Brooks Running - Berkshire Hathaway

Brooks is running a more efficient business with a modern workplace powered by Microsoft 365

The global community of 700 employees at Brooks Running Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, is dedicated to one thing—designing and manufacturing the best running shoes. Since deploying Microsoft 365, everyone at Brooks is energized by a new level of highly secure collaboration in virtual workplaces. Enhanced teamwork fuels efficiency across Brooks where focused productivity accelerates the achievement of corporate goals. And that’s good for business.   

The “glass half-full” vibe at Brooks Running Company is embodied by its 700 employees who take the company’s philosophy of the life-affirming power of the run to heart. This companywide embrace of an active lifestyle helps everyone to focus on Brooks’ specialty—innovative running shoes and apparel—pulling from experience to drive success. “Folks here are very active and positive,” says Erin Pategas, Director of Marketing, Communications, Social Media & Influencer Marketing at Brooks. Pategas is a lifelong runner who wears the Brooks Bedlam shoe, for its energized, springy ride. “No matter what position we have in the company, we bring that enthusiasm and optimism into our teamwork to build great footwear and apparel for the running community.” 

More than 50 percent of Brooks employees work somewhere other than the Seattle, Washington, headquarters—at the current distribution center in Sumner, Washington, a new distribution center in Indiana, and in sales offices across Europe and Canada. Offices are also embedded in the company’s manufacturing facilities in Asia. “Global collaboration is increasingly important as we expand our business,” says Mark McKelvey, Vice President of Information Technology at Brooks, who can be found running the trails wearing the Brooks Cascadia. “Eliminating the barriers that come with different time zones and geographies improve productivity and teamwork—key elements of a modern workplace,” he says. “Our vision is for each employee to have easy access to the tools and information they need, anywhere, on any device. That’s why we deployed Microsoft 365.” 

Microsoft 365 is a complete, intelligent solution that empowers everyone to be creative and work together in highly secure environments. It includes Microsoft Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. 

Brooks is using Microsoft 365 and the Azure cloud platform to set a new pace in agility and innovation. Take the company’s unique gait analysis app, called Run Signature, that looks at a runner’s unique biomechanics to help find the best running shoe. The app is built using Azure, which also supports a B2B platform that Brooks recently debuted. “Making life easier for our retailers is a big part of our journey to the cloud,” says McKelvey. “From big chains to specialty shops, our new B2B platform is a popular, easy-to-use solution that’s good for business.” 

Getting to market faster with cloud collaboration tools

Since deploying Microsoft 365, Pategas has seen a big improvement in teamwork. Collaborating with approximately 50 colleagues to launch the go-to-market plan for the Fall 2019 season, the marketing group created information to share with customers and retailers via the corporate website, social media, digital and print advertising, public relations, and influencer marketing. Everyone worked in sync throughout the content creation process. With Office 365 apps, employees efficiently refined the company’s branding to get their message out, ahead of competitors. 

“Creating a marketing plan is a global, deadline-driven process. We used OneDrive file sharing and Skype for Business video calls to collaborate on documents simultaneously, drastically reducing versioning issues,” says Pategas. “Storing everything in OneDrive is convenient and we don’t have to worry about file size. For my team, Office 365 made cross-departmental collaboration frictionless.” 

Brooks employees use Office 365 apps to expedite collaboration between the product development and design teams in Seattle and the commercialization and quality assurance departments in factories in Asia. “Better collaboration between these functions will reduce design iterations, so we can bring a new shoe to market faster,” says McKelvey. “This benefit is only going to increase as we expand the company.” 

Building a global community

Part of the Brooks vision for a modern workplace involves breaking down the geographical barriers among employees. Since Brooks relaunched its intranet, Inside Track, moving it from on-premises to SharePoint Online, employees use it to stay in touch with colleagues, access corporate news, and collaborate on projects. Pategas and her colleagues find Inside Track easier to update than its on-premises predecessor. Employees visit the intranet to read corporate news articles, check events calendars, and review spotlights and kudos about their coworkers. Senior leadership uses Inside Track as a vehicle to communicate with the entire workforce. 

“When we redesigned our intranet to take advantage of the modern look and feel of SharePoint Online, employees appreciated the improved search and navigation,” says Pategas. “Today we’re seeing an 11.2 percent increase in weekly traffic to Inside Track. Our intranet is now the go-to place for dynamically sharing business and events from the leadership’s perspective.” 

Pategas also credits Skype for Business for increasing a sense of global comradery among Brooks employees that reinforces teamwork to achieve corporate goals. Her colleagues conduct weekly calls with their counterparts in Amsterdam, and the face-to-face video calls are turning impersonal names on an org chart into friends. “Better working relationships reflect a Brooks value, which states, ‘We live, work, and run as part of a global community,’” says Pategas. And stronger working relationships contribute to a stronger business. “When we can see each other, share documents, and make edits on the fly, we get the work done faster.” 

Improving security to enable a modern workplace  

Brooks works to protect its intellectual property using Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium P2 to enable multifactor authentication and provide highly secure access to corporate information. Brooks also supports virtual collaboration on files accessed anywhere on any device using the Windows 10 operating system. Taking advantage of BitLocker Drive Encryption is one way that Brooks helps protect employee’s laptops. “Our technology innovation in shoe design is the lifeblood of our business,” says McKelvey. “We use Windows 10 to help secure employees’ mobile devices.” 

And because Brooks has enabled Information Rights Management and Data Loss Protection services within Exchange Online, everyone enjoys a more stable email service compared to the company’s previous solution, hosted by a third-party provider. 

With a modern, highly secure desktop, Brooks employees have the tools they need to be more productive—without thinking about the technology. Just like the company’s shoes, designed to fuel confidence and optimism in runners, Brooks employees are putting their best foot forward to help the company finish ahead of its competitors.

Find out more about Brooks Running Company on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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Our vision is for each employee to have easy access to the tools and information they need, anywhere, on any device. That’s why we deployed Microsoft 365.
Mark McKelvey, Vice President of Information Technology Brooks Running Company
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