4-page Case Study
Posted: 2/27/2013
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Midroc Europe European Property Developer Expands into New Markets with Office 365

Based in Sweden, Midroc Europe is a group of 13 companies operating in the areas of properties, building, and industry and environmental technology. With European operations expanding and more employees working remotely, it lacked modern tools for cross-company communications and project collaboration. Recognizing that a more familiar and easy-to-use solution would address its employees’ needs and IT needs better, Midroc Europe decided to adopt the cloud-based services in Microsoft Office 365. With Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus, it avoided compatibility issues by taking advantage of new deployment and telemetry capabilities to deploy the Office client applications. Now, with the latest productivity tools and access to email and project information in the cloud, employees collaborate better and get more work done when traveling, working at customer sites, or from their modern devices.

Situation
Midroc Europe is a group of 13 companies with Sweden as base and with operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The companies are a comprehensive partner in the areas of properties, building, and industry and environmental technology. Midroc Europe has 2,600 employees and its revenue in 2011 was 3.5 billion SEK (US$546 million).

Businessman Mohammed Al-Amoudi formed the Midroc Europe Group in 1996 with the help of Lennart Wikström. The group’s goal is to help its customers be more competitive and to contribute to a better future through the implementation of sustainable solutions and innovation. Its strategy is to let each company develop according to its own potential, but also to work with each other as much as possible to create synergy effects. While the bulk of operational activities are in Sweden, Midroc Europe is expanding its business into Europe and beyond by establishing branches and business operations in France, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, and South Africa.

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* With cloud services, anywhere access, and support of modern devices, we now have the flexibility to better meet the needs of our employees.” *

Martin Siltanen
Head of IT Operations, Midroc Europe

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Midroc Europe employees often travel and work on projects at customer sites. With only a centralized email solution and traditional phones, Midroc Europe lacked modern tools for cross-company communications and collaboration. Virtual teams wanted real-time communications tools, such as instant messaging and video conferencing, to work better together. Project teams wanted better collaboration tools so they could share documents and status with team members, and have the option to securely share project information with external partners. Employees who worked outside the office needed the flexibility to access email, documents, and project information from their modern devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

The IT staff at Midroc Europe sought to address these growing needs, but kept uncovering deployment concerns when evaluating the company’s existing technology infrastructure. For document sharing and collaboration, the IT staff used Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, but they had not deployed it to rest of the organization due to limited resources to cover its disparate operations. Midroc Europe did not have an online communications solution which meant employees relied heavily on email and voice mail to communicate.

While most employees used Microsoft Office 2007, the IT staff delayed upgrading Office because they worried that application compatibility issues could disrupt business. IT needed time to test compatibility between the new Office version and line-of-business applications, templates, and reports. Martin Siltanen, Head of IT Operations and Infrastructure Architect, says, “History proved that testing for 100 percent compatibility with each new version of Office would take a significant amount of time and cause delays in deployment.”

For messaging, Midroc Europe managed Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 on-premises. The aging solution was still reliable, but employees desired larger mailboxes and easier connectivity for modern smartphones and tablets. After analyzing an upgrade to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 on-premises, the IT staff grew concerned about the hardware, storage, and deployment costs, and the amount of time it would take them to complete the project.

In addition, Midroc Europe questioned when it should invest in mailboxes for all employees. Up to this point, it had only provided Exchange mailboxes to 1,100 employees with company PCs, which meant approximately 1,500 site workers, construction workers, and technicians had no company email, instead relying on less efficient phone and paper bulletins. Midroc Europe was keen to provide email for everyone to improve communications between employees and management across the organization, but it was concerned about the additional license and storage costs.

To address these challenges, Midroc Europe decided to explore a new platform and looked at cloud-based solutions from Microsoft and Google. Siltanen says, “We believe a cloud-based solution will not only lower our costs and address our deployment concerns, but it will also better serve the needs of our employees. We want to make it easier for them to communicate cross-company and work from anywhere and any device.”

