Carlsberg continues to brew local favorites with global efficiency using Office 365

Today’s post was written by Anders Munck, enterprise architect for the Carlsberg Group.

Carlsberg continues to brew local favorites 1Carlsberg has a unique approach to building our business. When we acquire a new brewery—we’ve grown from four small markets in 2000 to a global beer brand with 80 breweries in 2015—we don’t just ask for conformity, we ask for a great local beer that reflects that region’s taste and culture. Our brewers keep true to their roots while producing a beer that anyone anywhere in the world would recognize as meeting the high quality of Carlsberg. This requires close collaboration and coordination across markets.

For IT, this was a challenge. As Carlsberg entered regional markets, we acquired disparate local IT infrastructures that could not communicate with each other, which meant colleagues joining the company from around the world couldn’t easily share knowledge and join the Carlsberg culture. In a business developing by leaps and bounds, our team needed to provide seamless worldwide communication and collaboration fast. We already had more than 40,000 employees, at least fifteen separate infrastructures and even more local user directories to consider, so the complexity of starting from scratch and building a new infrastructure and solution from the ground up would delay business benefits by at least five years. This delay would reduce our competitive position and growth potential, which was unacceptable to us. The challenge was therefore to find a way around this problem, quickly and cost-effectively.

So our decision in IT was to avoid building any new infrastructure at all and move everyone to Microsoft Office 365. Our experience with Office 365 proves that an enterprise-grade business cloud solution means you do not have to start from the ground up to achieve an agile, connected organization. Today, all our employees use the same cloud productivity services to erase the geographical barriers to effective teamwork across the company. We are seeing interactive video conferences that promote teamwork within the marketing department. Our brewers are sharing recipes on SharePoint Online to produce consistently good beer across the globe. Our sales reps are more productive, accessing and sharing files on their iPads from SharePoint Online to improve customer service. My IT team uses SharePoint Online to share implementation designs and meeting minutes. And we accomplished all this while avoiding upwards of €2 million in infrastructure costs and years of delay.

Microsoft Services consultants helped us in several ways. First, we were able to mix cloud and on-premises accounts, which meant we could roll out the first market a few weeks after signing the contract and still get the benefit of a fully integrated solution. Second, we were able to deploy Office 365 as a single, global IT solution across the company, even though Carlsberg is composed of approximately 30 separate local IT organizations. We also benefited from an engagement with the Microsoft FastTrack Center to help with OneDrive adoption training.

Along the way, we learned several important lessons. First, establish common user management and support services that focus on employees. We used local service desks and integrated global processes behind the scenes to give people a seamless experience. Second, build a strong global team to support local IT, drive governance and deliver a standardized Office 365 service across markets. And third, focus on establishing firm protocols around change management, incident management and service ownership to handle incidents and the day-to-day changes in the service.

To help with change management and adoption, we created corporate Office 365 training materials with a consistent approach to using the services that discouraged customization and kept complexity to a minimum. As a design principle, we use the default settings in Office 365 for at least six months. After that, any time we make a change, it’s either a global change or a legal requirement. For incident management, the local service desks and IT departments escalate any Office 365 issue to a central team in Western Europe. For service ownership, I make the overarching policy decisions, which are then managed on a day-to-day basis by two global administrators, who in turn manage our outsourced global operations team supporting the local IT shops.

With a relatively small amount of work from our IT organization, we delivered a new service to the business that is transforming how people at Carlsberg collaborate across the globe. Our top executives connect from St. Petersburg, Hong Kong and Switzerland using Skype for Business Online, and our business departments are brainstorming and collaborating using interactive video meetings with hundreds of people participating to bring products to market faster. We never thought we could come so far so quickly, but thanks to Office 365, we are improving individual productivity, virtual teamwork and business efficiencies to stay ahead in the global market.

To find out how Carlsberg is using Office 365, read the complete Carlsberg story.