“For us, response time is everything. If we can’t communicate, we can’t respond. With Office 365, we can share and act on information in just seconds—at half the cost of our previous solution.”
Claus Olsen, CIO, Danish Red Cross
The Danish Red Cross wanted to reduce communication costs by transitioning its messaging and collaboration solutions to the cloud. When employees started using the beta version of Microsoft Office 365 to communicate via email
and videoconferencing, they found more cost-efficient ways to share critical information across borders—and more opportunities to enhance communication in the future.
As part of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the Danish Red Cross offers relief and support to those in need—especially in times of crises. Because response time is critical in overcoming or averting disaster, fast and reliable communication
is the lifeblood of the branch.
||When it comes to disaster response, being able to communicate and share information 24/7 is critical,” says Olsen. “The flexibility of Office 365, plus the 99.9% uptime guarantee from Microsoft, helps us do that with ease.
Danish Red Cross
To help its 250 employees communicate more efficiently—and help avert disaster or provide relief to those in need even faster—the company set a strategic mandate to strengthen its communications.
Claus Olsen, CIO of Danish Red Cross, explains, “We help build or rebuild communications infrastructure in places hit by hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes. Time is critical in that effort, and so is coordinating across borders. We need to be sure we have the
best possible ways to communicate with each other in order to help those who need it most.”
For messaging and collaboration support, the Danish Red Cross had used on-premise email servers. But while this technology provided a reliable way to exchange information, it was costly to manage and maintain. “We simply don’t have the resources to effectively
manage on-site systems,” notes Olsen. “As a non-profit, we’re looking for an even more cost-effective solution to managing email and collaboration.”
The company also wanted to find ways to reduce travel expenses related to staff meetings, such as employing reliable video-conferencing that would enable colleagues to easily share documents or other information in near real-time.
With all of that in mind, Olsen decided to beta test Microsoft Office 365, a set of collaboration tools that provides anywhere access to email, contacts, and documents, at a fraction of the cost typically associated with physical infrastructure. He quickly
saw that this solution would not only help the Danish Red Cross achieve its communication objectives, it would also reveal unforeseen opportunities.
From the moment he learned about Office 365, Olsen knew it was the right solution for the Danish Red Cross. With a set of easy-to-use cloud-based management tools, Office 365 makes it easy to transition to the cloud and stay connected to colleagues regardless
of location. Plus, a fixed monthly per-user cost provides predictability—a great relief for a non-profit organization that must routinely tackle the unexpected.
As a result, the Danish Red Cross can cut communications costs without compromising on capabilities. “With Office 365 our employees and volunteers can still get the critical information they need—but at a cost significantly lower than we paid for our previous
solution,” notes Olsen. And what we don’t spend on technology, we can allocate to aid.”
With next-generation cloud communications provided by Lync Online, an Office 365 feature that provides messaging, audio/video calling, and web conferencing capabilities, the Danish Red Cross can significantly cut down on travel expenses related to organizational
meetings. “We can now allocate more travel resources to providing on-site aid while still being able to plan and share ideas and documents together at the same time,” Olsen says.
What’s more, the solution gives the Danish Red Cross another way to help Red Cross organizations in other locations. As Olsen explains, “We can strengthen the communication within Red Cross societies that can really use it, such as those based in third-world
countries. Right now we’re working on helping the Mali Red Cross find better ways to communicate with the outside world—what we call bridging the digital divide. By enabling access to the latest communication and collaboration tools without requiring an expensive
server or dedicated IT staff, Office 365 provides the perfect way to achieve this.”
Office 365 includes Microsoft Exchange Online, a hosted email solution that gives organizations of all sizes secure, flexible, and reliable ways to manage communications. This cloud-based service provides users with 25 gigabytes of mailbox storage space
as well as the ability to share calendars and contacts. “When it comes to disaster response, being able to communicate and share information 24/7 is critical,” says Olsen. “The flexibility of Office 365, plus the 99.9% uptime guarantee from Microsoft, helps
us do that with ease.”
Cut Costs in Half
With its combined features, Office 365 will enable the Danish Red Cross to reallocate budget from IT services toward outreach and rebuilding initiatives. “For us, response time is everything. If we can’t communicate, we can’t respond,” Olsen states. “With
Office 365, we can share and act on information in just seconds—at half the cost of our previous solution.”
Reduce Need for Travel
Lync Online enables the Danish Red Cross to reduce meeting-related travel expenses—and redirect those funds to additional relief efforts.“Lync gives us an easy and secure way to schedule conference calls and share what’s on our desktops,” remarks Olsen.
“This is huge. It won’t completely eliminate the need for travel, but I expect we can reduce these costs by 30 percent.”
The Danish Red Cross is also finding new ways Office 365 will help its organization communicate easily and effectively. For example, Microsoft SharePoint Online offers a tool called MySites, which provides a central location for individual users to view
and manage information—and for people to learn about others’ areas of expertise.
“We’re looking at implementing MySites for all volunteers in Denmark—that’s about 20,000 people—so we can search for specific skills and quickly see who has been trained for what,” says Olsen. “It’s fantastic that Office 365 gives us the possibility of developing
solutions like this—ones that can add value for our organization and for people all over the world.”
For more information about the Danish Red Cross products and services, visit the website at:
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