Solution
Recognizing that a more familiar and easy-to-use solution would address its employees’ needs and IT needs better, Midroc Europe decided to adopt the Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services instead of Google Apps. Office 365 brings together cloud-based versions of Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Lync Online as a connected solution with the familiar Microsoft Office applications in Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus. “Microsoft has been a reliable partner for many years,” says Siltanen. “We wanted to continue to work with Microsoft, and we believed it was much easier to go with a solution our IT staff and, more importantly, our employees are familiar with. The seamless experience between Office 365 ProPlus and the online services in Office 365 makes it an easy transition and minimizes business disruption.” By profiling its employees into usage types, Midroc Europe was able to cost effectively provide all 2,600 employees with Office 365 online services, including the previously underserved 1,500 employees who will now have access to email and online company information for the first time.

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* By using Click-to-Run in Office 365 ProPlus, we can deliver Office upgrades to employees faster. If they find compatibility issues, they can still be productive with Office side-by-side. *

Martin Siltanen
Head of IT Operations, Midroc Europe

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Office 365 Deployment
In early 2013, Microsoft worked with Midroc Europe to provide 1,100 employees access to the new Office 365 cloud services and client applications. The company plans to expand services to the remaining 1,500 employees by mid-2013. Siltanen says, “We were very pleased about the opportunity Microsoft presented us to deploy the new Office 365 as quickly as possible. We felt like access to Office 365 ProPlus and the social capabilities in SharePoint Online were critical to the success of our deployment and adoption.”

Office 365 ProPlus
Office 365 ProPlus is one of the main reasons why Midroc Europe wanted access to the next generation of Office 365. Office 365 ProPlus is the full client version of Office, including Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft OneNote, and built-in connectivity to Office 365 services. The IT staff was excited to work with Office 365 ProPlus because Office 365 ProPlus includes new deployment and telemetry capabilities that helped them accelerate installation and employee adoption. Plus, employees will be always up-to-date with the latest Office upgrades and updates.

To scope the initial upgrade, the IT staff used the enhanced telemetry tools to see what versions of Office employees were running and what potential compatibility issues they might face. Peter McCollough, a Microsoft consultant supporting Midroc Europe, says, "During our first test of 600 users, we only found one plug-in that was incompatible with the new Office. The telemetry tool not only found the issue, but it also generated the policy object we used to disable it.”

Next, the IT staff used Click-to-Run, the new streaming and virtualization technology built-in to Office 365 ProPlus, to significantly reduce the time to install the latest version of Office on employees’ computers. Using Click-to-Run, Midroc Europe was able to install Office using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager for employees on the network. Remote employees were able to self-install Office over the Internet through the Office 365 service. Employees were able to download and begin using Office within minutes, even before the Office suite was fully installed on their computers. Click-to-Run provides an isolated environment for Office to run on employees’ computers, so they can use the latest version of Office side-by-side with Office 2007 or even Office 2003. This was a significant benefit for Midroc Europe because it immediately mitigated the risk of business disruption caused by compatibility issues. If something is not compatible, the employee can easily open the older Office client and continue working. Siltanen says, “With Click-to-Run, we now have a way to handle potential compatibility issues with Office side-by-side. Plus, we can get all employees working from the latest version of Office.”

SharePoint Online
The new SharePoint Online was another important reason why Midroc Europe chose Office 365. By using SharePoint Online, employees across the Midroc Europe companies are sharing knowledge and interacting on the company’s own social networking system. Employees are taking advantage of new social capabilities such as the Newsfeed on Community Sites to conduct open discussions with their colleagues and get answers in real time. A Newsfeed is a summary of all the employee’s social interactions from microblogs to community conversations. Employees in all the Midroc Europe companies can follow people, teams, documents, and project sites from across the organization and learn from the latest business developments. Employees can also use popular social networking features like hashtags, likes, and the ability to ‘@’ mention a coworker in a post. SharePoint even recommends people and documents to follow based on employee interests and responsibilities.

