Immediate realization of cloud benefits
What does that look like in practice? The best place to start is with just one application’s impact on Business Sweden - videoconferencing with Skype for Business. “We’d been using a lot of different conference technology packages and suppliers, and it was costing us a lot of money,” says Jordan. “We needed to deal with that overhead, but also increase and improve the quality of the service” - which is exactly what Skype for Business is doing. “It was an easy implementation that’s making a huge difference,” he confirms, “especially at global Business Sweden offices. Now, our colleagues have a much better way of communicating, not only internally, but also with external customers,” he confirms.
Jordan believes that this move alone - combined with less need for physical travel by Business Sweden staff and clients - is saving the organization around 1 million Swedish crowns ($121,000) annually. The team also estimates equivalent savings from the fact there has been no need to increase IT headcount, thanks to Office 365. In parallel, Jordan estimates a conservative 1000% increase in conferencing and online collaborative meetings after the switch. This translates to around 200 business meetings a day across all 500 Business Sweden consultants.
Similar benefits accrued from moving all email onto Exchange online, adds Wide – moves which would be quite enough for many organizations, but were just the beginning for this team. “Once those low hanging fruits were deployed, we needed to secure the platform,” says Wide. “That meant upgrading to Windows 10 as a company, and helping our users start to use all the new secure access features of that operating system. That already rich set of security functions, was then enhanced by Business Sweden’s activation of key Azure protection tools - especially Azure Information Protection and Conditional access.
“Enterprise mobility and security has been the most important part in this project and is a fundamental key of any modern business platform,” adds Christian Skoglund, Cloud Security Architect at Coligo, the firm that built the new Business Sweden system. “With Azure’s extensive security functions and products, we were able to build in the trust that the customer needed. Now, Business Sweden’s employees can work anywhere, from any device and collaborate in a fully secure manner. We also took full advantage of the power of Azure’s Machine Learning that enabled Business Sweden to achieve even higher security control.” The next step in this important direction was to invest in more content protection measures in a new company-wide SharePoint based intranet, adds Jordan.
Business Sweden says all this change to its biggest asset is also welcoming by its highly educated knowledge workers. “Our staff are very experienced, highly-trained management consultants from large consultancy firms,” Wide points out. “They have huge experience and knowledge to offer, and we need to utilize their experience as best as we can. That’s why the collaboration tools we have acquired via moving to Office 365 and Azure are critical to delivering our overall strategy. We want to be seen as a company in the forefront of technology - not for the sake of it, but so we can keep attracting the best. We don't want them to come to Business Sweden and have to make do with old systems, old hardware, or not being able to utilize the level of applications and tools they have had in their previous roles.”
Wide sums up the experience of moving to cloud: “We could have stuck with our older environment, tried to do what we needed with a range of other suppliers somehow or going deep with Microsoft technology. We believe that the cost from multiple vantage points – licenses, knowledge, manpower, integration cost and so forth – might have eventually cost Business Sweden two or three times what we have spent this way, and the savings will just continue to accrue.”
Next steps for cloud at Business Sweden include exploration of Microsoft Teams, a move to a fully serverless environment and a trial of Skype handsets in its US business, leaving old and expensive telecom technology.
Are more and more benefits ahead for this forward-thinking organization? It looks like a bet you wouldn’t lose money on.