REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 6, 2013 — BNSF Railway Co., one of the oldest and largest freight railroad networks in North America, has selected Microsoft Office 365 to enable over 40,000 workers to share ideas and information via computers, kiosks and personal devices. BNSF chose Microsoft Office 365 as part of its Railroad 2020 vision for modernizing the user productivity portfolio at BNSF. The company looked at other offerings, but employees at BNSF preferred the familiar Office experience and the company wanted to capitalize on what people know and already use. Office was also chosen because of its interoperability with critical line-of-business applications such as SharePoint, and because of its ability to enable greater collaboration across geographically dispersed workers. Employees had organically started using Yammer as a communication tool, so BNSF plans to roll out Yammer Enterprise, the leading provider of enterprise social networks, to support this collaboration trend throughout the company.
“Whether it’s in locomotives, detectors along the side of the track, geometry cars or our vast telecommunications infrastructure to support the railroad, we rely on technology to operate our railroad and ensure delivery of our customers’ freight,” said Jo-ann Olsovsky, vice president and chief information officer, BNSF. “Due to the nature of our business, the majority of our employees are outdoors in the field, so supporting their mobility with access to leading productivity and communications tools is critical to our success. By using tools such as Office 365 and Yammer Enterprise, we will be able to connect our employees to each other and the information they need to be successful.”
BNSF was seeking ways to improve efficiency in its delivery and support of email, calendaring and collaboration software while leveraging new functionality. BNSF began implementing Phase I of its Office 365 and Exchange Online deployment in October to more than 40,000 users and expects to have Lync, email and calendaring services fully deployed by early November. Subsequent phases will include deployment of other services such as SharePoint Online and Yammer Enterprise.
BNSF’s strategic technology road map, Railroad 2020, calls for modernizing the underlying technology infrastructure and improving communications across the organization and externally. Office 365 is a natural fit for Railroad 2020 by providing BNSF employees with the familiar Microsoft Office experience. Office 365 is an always up-to-date cloud service that supports today’s bring-your-own-device initiatives and offers mobile employees the flexibility they need.
Employees are already benefiting from the new communication and collaboration platform. The cloud allows employees to store folders and files for easy access from virtually any device, and the integrated communications capabilities provides employees with voice mail and message transcripts directly from their inboxes, enabling faster response times from the office or the field. Employees who are not issued PCs, such as train crews and field maintenance workers, are able to access email and storage offerings from shared computers or their own personal devices.
“As a railroad, we have so many systems that we have to write from scratch because you can’t always buy an off-the-shelf system to move to trains; we typically have to write rail-unique systems,” Olsovsky said. “I’d much rather our team focus on support and development of those mission-critical operational systems rather than on our messaging platform. If we have an expert — like we do in Microsoft — that can ensure highly available messaging and collaboration tools, it just makes it all the better and enables my team to focus on the operational systems.”
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