Medical technologies marketing company, Link Healthcare, wanted top-grade communication tools to help power expansion in Asia. In 2011, they began using Microsoft Office 365, which provides Exchange, Lync and SharePoint server features from the
cloud. This means Link Healthcare can almost instantly provide new employees abroad with the latest Office suite and email, as well as desktop videoconferencing and secure document-sharing capabilities. Two years later, the company has doubled its headcount,
penetrated new markets, improved compliance and improved productivity.
By mid-2011, Sydney-based pharmaceutical and medical technology company, Link Healthcare, was growing rapidly. With over 25 marketing staff already working across Australia and two in New Zealand, Managing Director Nicolas Shortis wanted to double the size
of the company in the following two years.
“We wanted to grow in Asia and were on the verge of opening a new office in Singapore,” says Shortis. “However, our existing on-premises server infrastructure and licensing stood in the way of rapid expansion.”
To work effectively, sales and marketing staff need to collaborate intensively, sharing medical sales information and medicine protocols. The main tool staff used to do this was email, for which
||Every step we took abroad, we took the incremental benefits of Office 365 with us. Instead of communication being a barrier to regional growth plans, it’s powered it.
| Nicolas Shortis,
Managing Director, Link Healthcare
Link Australia maintained an on-premises Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 running Microsoft Exchange. For remote access, the firm had a terminal server that enabled staff to access email via Microsoft Outlook, and files via the local file server.
“Our main problem was that even though we were a small company, we needed external IT support to update and secure email servers,” says Shortis. “This was an overhead that would increase as we expanded. I also wanted sales staff to have the full Outlook
experience, wherever they were.”
“Additionally, our overall licensing arrangements needed to be more systematic,” he adds. “With staff using different versions of Microsoft Office on multiple devices, compliance was a business risk. We wanted transparent control over all licensing, not
least so that staff got the best tools for our money.”
A cost-benefit analysis revealed that once his company exceeded 40 staff, the cost of supporting on-premises servers would likely become more expensive than a hosted arrangement. Before selecting an alternative delivery model, however, Shortis formulated
two key IT objectives.
“First, I wanted Microsoft Office and Outlook email that I could deploy to new hires anywhere in Asia, quickly and without infrastructure costs,” he says. “Second, I wanted more powerful team collaboration. For example, if my new staff abroad had easy-to-use
desktop videoconferencing, I could ease the path and reduce the pain of overseas expansion.”
In December 2010, Link Healthcare approached the national telecoms company, Telstra, which provides the Microsoft Office 365 collaboration suite as a subscription service. Telstra referred Shortis to Office 365 specialist, Domatech. “The attraction of Office
365 is that it’s really a hybrid cloud solution,” says Shane Domaschenz, Partner, Domatech. “The Office applications are still downloaded onto each user-device, so performance is just the same. Only the server elements such as Exchange and SharePoint sit in
the cloud, where Microsoft maintains them.”
“We chose Office 365 because it was a great way to grow our business on a person-by-person basis,” says Shortis. “Under the E3 plan, we got the latest version of Office Professional Plus, including Outlook email. And we also got company-wide collaboration
tools with SharePoint and Lync, without having to invest in servers.”
With Microsoft Lync in Office 365, company staff in Australia and abroad can connect voice or video calls direct from their desktop. They can also collaborate on the same document during a call using the desktop-sharing feature. And by storing business documents
in SharePoint, Shortis can ensure the operative version is always available, but never outside his control.
According to Domaschenz, switching over to Office 365 was relatively straightforward. “Once staff details in Active Directory were up-to-date, the transition to cloud-based Exchange only took one weekend,” he says. “I spent about one week installing the
latest Office applications onto staff devices. And when new overseas staff members join, they can be coached through the install process in one short phone call. Adding new staff in Asia to the Office 365 network usually only takes just five minutes.”
Two years on, and Office 365 has proved its value, helping to support the firm’s Asia-Pacific headcount—which more than doubled to 63—while reducing fixed and operational IT costs. For employees, desktop videoconferencing has become the natural way to work.
Powering international collaboration
With Office 365, Link Healthcare has been able to immediately equip overseas recruits with all the IT capabilities of Sydney-based staff. “Setting up individual users in remote locations is very easy,” says Shortis. “We added four new staff in Singapore,
five in Tokyo and two in Auckland with very little difficulty.
“Every step we took abroad, we took the incremental benefits of Office 365 with us. Desktop videoconferencing, and document collaboration in SharePoint are now an essential part of the way we work. Instead of communication being a barrier to international
growth, it’s powered it.”
Reducing investment costs
Office 365 proved particularly valuable in South Africa. In 2012, Link Healthcare acquired another medical marketing company in Pretoria, and immediately provisioned 12 South African staff with Office 365 using Australia-purchased licences. “By supporting
all their IT from here, we get the benefits of centralised IT–including excellent security and service availability–while practically eliminating hardware and travel costs.”
With Office 365, all staff use the same version of the same Office suite, and Shortis knows exactly what he is paying for. “Office 365 definitely helps with compliance,” he says. “Now we have much tighter control over what’s on each individual PC or laptop.
The administration required to check compliance is nulled.”
“With greater IT transparency, we lower business risk and costs,” he adds. “Now we only ever pay for what we actually use. We can add and remove users and licences on a monthly basis. At the same time, per-user licensing means each employee can use Office
applications on up to five different devices.”
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