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* The Office 365 cloud platform is even better than we originally thought. For the future, we are certain that Microsoft will continue to innovate and address our changing business needs. *

Martin Siltanen
Head of IT Operations, Midroc Europe

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Employees are also managing files better from multiple devices by saving to SkyDrive Pro. Through SkyDrive Pro, the IT staff has provisioned and now manages personal cloud storage for each employee in SharePoint Online. Employees can save files directly to SkyDrive Pro from Office applications and then access files from virtually any modern device connected to the Internet. They can also synchronize work-related files from SharePoint Online directly to their laptops and tablets so they can access the files offline, and synchronize the files automatically when they connect again. In addition, employees can use SkyDrive Pro to share their personal files with others by sharing a link to their site. Siltanen says, “Because employees can control who can access their folders or documents in SkyDrive Pro, we see this as a more secure option for sharing files compared to sending an attachment through email, which could be forwarded to an unwanted recipient.”

The Chief Financial Officer at Midroc Europe, Olle Kylinger, liked the new and improved business intelligence (BI) capabilities, such as Power View, in SharePoint Online and Office 365 ProPlus. Power View is built-in functionality in Excel that brings data to life with interactive and powerful data exploration, visualization, and new presentation features. Employees reading an Excel workbook can view and interact with the Power View sheets in SharePoint Online in a variety of ways, including filtering, sorting, and highlighting data in charts, slicers, and other visualizations. Siltanen says, “After seeing Power View and the other BI capabilities in Excel and SharePoint, we realized we could avoid buying a third-party BI solution and potentially save thousands of euros.”

Finally, the IT staff can easily develop custom solutions, such as construction site or new property workspaces in SharePoint Online and manage policies and controls to allow project teams the flexibility to share project information with external partners.

Exchange Online
With Exchange Online, Midroc Europe employees continue to enjoy fast and reliable email service. Using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, employees can easily connect to email on most smartphones and tablets. Employees also like the consistent user interface between Outlook on their desktop and Microsoft Outlook Web App, which they can access from virtually any modern browser. The IT staff no longer worries about mailbox size and the impact to storage costs because Exchange Online provides 25 gigabyte (GB) mailboxes and the ability to archive to an unlimited storage. Project teams can use a new capability called site mailboxes to stay in sync. Site mailboxes associate an Exchange mailbox with a SharePoint site so project teams can access up-to-date SharePoint and Exchange content from Outlook.

Lync Online
Lync Online is a new solution for Midroc Europe and employees have quickly adopted its real-time communications and collaboration capabilities, such as instant messaging, presence, desktop sharing, and PC-to-PC calls. Project teams can enhance the effectiveness of virtual meetings by taking advantage of multiparty high-definition (HD) video conferencing, real-time note taking in OneNote, and screen sharing. Even external partners who do not have Lync installed on their PCs can effectively participate in Lync meetings by using Microsoft Lync Web App. Siltanen says, “We anticipate Lync Online will give our employees the ability to easily find each other and communicate and collaborate better than ever before.”

Benefits
By moving to the cloud-based services in Office 365, Midroc Europe opened new possibilities for cross-company communications and collaboration and improved how its employees work with each other and with partners. With access to email and project information in the cloud, employees can be more productive when traveling, working at customer sites, or from their modern devices. In addition, the IT staff mitigated the risk of compatibility issues, reduced administration, and avoided costs.

Improves Productivity Through Anywhere Access
With Office 365, Midroc Europe can deliver new and more efficient ways for its geographically dispersed employees to access company email, project information, and each other, whether on a PC, smartphone, or tablet. For example, employees on a highway construction project in France can now use social capabilities in SharePoint Online and multiparty video conferencing in Lync Online to learn from colleagues in Sweden. Employees who travel with a tablet device can continue working on a project document saved in SkyDrive Pro. For the first time, employees who traditionally did not have a company-issued PC can send or read an email from their smartphone, or report their hours in SharePoint Online from a shared PC. “With cloud services, anywhere access, and support of modern devices, we now have the flexibility to better meet the needs of our employees,” says Siltanen. “Office 365 ProPlus seamlessly connected to the Office 365 online services make this all possible, and it is a very effective way for our employees to work.”

