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Posted: 9/6/2013
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Nature & Découvertes French Retailer Switches from a Leading Cloud-Based Email Solution to Office 365

Staff at French retailer Nature & Découvertes experienced frustration working in a disparate email environment that included a leading cloud-based email solution. To make sending messages between its stores and central services more efficient and to move to an enterprise-level solution, the company deployed Microsoft Office 365 companywide. The implementation streamlined messaging, enhanced data security, and reduced costs.

Business Needs
Founded in 1990, Nature & Découvertes is devoted to helping urbanites connect to nature. It provides sustainable products and a program of nature activities for families. With main offices located in Toussus-le-Noble, France, it has 85 stores in France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxemburg.

The company had two components in its email environment: Microsoft Exchange Server with the Microsoft Outlook messaging client at headquarters and a leading cloud-based email solution in retail stores. The company found that the mix of technologies was inefficient, both technically and economically. Also, employees experienced a significant disconnect between the software available to them at headquarters and the tools on hand in retail stores. There was an appreciable difference between the experience of employees at headquarters, who had a full communication and collaboration solution, and those in the shops, who had only basic email.

The company wanted to unify its communications and improve work processes by providing an enterprise-level communication and collaboration solution for all employees.

Well aware of weaknesses in the company’s messaging system, Josselin Ollier, CIO of Nature & Découvertes, was determined to remedy the situation. He wanted to replace the leading cloud-based email solution.

* Switching from our previous cloud-based email solution and providing Office 365 for all our coworkers was the first step in moving toward a completely collaborative workplace. *

Josselin Ollier
CIO, Nature & Découvertes

Ollier decided to deploy a unified messaging solution in the company’s stores, headquarters, and warehouses. To control costs, he chose Microsoft Office 365, a subscription-based offering of Microsoft cloud services, which includes Microsoft Exchange Online for enterprise-grade email, SharePoint Online for collaboration, Lync Online for unified communications, and Office 365 ProPlus for familiar Office productivity tools.

To help with implementation, Microsoft recommended vNext, which managed the migration. vNext is a Microsoft Network Partner and Azure Accelerate Partner (Office 365 and Windows Azure) with Gold competencies.

In August 2012, vNext installed Office 365 using two different strategies. For the retail stores, the partner chose the Office 365 Kiosk plan, which provides on-the-go email access that is well-suited for occasional users. The more demanding users at headquarters can take full advantage of all the Office 365 business productivity and collaboration tools. Spread out over three and a half months, the smooth deployment was the result of a concerted effort by teams at both vNext and Nature & Découvertes.

After the initial deployment, vNext activated Lync Online for users at the company’s headquarters. Lync Online provides videoconferencing, which is undergoing advanced testing by a dozen pilot users. For now, it’s limited to direct conferencing between two people. “These first users are thrilled with this feature—it works really well. We will study deploying videoconferencing on a large scale companywide and will configure it to allow group conferencing,” explains Ollier.

The project will continue through the first half of 2013 with the further deployment of collaboration tools. The first phase provides all employees with access to a company intranet. The second phase will focus on collaboration, including file sharing.

When Nature & Découvertes switched from the previous cloud-based email solution to Microsoft Office 365, the company was able to achieve its goal of optimizing communications. “Switching from our previous cloud-based email solution and providing Office 365 for all our coworkers was the first step in moving toward a completely collaborative workplace,” says Ollier.

Efficient Messaging
Moving to Office 365 took care of integration issues among disparate messaging systems. Employees are happy with the new messaging solution and its ease of use. “We got up to speed very quickly because everyone was already familiar with Microsoft tools,” explains Ollier.

Both headquarters and retail store employees—for whom the changes were more extensive—are reporting very high satisfaction levels. In partnership with vNext, the training department at Nature & Découvertes deployed e-learning modules for Office 365, including training videos. For each wave of stores switching to Office 365, the modules were provided to employees a week in advance, which helped them prepare to work right away. After four months, “our service quality has improved and user feedback on the shared messaging platform is extremely positive," confirms Ollier.

Enhanced Security
Another plus for the company is strengthened security and confidentiality for messages and documents. The Microsoft contract states it will safeguard data and not use it for its own or external purposes, which meets CNIL (an independent French administrative authority on data privacy) technical and legal recommendations.

Unified messaging using the cloud federates the 1,200 company users, helping keep them connected and secure across 800 workstations. Thanks to integration using the Active Directory service, each user has a unique point of entry where the administrator can manage permissions. “Correspondence at Nature & Découvertes includes strategic conversations with attachments, which is why it’s important to have secure local message storage,” notes Ollier.

Reduced Costs
The company is seeing clear financial benefits by switching to Office 365. It expects to achieve a 50 percent savings on messaging costs.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1200 employees

Organization Profile

French retailer Nature & Découvertes is dedicated to reconnecting people to nature. It offers a range of sustainable products and a full program of nature activities and events for families.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Active Directory Directory Services
  • Exchange Online
  • Lync Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus

Vertical Industries
  • Consumer Goods
  • Health & Personal Care


Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Cost Containment

IT Issue
Cloud Services