4-page Case Study - Posted 5/13/2014
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Apeejay Surrendra Group

Empowered with the Latest Collaboration Tools, Remote Employees Go Mainstream

A hotel to shipping conglomerate, Apeejay Surrendra Group, was staring at a technology refresh. Traditional telephony and an archaic Lotus Notes email solution were slowing down the communication. Connecting with remote employees on plantations or at sea was its biggest concern. The refresh led to more collaboration and better access via voice, video and web conferencing along with email — on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Lync Server 2010. As a result, employees at remote locations now feel more connected, using Lync for web conferences via desktops, mobiles or on a dongle. Tea estate employees can join conference calls for the first time. As employees work in tandem, the company marches towards lower costs, better information flow and successful collaboration.

* Lync and Exchange have been a phenomenal success. Our perspective on communication has undergone a sea change. *

Ashoke Ghosh


Established in 1910, the Apeejay Surrendra Group (APJSG) is a truly traditional, family owned conglomerate in India. Its business interests range from retail to shipping, tea plantations to hospitality and ventures in logistics, real estate, FMCG and technology. Growth has been its forte. In fact, it recently acquired a 100-year-old iconic British brand in tea – Typhoo.

In today’s age, communication is a secret ingredient for success in any business. However, the geographical spread and remote locations of APJSG’s various interests made it difficult to build and manage its IT infrastructure. With rapid expansion into diverse businesses such as marine clusters, logistics and knowledge parks, the conglomerate started to look at updating its aging technology.

Apeejay had deployed a very old version of IBM Lotus Notes years ago, which had reached the end of its lifecycle with negligible product support. Though the team used it for emailing, it was not very effective. For example, it did not work on its fleet of bulk carriers. Says Captain SS Mahapatra, Chief Executive Officer, Apeejay Shipping, “We depend heavily on expensive satellite phones for critical decisions. These include inventory required, and quick replenishments when a ship nears a port; or for assignments, etc. This exponentially increases the communication costs.”

Similarly, connecting with site and general managers at its 17 tea estates was difficult due to the poor telecom infrastructure in these areas. In addition, its retail bookstore chain, Oxford Bookstores, needed to update stock information and reorder popular titles but email didn’t help much here either.


Apeejay Group had the choice to either upgrade the existing system or migrate to the latest messaging technologies. Subhashis Saha, Chief Technology Officer at Apeejay Surrendra Group says, “We found Microsoft Exchange to be a cost effective and feature-rich email solution which would deploy quickly and ensure easy migration across the organization.”

Additionally, he chose Microsoft Lync as a collaboration tool to connect users across devices and check their presence online for instant messaging and voice and video services via a corporate IT environment. Subhashis explains, “Microsoft Lync was the obvious choice because of the interoperation between Lync and Exchange Server. Moreover, it facilitates the use of other existing Microsoft infrastructure. “

* The search feature in Outlook is of profound importance. It facilitates the quick search for information from the sea of emails, thus saving time. And e-filing eliminates the need for hard copies and physical storage, as the information is always available at the click of the button. *

Captain SS Mahapatra
Chief Executive Officer, Apeejay Shipping Ltd

The Implementation

Apeejay approached Microsoft Certified Partner, Embee, based on its technical expertise and hands-on experience in deploying solutions in similar scenarios and consistent Microsoft support.

In November 2012, it deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010 across the organization. The deployment took 30 days. It migrated 500 users on to the new email solution without disruption, providing the latest capabilities to help them communicate more effectively and quickly.

Employees rapidly integrated Lync functionality such as presence and can now click-to-call from an email message into their business processes and use it extensively. It has become useful for communication between the tea gardens and head office. In fact, employees Typhoo in London use it regularly now.

Employees at the tea estates also use Lync for audio conferencing to maximize coverage and network capacity without interference. Weekly reviews, knowledge sharing sessions between the tea gardens and head office happen quite regularly.

Simultaneously, the organization upgraded to Microsoft Office 2010. Integration with Microsoft Office allows users to initiate an audio/video call, a desktop sharing session, to schedule a conference, or send instant messages while viewing the picture of the persons with whom they want to communicate.

Usage has been extended to multiple mobile devices and has seen security certificates installed in each, through which encrypted transmissions ensure data security. Apeejay has also configured Rights Management Server (RMS) to protect digital files by setting restrictions to view, edit or print.

Administration is easy, as a single person with shared responsibilities monitors and controls the usage, remote wipe-off, etc. Since the organization already has Disaster Recovery set-up and virtualized servers, it is effectively using the existing set- up without additional investments on physical servers.