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* With Office 365, we now have the capabilities we need to build our solution the way we envision it. *

Martin Siltanen
Head of IT Operations, Midroc Europe

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Improves Cross-Company Communications and Project Collaboration
Midroc Europe can use the real-time communication capabilities in Lync Online and the social capabilities in SharePoint Online to open new ways for its employees to communicate and collaborate. It can also use these technologies to work with its partners more securely. In addition, Midroc Europe expanded the reach of its online communications by including all workers in Office 365. “Because Lync Online and SharePoint Online are new tools for Midroc Europe, we believe the adoption of Office 365 will be a huge step forward for our company,” says Siltanen. “With employees and partners working more closely together, we can deliver successful property development projects more easily.”

Reduces Business Disruption During Office Upgrades
With faster installs and streaming technology in Office 365 ProPlus, Midroc Europe significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to deliver and install Office upgrades. By using Click-to-Run and Office side-by-side, the company reduced the risk of business disruptions caused by application compatibility issues during Office installs and upgrades. Siltanen says, “By using Click-to-Run in Office 365 ProPlus, we can deliver Office upgrades to employees faster. If they find compatibility issues, they can still be productive with Office side-by-side.”

Eases IT Administration
By adopting a cloud-based solution, Midroc Europe reduced administration tasks such as performing server maintenance and applying upgrades and patches. Midroc Europe now receives automated upgrades and patches to the Office 365 online services and Office client applications from Microsoft. The daily maintenance tasks that the IT staff performs have drastically decreased, and even those have been simplified. While Microsoft delivers premium antispam and antivirus protection, georedundant data centers, 24-four-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week IT-level phone support, and a financially backed, 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement, the IT staff can spend more time on other strategic projects and focus on helping Midroc Europe expand its business.

Avoids IT Costs
With its move to Office 365, Midroc Europe avoided spending thousands of euros on hardware costs related to servers, storage disks, and facilities. It will save money on IT labor by reducing the amount of time the IT staff spends on daily maintenance and future deployments. The company also believes it can spend less on PCs in the future because some of its employees will only require a tablet device, which is less expensive than a desktop or laptop PC. In addition, it can avoid the cost of third-party BI software by using products that employees already know, like Excel and SharePoint.

For next steps, Midroc Europe plans to design a new business solution using the capabilities in Office 365 to create a virtual project room for its employees and partners to drive successful projects. Midroc Europe employees and its partners will use the solution to share contracts, construction specifications, property blueprints, project documents, and meeting notes. “Before, we thought we would have to invest in a third-party solution to solve this need,” says Siltanen. “With Office 365, we now have the capabilities we need to build our solution the way we envision it.”

Siltanen concludes, “The Office 365 cloud platform is even better than we originally thought. For the future, we are certain that Microsoft will continue to innovate and address our changing business needs.”

Microsoft Office 365
The new Office provides anywhere access to your familiar Office applications—plus email, calendar, video conferencing, and your most current documents—on almost any device, from PCs to smartphones to tablets.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:
www.office365.com

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Midroc products and services, visit the website at:
www.midroc.se

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 2600 employees

Organization Profile

Midroc Europe is focused on property development, property management, and industrial and environmental contracting.


Business Situation

With expanding operations, it lacked tools for communications and collaboration. Remote employees wanted better access to email and information.


Solution

Midroc Europe deployed Microsoft Office 365 and Office 365 ProPlus. With virtually anywhere access, from modern devices, it now has the flexibility to meet its employees’ needs.


Benefits

  • Improves productivity through anywhere access
  • Improves cross-company communications and project collaboration
  • Reduces business disruption during Office upgrades
  • Eases IT administration
  • Avoids IT costs


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • Lync Online
  • SkyDrive Pro

Vertical Industries
Architecture, Engineering & Construction

Country/Region
Sweden

Languages
English

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