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Posted: 4/24/2014
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ISS Group Facility Services Provider Transforms Workflow and Deploys New Servers in Minutes on Microsoft Cloud

ISS Netherlands, a leading provider of facility services, wanted to become more competitive by automating manual processes. To improve efficiency, the company designed an application that runs in the cloud on the Microsoft Azure platform and collects data from thousands of sensors. The solution automatically sends alerts to employees’ mobile devices and shares data with a customer-facing portal based on SharePoint Online in Microsoft Office 365. As a result, the company can deliver more targeted services and penetrate new markets with a flexible and highly scalable solution, and has cut deployment time from two weeks to 30 minutes.


Business Needs

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and with worldwide operations, ISS Group provides facility services including cleaning, security, and building management. To stay competitive, its ISS Netherlands division looked for new ways to automate manual processes and improve efficiency.

ISS Netherlands serves customers of all sizes in multiple industries, ranging from small firms with several office buildings to major corporations with large factories. Fulfilling contract requirements, whether for pest control or cleaning, required many visits to manually check traps or ensure that rooms were clean and well stocked. The company wanted an easier way to monitor facilities and coordinate workflow.

ISS Netherlands decided to design a more automated, intelligent service. It created sensors that would monitor virtually anything, including restroom doors, soap dispensers, mousetraps—even potted plants. Then the company developed an application that would collect the information and send an alert to the closest employees’ mobile device.

The problem was that in order to implement its innovative solution, ISS Netherlands needed a highly scalable and flexible infrastructure capable of handling the influx of data from thousands of sensors. However, the company outsourced most of its IT functions and was reluctant to build out its on-premises infrastructure. “Every time you create a new server or database, you have to purchase software licenses and hardware,” says Martijn Jansen, Business Technology Manager at ISS Netherlands. “In this case, we were designing a new idea, and we weren’t sure if it would work. So we needed flexible infrastructure that we could scale up or down quickly without a lot of investment.”

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* Even if we outsourced to our managed services provider, the company would still need to … spend two weeks on installation and testing. Now, if I want to start a new project, I can deploy new servers on Microsoft Azure in less than 30 minutes.  *

Martijn Jansen
Business Technology Manager
ISS Netherlands

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Solution

ISS Netherlands considered several options, including Google Web Services, before choosing the Microsoft Azure platform. The company was already using Microsoft Office 365 for email and liked the ease of use and management, particularly on mobile devices. So, in November 2012, the company decided to deploy its application on Microsoft Azure with Azure SQL Database services. ISS Netherlands wanted to take advantage of the high levels of availability and scalability the platform would provide, as well as easy integration with disparate data sources.

The solution also includes Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services, which the company uses to integrate disparate software and data sources such as building automation systems and sensors. ISS Netherlands deploys a separate cloud database for each customer, and it sets up business rules so that an alert is automatically triggered when a threshold is reached. For example, the system can detect how often a restroom has been used and when it requires cleaning, or that a trap has been activated. The application also takes advantage of the GPS technology built into mobile phones, and it routes an alert to the closest employee.

In addition, the application shares information through customer-facing portals created with SharePoint Online, which is part of Office 365. Information pulled from mobile devices and the online database is displayed in the portals on maps created with Microsoft Visio 2013 flowchart software. As a result, customers can see at a glance which areas have been cleaned or whether there is a spill that needs attention in a specific location. The solution is easily adapted to customers in diverse industries, including healthcare, business services and IT, industry and manufacturing, and public administration.

Benefits

With the Microsoft Azure platform, ISS Netherlands can increase its competitive advantage with more efficient operations, better flexibility, and faster time-to-market.

More Efficient and Competitive Operations

ISS Netherlands has significantly improved workflow and customer service with a cloud application, which garners the company multiple benefits. By automating monitoring processes and data collection, the company can provide more targeted services. “I can accomplish several things with Microsoft Azure,” explains Jansen. “I can reduce labor costs because we don’t need to manually verify that every bathroom has been cleaned. At the same time, I can improve our quality of service by identifying which areas get higher traffic and adjusting our workflow accordingly. All of this helps us be more competitive.”

Better Flexibility and More Room for Growth

The solution is both flexible and highly scalable. For example, ISS Netherlands is currently testing its new service in a hospital so that staff can quickly see whether a bed needs cleaning. And in another scenario, a possible contract will require ISS Netherland to collect data from approximately 7,000 sensors in one building. “We’re quite confident about taking on new business,” says Jansen. “With the Microsoft Azure platform, we can easily create new services or integrate more sensors and external data sources. We just bring a couple of new databases online and get to work.”

The solution is empowering ISS Netherlands to expand into new markets. “Each industry has different requirements—such as safety rules—that need to be met,” says Jansen. “It’s quite easy to be flexible with our current setup on Microsoft Azure.”

Faster Time-to-Market

The company has also significantly cut both deployment time and costs. “Two of the biggest advantages of deploying Microsoft Azure are faster time-to-market and lower costs,” says Jansen. “Even if we outsourced to our managed services provider, the company would still need to purchase new server hardware and licenses, and then would have to spend two weeks on installation and testing. Now, if I want to start a new project, I can deploy new servers on Microsoft Azure in less than 30 minutes.”

This case study is for informational purposes only.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 530000 employees

Organization Profile

Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, ISS Group is a leading provider of facility services with 530,000 employees and operations in more than 50 countries.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Azure Platform
  • Microsoft Visio 2013
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • SharePoint Online
  • Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services
  • Microsoft Azure SQL Database

Vertical Industries
Other Services

Country/Region
Denmark

Business Need
Cloud & Server Platform

IT Issue
Cloud Services

Languages
English

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