As part of an ongoing effort to support its mobile workers and to keep up with the latest technologies, the Century Council deployed Windows 8 Pro to run on tablets and desktop PCs. Soon, the operating system will be deployed organizationwide,
but the council is already seeing increased productivity from employees who can easily connect to office computers from tablets. Some projects have been trimmed from hours to minutes.
The Century Council is an independent National Advisory Board composed of distinguished leaders in education, medicine, government, and business who work with law enforcement, public officials, educators, parents, and students to raise awareness of the
dangers of alcohol abuse.
The organization relies on technology to help its small staff operate more efficiently, both internally and out in the field. The council’s mission involves outreach at numerous remote public events, especially at schools, where mobile devices and remote
connectivity capabilities are essential. The council sought a simple, reliable way for employees to connect to and work from computers on its corporate network, but devices such as Apple iPad hadn’t been able to easily provide it.
Employees use a variety of devices that have to be supported: Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry. “We have a young workforce, which is used to mobility and staying connected,” explains Ralph Blackman, President and Chief Executive Office
of the Century Council. “We needed to support these employees and also to adopt technologies that are being used or will soon be used by our young target audience so that we can better understand how they communicate.” He adds that the Century Council continually
strives to keep up with the latest technology trends and wanted to adopt an operating system that would best support his staff in outreach activities.
In early 2012, the Century Council began using a prerelease version of the Windows 8 Pro operating system, running it on two tablets and two desktop PCs. Technical advice and support was provided by New Signature, a Microsoft Partner Network member.
“We knew the Century Council was ideally suited for Windows 8 Pro,” says Sean Feeney, IT Consultant at New Signature. “The combination of usability, performance, strong security, and the ability to access office PCs remotely through the Remote Desktop feature
made it a perfect fit for their organization.”
||Windows 8 is helping our employees be more productive, which means we can do more internally and save time, effort, and money by not having to hire a contractor to do the work.
| Senta Boardley
Director, Operations and Executive Assistant, The Century Council
Features that were particularly appealing to the council were those that will help save time—picture passwords (signing in without typing) for quick logon, quick swiping to rapidly switch between applications, fast search for files and applications, and, most
important, the quick startup time and performance of Windows 8 Pro.
Additionally, Blackman says that upgrading supports his goal to reach a young demographic: “We stay on top of the kind of technology that younger people use so that we have a better sense of how to reach them in our campaigns. Since Windows 8 and tablets are
only going to become more common, it made sense for us to upgrade now.”
Windows 8 also interoperates well within the organization’s existing IT environment, which includes using the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, Microsoft Office Professional 2010, and Microsoft SkyDrive for cloud-based file storage and sharing.
Soon, the council will deploy Windows 8 Pro across the organization, and it plans to expand its use of cloud services by migrating to Microsoft Office 365, a collection of cloud-based email, calendaring, collaboration, conferencing, and productivity services.
By adopting Windows 8, the Century Council gains the following benefits:
Better support for mobile and remote workers.
Because Windows 8 Pro was designed with remote workers in mind, Senta Boardley, Director, Operations and Executive Assistant at the Century Council, is finding that she can work more effectively
than ever before from home and during her travels. “For example, with the Remote Desktop functionality, I can use my tablet to look at exactly what I was working on at my office computer, edit it, and see it properly formatted, which is especially important
for Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. You just can’t do that with an iPad.”
Blackman adds, “When I travel with an iPad, I can easily get email, watch a movie, or read a book, but in the end, I can’t actually do my work using line-of-business applications. With Windows 8, I can.”
Faster performance, positive user experience across devices.
Boardley and Blackman have been impressed with the performance of Windows 8 Pro—its startup time is 75 percent faster than the previous operating system—resulting in a great user
experience. “When I turn on Windows 8 Pro, it’s almost instantly there and ready to use,” says Blackman. “I save two or three minutes every time I resume working.”
“Windows 8 Pro gets you where you want to go, fast,” agrees Boardley. “Speed is important when you’re in a hurry, so the performance is a big benefit.”
And Boardley notes that the continuity of user experience across Windows 8 devices has made learning the software easier. “I’ve used Windows 8 Pro more often on the tablet than on my desktop PC, but I didn’t find anything difficult about moving between the
two—it’s the same experience on both.”
Higher employee productivity, faster completion of projects.
Although the council hasn’t yet compiled productivity data, evidence already points to significant employee productivity improvements. Boardley estimates that some after-hours projects
that used to take her four to five hours now take only about 45 minutes. She also explains that improved productivity is especially important as the organization tries to minimize costs by keeping as much work as possible in-house versus using outside vendors.
“We have only 18 people, but we have a lot of work to do. Windows 8 Pro will be an important part of increasing our internal work capacity.”
Boardley notes that Windows 8 Pro won’t just benefit one or two staff members, but the entire organization. “We work closely together here, and collaboration is important. By making it easier for us to stay connected, we see Windows 8 Pro raising our productivity
as a whole team.”
Finally, she concludes, “Many issues can occur after 5:30 p.m. and with Windows 8, I can now handle them faster and with less worry. I’ve really enjoyed my experience with Windows 8 and the tablet. Even my kids think Windows 8 is cool.”
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