Aisle7 provides marketing services for retailers’ wellness products. In 2010, it replaced Google Apps for Business with the first iteration of Microsoft cloud-based communication and collaboration services. Now, using the latest version of Microsoft
Office 365, employees have attained higher levels of productivity than ever. Today, Aisle7 is secure that its ongoing needs will be met through the continued innovation provided by Office 365.
Aisle7 was founded on the premise that an informed consumer is a healthy consumer. Food retailers choose Aisle7 to supply reliable health and wellness content to their customers by implementing Aisle7 solutions wherever their shoppers look for information—websites,
mobile phones, in-store kiosks, and social media.
The company has always promoted a modern work style with an emphasis on mobility. Approximately one-quarter of its 28 employees work from home or outside of the office. “We recognize that it’s important to balance work and family, and that commuting is not
good for the environment,” says Jake Harris, Director of IT at Aisle7. “We are committed to finding tools for our workforce that help them be productive no matter where they are—from our sales force to our receptionist.”
In 2009, Aisle7 took this commitment to IT services and decided to replace its on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 solution with cloud-based email. Employees used Microsoft Office 2003 productivity software, but Aisle7 wanted to reduce infrastructure
costs by introducing more online business productivity tools. The IT department subscribed to Google Apps Premier Edition but after nine months of problems with the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook tool, service outages, and poor customer support, Aisle7
decided to abandon Google Apps.
“We learned a few lessons with Google. While we were still committed to finding cloud-based business tools, we realized those tools had to be designed for the workplace, not for consumer use. We wanted continuously evolving products that we could grow with.
We wanted a business partner interested in our long-term success.”
In 2010, Aisle7 found the cloud partner that met its needs—Microsoft. Aisle7 subscribed to Microsoft Office 365, which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the power of Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online into
one connected, online solution “The nine months we used Google Apps were some of the most challenging of my career,” says Harris. “It was like night and day moving to the tried-and-true business productivity applications in Office 365.”
It didn’t take long for Aisle7 employees to get used to their new online communication and collaboration tools so when the company upgraded to Office 365, employees were ready to go.
“When we first moved to Office 365, Lync Online was a huge hit. Everyone uses its IM [instant messaging], presence capabilities, and web conferencing as part of their daily routine,” says Harris. “With Google Talk, staff had used a personal and a business
Gmail account. But you couldn’t run both at the same time, so we couldn’t count on people being on their corporate email. With Lync Online, everyone uses it all day for work, so you know that with one click, you can connect with someone through an IM or video
Employees appreciated that they could access their email from virtually any device or browser by using Outlook Web Access. They also liked their 25-gigabyte mailboxes and the MailTips feature in Exchange Online, which provides alerts that help employees
||The nine months we used Google Apps were some of the most challenging of my career. It was like night and day moving to the tried-and-true business productivity applications in Office 365.
| Jake Harris
Director of IT, Aisle7
“We got notification of the service upgrade to Office 365 in June 2013,” says Harris. “It was a seamless experience. A couple of people had to restart Outlook and that was it—we had all this new functionality, ready to use. We are looking forward to using SkyDrive
Pro to save our documents to SharePoint Online libraries.”
With the migration from Google Apps for Business to Microsoft Office 365, Aisle7 gains access to an evolving suite of communication and collaboration products designed to match the needs of a growing business.
“Compared to Google, Office 365 presents a better interface for everything you need to do at work,” says Harris. “For businesses, Office 365 just keeps getting better.”
Improved Mobility Boosts Productivity
With so many employees working outside of the office, Aisle7 is looking forward to taking advantage of the enhanced web mail interface with Exchange Online. The latest Outlook Web App automatically resizes the user interface to match screen dimensions
on tablets and mobile phones so it’s easy to work anywhere, on any device.
“If you forget to set up your out of office greeting, you can easily activate it on the road,” says Harris. “And we get a lot more suggested action items, such as making meeting requests, or searching for locations using Bing Maps. Outlook Web App also works
offline, which is amazing. Google is still struggling with how to get its offline experience right.”
And with SkyDrive Pro, Aisle7 employees always have access to the latest versions of their files, which are automatically synced to SharePoint libraries, to edit and collaborate on documents on the go.
Increased Networking Builds Community
Aisle7 employees will be using the social features within SharePoint Online as a social platform for the company. “We’ll be setting up newsfeeds to share what people are doing, both on team sites and globally, kind of like a private Facebook,” says
Harris. “We are excited about using this feature because we all work in different places. It will create a whole new dimension for the company.”
Better IT Support Saves Time
Harris is using the desktop sharing functionality in Lync Online to expedite remote support for his colleagues. “I ask people to share their screen and seconds later I’ve taken control of their computer to solve their problem. I’ve expedited issue
resolution by approximately 25 percent. Just one more example of how Office 365 is a great tool for the workplace!”
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