Irish Chemical Company Reduces Costs, Supports Growth with Microsoft Office 365
I don’t get enthusiastic about too many things in life, but Office 365 is brilliant.
Aiden Brady, Finance Director, Carbon Group
Irish chemical company Carbon Group manufactures and distributes industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals, as well as food ingredients and coatings products. To implement a key element of its five-year strategic plan and continue expansion, the organization wanted to find a way for its three offices and 60 employees to communicate more effectively.
The company turned to IT solutions provider Compunet for help, which in turn recommended Microsoft Office 365, an online service which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with email, calendaring, collaboration, and communication solutions. Carbon Group made the switch to Office 365 and never looked back. With faster access to information and significantly improved connectivity, the business is able to make better-and smarter-decisions that support its customers, and its continued growth.
Though quite adept at delivering acids, enzymes and lactases to suit its customers’ needs, Carbon Group needed a more effective way to coordinate its internal operations.
"The whole range of products-from SharePoint Online to Lync Online and the integration with Microsoft Office-is so far ahead of Google Apps that there’s really no comparison."
- Aiden Brady, Finance Director Carbon Group
For mobile sales professionals, immediate access to critical information was hindered by the company’s Virtual Private Network (VPN). When accessing product specifications or insurance documents for customers while out in the field, salespeople had to stop what they were doing, dial into the VPN, wait for a secure connection and then search their email inboxes for the necessary files.
"We had a small, archaic server in Belfast that wasn’t particularly reliable,” says Aiden Brady, the company’s Group Finance Director. “Waiting for a connection was a waste of time-and it was a pain for both our employees and customers."
Technical inadequacies also hampered the organisation’s ability to efficiently make sound decisions. Multi-party discussions took place most frequently over the telephone, and stakeholders could not participate as fully as they would like. “It just wasn’t convenient to meet,” Brady says. “Usually by the time we managed to round up the key players, time was critical and we’d have to make important decisions faster than we’d like.”
Despite the IT challenges, Carbon Group continued to grow, having acquired four business over 11 years and delivering quality products and services to customers. Yet this expansion raised new complications.
“We were probably facing the cost of a new server to manage these acquisitions and bring on new employees,” says Brady. “But we wanted to avoid those upfront costs of an on-premises solution-which could add up to €40,000 and still require maintenance and upgrades over time.”
Carbon Group leaders researched alternatives to an on-premises solution, hoping that a more cost-effective solution could address their needs. “We looked into Google Apps, but it just didn’t provide the business features we needed, like the capacity for online meetings,” Brady explains.
Instead, the company opted to transition to Microsoft Office 365, a suite that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications into one powerful, connected, online solution. “The whole range of products-from SharePoint Online to Lync Online and the integration with Microsoft Office-is so far ahead of Google Apps that there’s really no comparison,” says Brady. “Since everyone in the company was already familiar with the Microsoft interface, they found Office 365 easy and intuitive to use.”
SharePoint Online gives employees-including the company’s 15 traveling salespeople-anywhere access to important files. “Gone are the days when we relied solely on emails to relay information,” Brady says. “We can access information through the cloud from our laptops or mobile devices and that improves our response times to customer inquiries.”
"The connectivity, simplicity, and predictable monthly costs is reason enough to make the switch, but our Office 365 subscription also includes upgrades to the latest products."
- Aiden Brady, Finance Director Carbon Group
In addition, Lync Online eliminates the boundaries that previously prevented stakeholders from coming together to make decisions. The program’s audio and video capabilities give employees easy access to each other. “Decision making was challenging before, because our technology made round-table discussions difficult,” Brady says. “Lync enables us to instantly connect people from Cork, Dublin and Belfast at any time, from any place.”
Brady’s enthusiasm extends to the ease-of-use and scalability of Office 365. “We don’t have an IT department, so upgrading to an on-premises server was daunting. With Office 365, we get all of the benefits of a traditional server without the extra maintenance costs, servers, and support contracts while being able to scale to add new employees and capabilities.”
With Office 365, Carbon Group has been able to offer its customers faster, higher quality service, in turn creating more business.
“I don’t get enthusiastic about too many things in life,” Brady says, “but Office 365 is brilliant.”
Office 365 has united Carbon Group like never before. “I love the connectivity and ease with which all the products and services work together seamlessly,” Brady says. “We’re creating a better corporate culture across the board.”
Even from the road, employees can tap into the cloud through SharePoint Online, which puts relevant information right at their fingertips. “Except for the scenery, working remotely is almost like working in the office,” Brady says. “We have reliable, intuitive and integrated on-the-go access to our documents and information from our laptops or mobile phones. That, in turn, improves our customer service.”
Better business decisions
Lync Online eliminates the lag time inherent in email communication, bringing employees together on the spot for instant messaging sessions and audio and video chats. “No matter whether employees are in Dublin or Belfast, they can fully participate in our operational meetings,” Brady says. “Lync enables us to have engaging roundtable discussions and make better decisions in less time.”
Ongoing growth-and savings
According to Brady, Office 365 is supporting Carbon Group’s long-term business goals. “We could acquire a new business as we continue to grow and it is the simplest thing in the world to bring on new people with Office 365,” he says.
“The connectivity, simplicity, and predictable monthly costs is reason enough to make the switch, but our Office 365 subscription also includes upgrades to the latest products,” Brady adds, noting the company will be able to save thousands of Euros it would have spent on upgrading and maintaining a traditional server infrastructure. “Let’s be honest, there is no logical reason to ever go back to an on-premises solution.”
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products-Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online-with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.
Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.
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