Fruit of the Loom thrives in digital era with Microsoft 365 Enterprise
Fruit of the Loom, an iconic US garment manufacturer, stays true to its heritage of innovation and vision after 160 years in business. It uses Microsoft 365 Enterprise to help employees respond faster to customers’ preferences, thanks to a new workplace culture that is highly secure, mobile, and collaborative. Using data analysis services from Microsoft Azure, Fruit of the Loom gains business insight, strengthening retailer relationships to compete more effectively in today’s digital world.
What makes a Fruit of the Loom garment? It’s colorful. It stays tucked. It breathes. It’s a boxer or a brief. It turns kids into superheroes and keeps us warm and cool. Most of all, it’s what consumers want. That’s no small feat today, when customers expect to interact with their favorite brands in real time and shop the Internet faster than you can try on a new hoodie.
From power loom to the power of the cloud
Luckily, taking advantage of new technologies is woven right into the fabric of Fruit of the Loom. Even when the trademark was first used in 1856, Fruit of the Loom products were made with cutting-edge innovations, such as the power loom, which manufactured garments of quality, value, and style for a wide audience. In the 160 years since, the supply chain for Fruit of the Loom products has become even more sophisticated and more global.
“We bring technology into everything we do,” says Bobby Berry, Senior Vice President, Solution Delivery at Fruit of the Loom. “Today we’re continuing that tradition, moving from manufacturing technology to investing in Microsoft cloud-based services to empower our workforce in a digital age.”
The garment retail industry moves at an unprecedented rate. Small, agile, and digitally savvy start-ups pose a challenge to established companies like Fruit of the Loom, which has complex global supply chains fine-tuned to manufacture large quantities of apparel. “We’ve never seen business at today’s pace,” says Tony Pelaski, Chief Operating Officer at Fruit of the Loom. “E-commerce is changing the retail climate; consumers want more variety, more often. The challenge for us is how we drive more agility into our supply chain to accommodate this new paradigm.”
Fruit of the Loom is taking on the realities of online comparative shopping with a digital transformation of its own—from the factory floor to the corner office. “To compete in an Internet-connected world, we needed a cultural shift at Fruit of the Loom,” says Berry. The company decided to move to Microsoft 365 E5 (formerly Secure Productive Enterprise E5), which brings together Office 365 E5, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 10 Enterprise to support a new culture of work that securely empowers teamwork and creativity for all workers.
“We’ve always been very good at manufacturing our product; now we must be equally good at engaging with our customers,” says Berry. “That means we have to keep the customer at the center of everything we do. We have to be more mobile, more collaborative, and more intelligent about how we run our business, all while maintaining a safe working environment. We use Microsoft 365 Enterprise to foster a modern and protected workspace for employees empowered by teamwork and collaboration—everything we need to succeed in a global, digital market.”
Layered security protects data
According to Chief Information Officer Chris Krebs, the key driver for selecting Microsoft was security—a responsibility that he rates as his “number one job” at Fruit of the Loom. His department introduced Microsoft Office 365 to Fruit of the Loom in 2013. With the move to Microsoft 365 E5, Fruit of the Loom continues its journey to protect the enterprise, while augmenting its digital workplace with enhanced collaboration, business intelligence, and anywhere, anytime access to the company’s intellectual property.
“As we see the security landscape evolving with more sophisticated attacks, we trust Microsoft to stay ahead of the latest threats to protect our network and our data,” says Krebs. “To ensure that mobility and productivity do not come with any risk to the safety of our data, we’re taking advantage of the multi-layered, cloud-based security services from within Office 365 E5 and Enterprise Mobility + Security.”
Today, Fruit of the Loom has the advanced data loss protection capabilities required to better protect its intellectual property, including products, styles, colors, pricing, and ad campaigns. “With the latest data loss prevention capabilities, we’ll build new policies to keep our information safe across legal, audit, and other departments,” says Raymond Kernea, Vice President of Information Security at Fruit of the Loom. “We are using e-discovery capabilities to complete a content management project that we are kicking off this year. We are also improving our zero-day threat and malware protection with Advanced Threat Protection, which provides an effective deterrent to phishing and malware through Safe Attachments and Safe Links.”
Kernea and his team also take advantage of identity and access management services within Enterprise Mobility + Security, available through Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium, to facilitate single sign-on for everyone in the organization. Multifactor authentication provides an extra layer of security for employees with elevated privileges within the company’s IT environment. And IT staffers have better control over securing the company’s mobile devices by using Microsoft Intune.
Fruit of the Loom worked with Microsoft partner, Netrix, to help prioritize and deploy the cloud-based security services. “Netrix helped us go from zero to 60 very quickly,” says Berry. “The team did a great job laying out a road map and deploying the services in a matter of weeks.”
To mitigate software and firmware threats, Fruit of the Loom is using security features built into Windows 10—constantly updated under the Windows as a service model—which helps IT to deliver a modern and secure technology experience for employees, with very little work required. “Windows as a service with Windows 10 helps us stay up-to-date with the latest security features to defend against modern attacks,” says Berry. “Now, we have the tools to discover, investigate, and contain attacks if they do reach our endpoints.”
