Today’s Microsoft Office post was written by Phillip R. Kennedy, director of Information Technology at Pandora, a global jewelry manufacturer and retailer.
At Pandora, our goal is to design and sell signature jewelry that delights the women who wear it. Our pieces are sold in more than 9,500 stores in over 90 countries; sometimes our end customers shop at our corporate-owned stores or franchises, while others seek out Pandora jewelry at other retailers. As a company, Pandora is growing—by leaps and bounds, which is a testament to the beauty and quality of the products we make. To smooth the way, we’ve taken a fresh look at how we operate. It isn’t enough anymore for our different offices to use whatever supplies, processes and technologies they have at hand. Instead, we need to grow as a single cohesive organization, putting the right support in place for our workforce so that employees worldwide stay efficient and effective in their daily work lives.
Our efforts to help employees design and market our jewelry include providing the latest technology solutions companywide. We’re using some of our new solutions to help us make sweeping changes to the way we interact with our franchisees and to transform the shopping experience for our customers. Other technology upgrades are all about incremental efficiencies.
We adopted Microsoft Office 365 a while back and find ourselves constantly benefitting from the continuing innovations that Microsoft adds. For example, we recently gave Microsoft Office 2016 a try so we could take advantage of lots of time-savers. Our geographically dispersed employees have already become enthusiastic users of the new Office Groups features, which give them an easy, organized way to share conversations, calendars and notebooks. Office Groups are easy for anyone to create, and they’re particularly effective when used in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook, because everything related to a team project shows up right within Outlook, which is where I spend most of my day.
It’s even more powerful when we add in Microsoft OneNote, which may be the best app ever developed. Having a single place to put anything you think of (notes, images, jewelry design sketches, production schedules, logistical information), making it searchable, and being able to access it from any device and share access with others is pretty amazing. In fact, one of our executives used to be a strictly paper guy. He had special notebooks that he carried around everywhere. When we showed him OneNote, he immediately switched over completely, and now he uses it for everything, making his notes available to the executive team, who comment on them electronically.
It’s not just our executives who’re making faster decisions and moving the company forward. Pandora employees everywhere now use Skype for Business for instant messaging, telephony, presence and video calls. Our ability to interact visually during conference calls makes a huge difference to our communication—it’s important to be able to see facial expressions and reactions so we know if we’re connecting and understanding one another, which is especially critical because it helps bring together our teams around the world. We share desktops during these calls, which improves the teamwork because we can share our work, whether it’s a design for a new bracelet, a marketing campaign or an IT schematic. Plus, we’re saving on long-distance costs and reducing travel expenses. I’m convinced that we wouldn’t be as successful operating as a unified global company if our distributed teams couldn’t collaborate using capabilities like Office Groups and Skype for Business Online.
Employees use simplified sharing features to help keep track of document versions and work faster. For example, when I want to send out a document for review, I use cloud-based attachments, which means that my colleagues receive a link to the document in Microsoft OneDrive for Business. They don’t have copies of project plans or spreadsheets cluttering up their Inboxes. And when they click on the link, it takes them to the latest version of my document, so I can keep modifying the document even after I send the email.
I also appreciate the cross-platform functionality, touch capabilities and digital ink, because I can stay productive even when I don’t have a mouse and keyboard. I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a MacBook Pro and an iPad. Office 2016 provides a seamless experience as I edit, save and share documents on any device.
We’re getting so much value from Office 365 and the new Office 2016 suite, but I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do for us. Already, we’re connecting teams, streamlining processes for increased productivity, and working more efficiently from everywhere across a range of devices. But I’m looking forward to exploring Sway for more polished reports and presentations and Outlook Clutter to help keep me focused and prioritize my email. With so many ways to save time and gain insight, we’re better able to keep pace with the demands of our growing business. That’s good news for jewelry lovers everywhere!
—Phillip R. Kennedy