Our VP of Partnerships Zak Pines recently interviewed Anne Seymour and Addy Emery of SeedSpark as part of our ongoing Partner Interview Series. They had a conversation about the evolution of SeedSpark, the Transformation Continuum, and Anne and Addy’s perspective on Formstack’s Microsoft use cases. Here’s an abridged transcript of the chat.
The Evolution of SeedSpark
Zak: Let’s start with you, Anne, and talk about who is SeedSpark? Can you share background on the business and how it’s evolved over the years?
Anne: SeedSpark started in 2006 as an application development company, building apps for Blackberry devices and helping businesses run more effectively and efficiently using those technologies.
In 2011, SeedSpark merged with a sister company that provided managed services. And now we also provide digital marketing services as the third pillar of the business.
At SeedSpark, we believe technology is more than a tool. It’s a strategy. Unlike other IT providers, we strive to understand your long-term business objectives. Our approach helps you get the most out of technology, ensuring everything is aligned with your business goals. And because SeedSpark is a single source, it’s all a lot less complicated.
Zak: I like that single source message. We have a similar philosophy around our value as a partner as well. How has the company evolved since 2011?
Anne: In 2013, we hit the MSP 500 for the first time and continue to grow in the ranks there. We are now number 244 on the Inc 5000 for privately held companies, and number seven for fastest growing managed services businesses. We are now over 55 people with clients throughout the US.
Zak: What makes a great SeedSpark customer?
Anne: We focus on small- to medium-sized businesses. We can help them achieve more value with our approach for holistic solutions.
Zak: What industries are you focused on?
Anne: Some of our top verticals are construction, financial services, insurance, and manufacturing.
Zak: We have that in common. All four of those overlap industries where Formstack is also working with a lot of customers.
We also have a Microsoft partnership in common.
Anne: Yes, we are a silver-certified Microsoft partner, and we are on track to be gold-certified this year.
Zak: We’ve just announced a new PowerAutomate integration, so we have more capabilities than ever for Microsoft customers. Can you share the typical Microsoft stack you will help implement and manage for customers?
Anne: The typical Microsoft stack is Office 365, Azure, Microsoft Dynamics, PowerAutomate, and PowerBI. With the shift to work from home during the pandemic, our customers were already on these cloud-based systems, so they were able to quickly pivot to work from home. They had the technology and the security in place to do so.
Zak: As a big football fan, I saw a lot of commercials for Microsoft Teams this past year.
Anne: Yes, Microsoft Teams is part of Office 365. Office 365 includes Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Edge—along with the rest of the Office toolkit that has become foundational in the world of business. Those communication tools have now been leveraged in an even bigger way by customers in a work-from-home setting.
Teams combines your video meetings, real-time team communications, and even white-boarding. Azure is a hosting environment. Microsoft Dynamics is the CRM system. PowerBI is the reporting and business intelligence product set. And PowerAutomate ties everything together with integrations, as you and your team know from your new integration and product release.
SeedSpark’s Transformation Continuum
Zak: Okay, I want to welcome in Addy to the conversation and go back in time to hear about how both of you got to SeedSpark. Let’s start with you, Anne.
Anne: My career has been customer experience in the retail and consumer goods space. Developing strategies and concepts and taking them to scale. My passion has been how to grow something and scale it—making it into a profitable business that adds a lot of value to the end customer.
Zak: How long have you been with SeedSpark?
Anne: I came to SeedSpark a little over six months ago after having worked with Fortune 50 companies my whole career. I wanted to work with a smaller business and help create scale. We have a great team here—so many smart people. We are in the middle of a transition from a Charlotte-focused company to a national player over the next few years.
Zak: Addy, how about you?
Addy: I started in digital marketing for a small business, and that company grew significantly—from 10 people when I joined to over 200 people when I left.
I started at SeedSpark as a digital marketing specialist. I’ve always worked well with our CEO Chad Jenkins. I worked in account management for four years, and now I’ve transitioned to a new role as director of sales, managing our sales team and strategic initiatives. I’ve played a big part in creating our Transformation Continuum process and creating a scalable sales team.
Zak: You had me at “Transformation Continuum.” Can we go a level deeper into that?
Addy: The Transformation Continuum is a flywheel that we use to engage our clients. We can meet a client where they are, and determine where the business is and where they want to go.
It starts with stabilization. In order for your company to grow, we first need to make sure you are in a stable environment—business continuity, backup, stable network. Our managed services team can help in that area.
Then you have to prepare for growth—adoption of software, Office 365, integration across your company. You have to make sure users are trained on the system of record, and there is adoption.
The next piece is wiring through the business to drive efficiencies. Formstack comes into play at this stage. We help businesses transform their operations and software to set their business up to scale.
The next part is analytics—reflecting on growth and the growth drivers. What are the results? How does it continue? It’s a continual flywheel from there.
