Today’s post was written by Mike Early, senior managing director and head of information technology at Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Build-A-Bear Workshop has brought joy to families and kids since 1997. And with more than 170 million furry friends made over the last 20 years, we are experts at creating memorable experiences for our guests. That emphasis on the guest experience is at the core of our DNA. As we enter our next 20 years, we are excited about what our future has in store. With the now-iconic, multigenerational status of Build-A-Bear, we have a fresh opportunity to imagine new ways for kids and kids at heart to experience our unique world of wonder and stories by creating Build-A-Bear–inspired toys, fashions, entertainment, music, and games. Even as we evolve, the Build-A-Bear team will continue to focus on putting our hearts into everything we do, recognizing that a hug is understood in every language.
While the IT team doesn’t interact with our guests on a daily basis, doing everything we can to improve the guest and associate experience is a top priority. That’s why we are investing in cloud technologies like Microsoft 365, a complete, intelligent solution that empowers our associates to work more efficiently and spend more time providing great service to our guests. After our positive experience moving to the cloud with Office 365, we also deployed Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. As a global brand, we were looking for a solution that covers our complex business requirements, without adding significant overhead to the technology team. Dynamics 365 was the best option for us to replace our aging, on-premises ERP solution.
In addition to supporting our business requirements and reducing IT overhead, Microsoft 365 supports a digital workplace in a familiar environment that’s simple for us to maintain and allows our associates to work from anywhere. This frees everyone to be more productive wherever they may be.
Associates at our headquarters are enjoying collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, which provides a hub for creative teamwork in Office 365. Associates in marketing used to collaborate on global marketing plans using Google Docs, but now they use Teams to share and collaborate on these key documents. It’s more convenient and efficient for the team to refine their plans because they can simply open the file and work concurrently on edits within the Teams environment. They can also use the Teams app and Excel Online to collaborate using other devices when away from their desks.
From a technology management perspective, we are happy about the improved security control we gain over our corporate content, compared to storing files using other cloud solutions. That’s because we use Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to manage employees’ access to Teams. Implementing Azure AD was an early priority for us, so we enlisted the aid of Microsoft FastTrack. We had a great experience working with the FastTrack Team to expedite our migration to this cloud-based identity and access management solution.
In addition to Azure AD, we are looking to deploy other components of Enterprise Mobility + Security. Having the heft of Microsoft behind what we do is appealing from a security standpoint. We’re currently deploying Windows 10, and we are excited about the time savings we’ll enjoy with regular updates in the Windows as a Service model.
As we build business efficiencies and enhance customer experiences, Build-A-Bear is well-positioned to continue bringing smiles to the faces of kids and the young at heart.