Empower employees with enhanced collaboration
Fruit of the Loom uses Microsoft 365 Enterprise as the foundation for creativity, collaboration, and a secure technology experience—hallmarks of any modern, connected workplace—across diverse work styles and locations. Today, associated marketing managers share their desktops during Skype for Business Online video calls with sales teams to collaborate on presentations and review new products. And one senior manager in safety is thrilled with the collaborative benefits of Skype for Business Online; she finalized a two-year project on new safety gloves with teams in Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Canada—in a single, two-hour video call.
“My vision for Fruit of the Loom is to foster an engaged workforce with the skills and capabilities to deliver on our strategies around product innovation, customer insights, and speed to market,” says Terri Wiethorn, Chief Human Resources Officer at Fruit of the Loom. “To achieve that vision, we provide opportunities for communication and collaboration across the enterprise, from our firstline workers to our executives. We use SharePoint Online to power our company portal, called FruitNet. It reaffirms our collaborative culture, where we encourage every employee’s insight, creativity, and teamwork on how we do business at Fruit of the Loom.”
The workers closest to the products and consumers, in distribution centers and in the field, contribute to the organization with access to FruitNet. Through this portal, they stay informed on corporate news and collaborate on team sites to drive creativity and inspiration. They also connect with colleagues and company leaders through Yammer, the enterprise social network. “Our greatest thinkers are within the company,” says Pelaski. “Using Office 365 to provide everyone with the tools to collaborate and contribute is a vital part of our success.”
Today, employees have moved their files from shared drives to Microsoft OneDrive for Business online storage. Now it’s easy to send links to production process videos so engineers in manufacturing facilities can access them on their smartphones. Late in the afternoon, IT staff in the United States use SharePoint Online collaboration sites to share the latest product updates with colleagues early in the morning in India, so development work continues unabated around the world.
Now that Fruit of the Loom has the cloud-based telephony capabilities within Office 365 E5, the company is looking forward to supporting worldwide dial-in for business meetings and retiring its third-party web conferencing tool. “We’ll realize annual savings, but more importantly, with Skype for Business Online we’ll be providing an easier way to manage communications and conferencing for our users around the world,” says Berry.
Accelerate time to market with optimized supply chain
Today, when a new color shows up as next season’s favorite, or V-necks triumph over crew necks in a new product test market, Fruit of the Loom is able to fill the shelves with what customers want faster than ever. “We’re improving speed to market because we’re collaborating and communicating better,” says Pelaski. “Using Microsoft 365 Enterprise, we’re able to assess situations faster, share information, and make rapid decisions to stay ahead of a dynamic retail environment.”
Manufacturers around the globe who perform cutting, sewing, and packaging operations are some of the key players in the Fruit of the Loom supply chain. Today, they communicate in real time to change capacity and meet new demands, for example, when evaluating the success of a new promotion or to rapidly replenish low stocks on retailers’ shelves. That’s because they use Yammer to coordinate their processes and respond faster to directives from the head office.
Marketing, sales, and business analytics teams more efficiently coordinate product launches, promotions, and programs that directly affect the customer thanks to Microsoft 365 Enterprise. “These teams act as the direct line to our supply chain, identifying changes in consumer preference and suggesting modifications to products and packaging,” says Berry. “The better they communicate among themselves, the faster we send the right directives to our manufacturers so we can provide what the customers want.”
Improve competitive advantage with business intelligence
Fruit of the Loom is also taking advantage of numerous services within the Microsoft Azure cloud computing environment. The company is building an intelligent cloud infrastructure with data analysis services using Azure, including the Cortana Intelligence Suite. This service provides advanced analytics capabilities that interoperate with Microsoft 365 Enterprise to combine data from point-of-sales systems, retailers’ portals, syndicated retail data, demographic data, and even weather data in Azure Machine Learning and Power BI. Access to new combinations of data spurs creativity and innovation for new styles and marketing campaigns.
“We’re looking for trends and opportunities in the marketplace that align with our strategies. That way we’ll accelerate the business in the right direction to stay ahead of the competition,” says Jeff Lynn, Vice President of Business Analytics at Fruit of the Loom. “Speed to market requires speed to insight, so we’re using Power BI to distribute easy-to-read dashboards that condense data from diverse sources to deliver relevant insights across the company. The better we democratize that data, the more insights we garner and the more value we can offer our customers.”
Today, employees compare granular, store-level data with different data sources to build predictive models that move the company beyond “after the fact” business intelligence to predictive business analysis. “We develop intelligent, creative promotional strategies designed for different stores,” says Beth Rogers, Manager, Data Science at Fruit of the Loom. “For example, during back-to-school season, we optimize pricing, product placement, and number of bonus items per pack to maximize sales per linear foot of shelf space. We look at weather patterns to ensure good returns on fleece products. By understanding buying patterns for lightweight or heavyweight fleece for every five-degree temperature drop and by looking at forecasts for different geographies, we can ensure we have the right amount of the right weight of fleece garments in the right stores, at the right time.”
Sharing point of sale and demographic data with retailers that stock Fruit of the Loom products strengthens key business partnerships. “We’re providing better business intelligence to our retailers,” says Lynn. “As their trusted partner, we help them sell more product and ensure Fruit of the Loom stays on the shelves. Everyone wins.”
Fruit of the Loom is one of the oldest brands in the world, but it stays fresh by shaping the destiny of its business through disruptive technologies. “We reinvented a highly secure, collaborative, and intelligent workplace for employees using Microsoft 365 Enterprise,” concludes Lynn. “Now we can stay focused on our customers and drive our competitive advantage in a digital marketplace.”