Perspective on Formstack for Microsoft Use Cases
Zak: Let’s get into your vision for how the Formstack and Microsoft integration will impact you and your customers.
Anne: Formstack has been pivotal. The combination of Formstack and PowerAutomate means that instead of data being static, now that data can populate across the appropriate applications. And the possibilities increase even further when you add in SeedSpark’s custom application development capabilities.
Zak: What are some specific use cases either you’ve worked on or you’re planning on bringing to customers?
Anne: Customer onboarding is a great use case—onboarding a new contractor. Businesses can leverage Formstack to drive efficiencies.
Here’s another one—asset tracking. We take a computer and deliver it to a client. We pick it up and repair it. We can manage that process using Formstack Forms. A technician can put in the information, the technician that it’s assigned to, the model, the serial number. They can capture a signature to complete the process from a technician and a customer. We can get that submitted, routed into our system, and associated to a ticket.
Zak: Great use case right there.
Anne: Here’s another one—Research and Development intake forms. Internal or external with customers. Capturing the information needed and routing to the correct person based on the type of request.
Zak: Would that use the PowerAutomate integration?
Anne: Yes, absolutely. You can take the intake form, submit it to a SharePoint list, and view that through Microsoft Teams. Then we can feed that data to PowerBI to understand patterns in the different types of requests we are getting.
Zak: What verticals specifically do you see these being applied to?
Anne: Construction firms have different products they loan out. We can leverage Formstack with the Microsoft automation to feed into different applications we’ve built for those clients.
Another one—a paint shop. They have ladders out on different jobs. We can scan a barcode, add it in, and submit that form.
Legal customers can use Formstack Documents and Sign to capture information and then get contracts signed.
Zak: I’m hearing a lot of what you are saying tying to the capture of data. Is there a play here for our Formstack Go application for mobile and offline data capture for Microsoft products?
Anne: Absolutely. We work with many customers who have mobile workers who may not have an Internet connection. Let’s say they are in a manufacturing plant without Wi-Fi access.
Or we’re working on a network assessment. Traditionally these have been handwritten—capturing info on routers, cabling through a building, security protocols. We can now use Formstack to digitize the data capture. The technicians won’t be online when they capture this information. When they get connected, Formstack Go syncs to the Formstack submission table, which we can now feed to where it needs to go via the PowerAutomate connector.
Maybe they are working in a server closet to get it rewired and reconfigured. Same thing—that can now get uploaded via Formstack. “We need 40 routers and five more switches.”
Addy: Or take a construction client. Let’s say they are wrapping the exterior of a home. The workers may or may not have Internet connection. Now they can capture details as they progress through the project, such as audits of safety checks, and have that sync back to a master system where the project is being managed.
Anne: Formstack transcends across so many examples as an efficiency play for an organization. Formstack streamlines data collection both internally and externally.
Let’s say we are onboarding a client with a Microsoft Office 365 deployment. There is so much ongoing data capture as you do that—Teams, SharePoint, admin rights.
Formstack standardizes the information at scale. And the PowerAutomate integration allows us to put that to work—in SharePoint, in Teams, in PowerBI, in Dynamics. We have so much flexibility in how we can use the data. Whenever and wherever you need that data, you can get it to that system without having to re-key or re-enter information.
Zak: Awesome discussion. Let’s wrap up with the lightning round, and I’ll popcorn to each of you. What are some of your personal interests or hobbies?
Anne: I love spending time outdoors, wake surfing, golfing, time with the dogs, skiing, watching my son play baseball. I’m obsessed with ongoing learning. I’m a tinkerer. For example, I just stood up a Microsoft Dynamics sandbox in December because that’s fun for me. Random podcasts, books, constant learning—those types of activities quiet my brain.
Addy: For me it’s also family time. I have three kids, and I’m about to have four! I play the violin, enjoy cooking and baking, and every once in a while go outside for a hike.
Zak: Do you have a favorite productivity tip?
Anne: I like a book called “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” by Nir Eyal. In today’s environment with so many tech tools out there to help you, there are more and more causes of distraction. I like to timebox my focus. On both a work and personal level, I know if I’m not healthy and happy, then those people around me will not be. My advice is take care of yourself first, and timeboxing helps me do that and make sure I’m not letting little things distract me.
Addy: Similar to Anne, time blocking is important to me. I have quite a heavy meeting schedule. I like to maintain a similar schedule each day, including my personal life—wake up, schedule with the kids. I keep a black notebook and use that for my to-do list.
Zak: Do you have a favorite TV show?
Anne: I don’t watch much TV, but if I have to pick I’ll say “Seinfeld.”
Addy: For me, it’s period dramas. I’m rewatching “Downton Abbey” now.
Zak: What’s your go-to lunch during the workday?
Anne: A veggie poke bowl—edamame, rice, sesame paste, carrots
Addy: I have something different for lunch every day. I have the same breakfast though—a smoothie.
Zak: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Addy: That’s a hard no for me.
Zak: You both agree on that.
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