of how Business Scorecard Manager might empower employees at all levels with robust business intelligence solutions – and how MLB teams might get tips to improve their game, too – PressPass spoke with Michael Smith, a marketing director in Microsoft’s Office Business Applications group.

PressPass: Tell us a bit more about the Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 application and what it’s designed to do.

Smith: It is a Microsoft Office application that’s designed to empower employees to build, manage and use their own scorecards, reports and visual graphs using familiar tools. With these tools, they can analyze relationships between key performance indicators (KPIs) and practical business objectives.

More specifically, it’s a Web-based solution that provides organizations with a cost-effective stage on which to articulate goals, priorities and strategies, monitor business activity through performance metrics, identify and analyze issues, and collaborate and act on business intelligence.

PressPass: How does that actually play out within an organization? Can you give us some user scenarios?

Screenshot of Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005. Click image to launch demo video.

Smith: A lot of companies struggle to articulate their strategies and align daily activities to ensure goals are achieved. Say a company’s major concern is customer satisfaction. The Business Scorecard Manager breaks up this objective into supporting objectives that employees are responsible for, like product quality. At the bottom of the list are the key performance indicators, so, for example, a KPI could be a percentage of merchandise returns. With the scorecard approach, individual employees can monitor a KPI that connects to a high-level objective. They are able to combine the scorecard functionality in a more meaningful, visual way with reports, charts, graphs and analysis tools as well as unstructured data, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Web sites.

Another example might be an organization that wishes to track its profitability. If a user clicks on a KPI titled “net” revenue, that user could view a chart showing net revenue over time. He or she could also view a report that shows revenue by region. They also could track customer satisfaction metrics. Arguably, if you don’t have happy customers, your financial track record will show that. Having access to business data and being able to quickly and easily visualize that data can lead to improved decision making within an organization. Business Scorecard Manager helps decision makers keep their priorities on track; they can easily identify and act to correct any problems that may arise.

PressPass: Where does Major League Baseball fit into all this?

Smith: We thought baseball would be a great way for Microsoft to introduce the Business Scorecard Manager product to customers. By relating it to something like baseball, we thought it would make it more approachable. And let’s face it; no sport pays as much attention to statistics as baseball. Like Alan Schwarz said in his book, “The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics,” “When you get right down to it, no corner of American culture is more precisely counted, more passionately quantified, than the performance of baseball players…(baseball statistics)…are recorded, analyzed, and memorized with an exactitude that humans summon only for matters so, well, so important.”

We’ve built a baseball scorecarding demonstration so that customers who attend the games with us can view one Scorecard that tracks pitching performance and one that evaluates batting performance. They’ll be able to see how easy it is to use, and hopefully begin thinking about how the application could be used within their organizations to improve business efficiency and boost their bottom line.

Eventually, we might also extend this promotion to include other stat-heavy sports, such as auto racing or golf. We think this “try-vertising” approach to marketing our product will go a long way towards demonstrating the real business value that can be achieved. The Business Scorecard Manager is most applicable for organizations looking for ways to streamline broad deployment of business intelligence tools.

PressPass: How does Business Scorecard Manager fit into Microsoft’s overall strategy for business intelligence for the Office System and worker productivity?

Smith: I think the Business Scorecard Manager is a very good example of Microsoft’s continued investment in Business Intelligence. It is unique in its focus on deep contextual analysis and collaboration as well as the team nature of today’s business decisions. This application puts the corporate strategy in front of every worker on a daily basis to align strategy with actions. Our goal is to allow business information to ‘surface’ in the Office applications people use every day so information workers can make faster, more informed decisions and take action to drive improved business performance.

PressPass: What should customers do if they’d like to attend a game and see the Business Scorecard Manager at work?

Smith: Interested customers should contact their Microsoft account manager for details. We’ve posted locations and dates for these BSM demo events at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/FX012225041033.aspx. You can also view a web demo of the BSM baseball scorecard at http://bimvp.com/bsmbaseball2005.wmv.

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