Looking into the Future

Apeejay is in the process of upgrading to Microsoft Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013. It is also migrating to Active Directory 2012 from 2008. The organization’s roadmap includes deployment of System Center to manage and administer servers and computers centrally that will raise an alert for any potential problems, thus preventing outages.


“Lync and Exchange have been a phenomenal success,” states Ashoke Ghosh, Director, Corporate Finance, Apeejay Surrendra Group. “Our perspective on communication has undergone a sea change. “

Makes Remote Employees Mainstream

At a diverse business entity like the Apeejay Group, the management frequently needs to connect with team leaders at remote locations and with business heads across offices. Voice and video enabled conferencing using Lync has made such communication simpler and cheaper. “I am extremely happy that I can have a meeting from my desktop. I connect with the general managers in the tea gardens, and hold weekly reviews with tea estates and my counterparts in London. This was not possible earlier,” states Ashoke. “Now I cannot imagine a day at work without Lync.”

Users have been empowered to establish direct calls to their colleagues. Finance team at the head office regularly connects with other branch offices for seamless functioning.

* I am extremely happy that I can have a meeting from my desktop. I connect with the general managers in the tea gardens, and hold weekly reviews with tea estates and my counterparts in London. This was not possible earlier *

Ashoke Ghosh
Finance Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group

Reduces Costs at Every Step

Microsoft enterprise voice has reduced operating expenses largely by giving up the costly fixed line voice and PABX systems and by reducing reliance on telephonic voice systems for internal communication. “With the number of calls coming down drastically, we have observed a significant reduction in calling costs,” says Subhasish.

Moreover, there is a savings on the implementation cost. “Had we upgraded our existing solution, we would have invested in client and server licenses. In all, we have saved approximately INR 25 lakhs (U.S. $45,000) by deploying the Microsoft communication technologies,” comments Subhashis.

The earlier solution required third-party support for administration and management. With Exchange, just one person with shared responsibilities administers, manages and controls usage, thus saving on external support.

Joy Bagish, Deputy General Manager-IT, Apeejay Management Services Ltd. “Exchange and Lync have been a phenomenal success for us as within 12 months we have recovered our investment.”

Improves Productivity and Efficiency

The close integration between Microsoft Lync, Exchange Server and Office has also opened new ways to collaborate and improved efficiency. For example, Oxford Book Stores have become more productive using Lync. For store managers, it is now easy to connect to the head office for immediate decision making and promotions to institutional customers, etc.

At remote plantation estates, the regular communication between the Managing Director and general managers has resulted in timely reviews and decision making for field initiatives. This has resulted in an increase in productivity.

Employees find the presence indicator, an excellent feature to check other people availability. “The search feature in Outlook is of profound importance. It facilitates the quick search for information from the sea of emails, thus saving time,” says Captain Mahapatra “And e-filing eliminates the need for hard copies and physical storage, as the information is always available at the click of the button.”

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 enables you to increase user productivity and keep your organization safe, while staying in control of your environment, both online and on-premises. With Exchange Server 2013, you can help your users manage increasing volumes of email and work together more effectively as teams, while protecting business communications and sensitive information as you meet internal and regulatory compliance requirements.

For more information about Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, go to:www.microsoft.com/exchange

About Embee

Embee Software Pvt. Ltd. is a leading end-to-end IT consulting and solution providers in the country. Headquartered in Kolkata, it has six branches across the country with 250 employees. It offers the entire range of IT that delivers end-to-end solutions that can manage and support customers' IT systems across the entire value chain. It is one of the trusted Systems Integrator (SI) with an ISO 9001:2008 certification.

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:


For more information about Embee products and services, call (91) (33) 22891741 or visit the website at: www.embee.co.in

For more information about Apeejay Surrendra Group products and services, call 91) (33) 4403 5455 or visit the website at: www.apeejaygroup.com

Document published May 2014
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 43000 employees

Organization Profile

A diversified industrial conglomerate, Apeejay Surrendra Group is a leading privately owned family business in India. Headquartered in Kolkata it has interests in tea, hospitality, real estate and shipping. 

Business Situation

Obsolete technology, poor technical support and high communication costs led the organization to search for an efficient yet cost-effective communication solution.


Microsoft Exchange 2010 and Lync 2010, a feature-rich email service with modern day communication functionalities. The new messaging and collaboration tools help employees to boost productivity at reduced costs.


  • Reduces costs at every step
  • Eases communication
  • Improves productivity and efficiency
  • Ensures high availability

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010

Vertical Industries
Other Services



Embee Software Pvt. Ltd