World-class manufacturer of lifting equipment, Konecranes needed a global unified communication and collaboration solution for its 8,000 employees, many of whom work in remote locations. The opportunity arose to replace its diverse collaboration technologies with a standardised hosted solution using the Software-as-a-Service model to ease cashflow. Avanade, a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, recommended Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite as a cloud service. The company forecasts it will significantly reduce its internal travel expenditure by 2012, with further efficiency gains from outsourcing IT support. Every employee is already using the same collaboration tools, which supports the vision of a single global company. The system is flexible and scalable, and will easily accommodate new customers, partners, suppliers, and future acquisitions.Situation
Konecranes is an industry-leading group of manufacturers specialising in equipment for the lifting business, serving diverse industries across the world. The company is based in Finland and is operating in dozens of countries and hundreds of different locations. These include remote places with limited infrastructure, such as nuclear installation sites, harbours, and shipyards.
Having expanded during the past 10 years, largely by acquisition, Konecranes needed a global unified communications solution to improve productivity, reduce operating costs, and cut the heavy burden of internal travel. With global market conditions unsettled, the cost reduction element of the strategy was of critical importance from the outset.
Miiko Kytöharju, Product Manager, Communications, Konecranes, says: “Reducing internal travel costs was a priority. With a standardised conferencing solution, for example, we could avoid having to send an engineer from Finland to China for a one-day meeting.”
Konecranes was using a variety of communication and collaboration technologies across the company, including Novell GroupWise and previous versions of Microsoft Exchange Server. Kytöharju says: “Konecranes was already standardising on a single Windows XP operating system and was using the same hardware. It seemed the right choice to look for a hosted unified communications toolset.”
The company decided from the start to consider choosing an appropriate partner to advise on providing unified communications as a cloud computing service to its 8,000 employees. The advantages included reducing the need for expensive IT expertise in-house, having a hosting partner take responsibility for disaster recovery, and introducing a pay-for-use financial model.
Kytöharju says: “We specified a system that could be easily extended to customers, partners, suppliers, and future acquisitions—and which could improve collaboration across groups of employees.”Solution
Konecranes turned to Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Avanade—a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft—for help with a business case. By using the Avanade Business Benefits Calculator and Estimating Model, the two companies agreed that the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite cloud service was the best solution.
Out of the current offering, Konecranes utilises Exchange Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online. The Software-as-a-Service package from Microsoft also includes SharePoint Online, although Konecranes does not currently use it.
Using its outsourced operation in the Philippines, Avanade managed the migration of data from the Novell GroupWise e-mail and calendar collaboration solution, and 1,500 existing Exchange Server mailboxes. In the initial phase of the project, completed in the first quarter of 2010, it added functions such as instant messaging, conferencing, presence awareness, and project workspaces—initially for all 8,000 employees. Konecranes is also acquiring 1,000 extra licences for employees of third-party vendors working in its offices worldwide.
Jani Hautala, Senior Business Development Executive, Avanade, Finland, says: “Avanade is one of the few organisations that can successfully help enterprise customers through the entire transition to online services, with expertise in infrastructure, directory design, messaging, and content migration—as well as software customisation and solution integration.”
In the second phase of the unified communications project, Konecranes will integrate Business Productivity Online Standard Suite with its other line-of-business applications. They include a videoconferencing solution, with Voice over IP telephony to allow calls to be made over the Web. Hautala says: “Microsoft maintains the service with all the latest technology and security updates to avoid customers having to manage and bear the associated costs of upgrades.”Benefits
Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite offers a range of up-to-date messaging and collaboration tools using a flexible Software-as-a Service approach. Users across the world—from remote sites in South America and China, to offices in Europe and North America—all enjoy access to the solution. With cost reduction a major focus, the estimated savings are especially important. “By 2012, Konecranes estimates that the Business Productivity Online Standard Suite will significantly reduce staff travel costs compared to 2009,” says Kytöharju.
Travel Costs Significantly Reduced with Scope for More Savings
Because Konecranes staff no longer have to spend company time flying to remote locations, travel costs are set to fall significantly over the next three years. But the company is also expecting other financial benefits. Kytöharju says: “There is no need to retain expensive Microsoft-skilled employees in-house. The IT team can concentrate on more strategic objectives. With 99.9 per cent uptime from the cloud service, the work associated with incident management has been removed.”
Predictable and Easy Payment Model Aids Cash Flow
Microsoft Online Services offers its customers Business Productivity Online Standard Suite at a predictable cost supported by a monthly billing model, giving clients a range of ways to pay for messaging and collaboration services. Kytöharju says: “This is a lot easier to manage than the previous diverse licensing arrangements for the different messaging software within the company. We can also easily scale up or indeed reduce the number of work stations required in response to cyclical changes in the market.”
User-Friendly Interfaces Speed Adoption by Employees
The familiar look and feel of Microsoft Office technology has speeded up the adoption of the new online suite. Kytöharju says: “Our staff who were using Novell GroupWise in Finland can now communicate with colleagues using Microsoft tools, making collaboration quicker and more effective. Plus, staff in remote locations—in places such as Iran or Venezuela—now enjoy the same easy access to communication as employees in developed countries.”
Unified Communication Fosters Vision of One Global Company
Konecranes has a mission to set a benchmark for global excellence in business management. With several different communication and collaboration solutions in use throughout the company, it was in danger of failing to meet the challenges of a changing market. Kytöharju says: “Everyone now uses the same products, which are on the same platform. They’re providing a springboard to propel the business forward and foster the vision of one global company.”
Partner Expertise Aids Transition to Cloud Computing
With its vast experience in designing Software-as-a-Service solutions for large global enterprises, Avanade was ideally placed to help Konecranes explore the advantages of moving IT services to the cloud.
Hautala says: “Hosted solutions for e-mail messaging, Web portals, and online communications offer an attractive and great value option for reducing the costs of collaboration. Konecranes is confident that the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite will grow with the business, without the need for ongoing investment in IT infrastructure.”Microsoft Office System
The Microsoft Office system is the business world’s chosen environment for information work, providing the programs, servers, and services that help you succeed by transforming information into impact.
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