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Posted: 1/3/2014
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Standard Life Financial Firm Supports Employees in Digital Workplace with Productivity Solutions

The technologies used at United Kingdom (UK) financial organisation Standard Life weren’t effectively supporting its Digital Workplace transformation programme, which encourages better company-wide communication. The firm deployed Microsoft information worker productivity technologies, including Microsoft Lync 2010, to promote collaboration across borders and time zones, enhancing customer service and helping staff bring new products to market quickly.

Business Needs

Standard Life is one of the UK’s leading providers of savings, pensions, and investment products. While 6,500 of its employees work in the UK, a further 2,500 are based in locations around the world. In recent years, the organisation has explored new global business models that provide a consolidated working environment for employees, regardless of their location.

The Digital Workplace strategy is central to this. It’s a long-term plan for IT that promotes an always-connected working environment and breaks down the traditional barriers of communication. Sandy Begbie, Group Operations Officer, Standard Life, says: “We wanted to enhance our services in other parts of the world such as Asia and North America. To do this, we needed an infrastructure that could support collaboration among employees no matter where they’re based and accelerate business growth.”

Over the years, Standard Life deployed a variety of systems. They included IBM Notes email software, which didn’t integrate with its Microsoft Office applications or other existing systems. These disparate solutions were expensive and inefficient to manage and upgrade. And, while individual deployments resolved issues for some departments, they rarely accommodated all areas of the business. In addition, Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulations around data security require banks to invest in up-to-date, supported technologies. Begbie says: “We wanted to explore options that suited the whole organisation and encouraged better communication company-wide. Planning for the future is critical, so it was important that we could build a framework to encourage innovative ways of working, such as cloud computing.”

The firm aimed to increase the productivity of its employees while keeping costs down. Begbie says: “With better tools to connect people across time zones, we hoped to promote more creative thinking that would inspire new business and help employees deliver better support to customers.”


After evaluating various products on the market, Standard Life decided to deploy a Microsoft technology suite designed to enhance information worker productivity. Paul Chong, Group IT and Commercial Director, Standard Life, says: “Microsoft is the best fit for us. It offers industry-standard solutions and familiar tools, which will enhance the way we interact with our colleagues and customers. The Microsoft roadmap also has a strong connection with the cloud, which aligns with our own IT strategy.”

The Accenture–Avanade Microsoft Alliance is working with Standard Life on its Digital Workplace transformation programme. This includes the migration of 8,000 employees from IBM solutions to Microsoft technologies. In time, the company plans to integrate these with Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud through Windows Azure, but for now has deployed the Office 2010 suite of applications, supported by the Windows 7 operating system.

“While some deployments are still in their early stages, Standard Life employees are already exploring new ways of working,” says Chong. For example, tools within Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 help multiple teams review and edit documents without risk of duplication, and encourage collaboration through discussion boards. Meanwhile, users can create surveys to collate feedback that will help improve business processes.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 replaces IBM Notes to offer users secure management of email messaging, calendar, and contacts across various devices. Global teams can now work together effectively with Microsoft Lync 2010 communications software. It integrates with the organisation’s telephone system and gives users control of communications from their computers, offering clear Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls and video conferencing. It synchronises contact lists and status updates with Microsoft Outlook 2010 so employees can initiate instant messages, calls, and email messages. When the organisation rolls out Windows 7, employees will also be able to access Lync 2010 features from the taskbar.


To win and retain customers, financial organisations are under increasing pressure to boost the number of services they offer and bring them to market fast. “For the first time, Standard Life has a global solution that means we can devise innovative new products and release them quickly,” says Chong. “Microsoft technologies support our Digital Workplace strategy, helping us improve our services and meet customer needs.”

Collaborative working enhances customer service. Users can contact managers in any location or time zone to approve documents, leading to fewer delays in finalising projects. They can address customer queries immediately, helping to strengthen both customer loyalty and the reputation of the business.

Solution delivers dynamic user experience. Standard Life offers staff a dynamic, collaborative work environment that encourages employee retention. “Our workplace culture is changing. For example, meetings are regularly conducted online with multiple participants, and staff members are embracing new forms of communication,” says Chong.

Technologies comply with FSA standards. The organisation is confident that customer data is safe and supported into the future.

Unified solution saves time. A consolidated Microsoft infrastructure has created a seamless operation that helps users save time. “The IT team is more productive, with centralised management of one system and fewer maintenance issues. We also expect Windows 7 to reduce user logon times from around 10 minutes to less than 60 seconds,” says Chong.

Streamlined operations cut costs. Standard Life has reduced the licensing and administrative costs of multiple vendor solutions, as well as the on-premises storage needed to support them. The global standardisation of collaborative technologies also promotes business growth while reducing the need to travel. Begbie says: “Our digital workplace, supported by Microsoft technologies, will help us build a globally recognised organisation that’s serious about its international intentions.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Profile

Standard Life is a savings and investments company with a range of savings, pensions, and investment products. It has around 4 million customers in the United Kingdom and 1.5 million shareholders worldwide.

Software and Services
Microsoft Office 365

Vertical Industries

United Kingdom