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Streamlining Operations and Improving Effectiveness with Microsoft® Online Services


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In 2007, the Spanish consulting firm Competitiveness went virtual, closing its offices and decommissioning its infrastructure. Since then, it has been running its global business using Google Apps, WebEx, and a dozen other Web-based tools. While Competitiveness was comfortable with the idea of working online, the multiplicity of passwords and user interfaces, poor integration, and inconsistent levels of functionality were subtly undermining its ability to conduct business effectively. Competitiveness turned to the Centro de Innovación en Productividad for help, and CIP introduced it to the Business Productivity Online Suite from Microsoft Online Services. Competitiveness can now access the majority of services it needs from one provider, with a single sign-on, and better integration between online and offline applications, ensure that its employees can work more effectively than ever.

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Streamlining Operations and Improving Effectiveness with Microsoft® Online Services

  1. 1. Microsoft Online Services Customer Solution Case Study Streamlining Operations and Improving Effectiveness with Microsoft Online Services ®Overview “You want the interaction with the tools you need toCountry or Region: SpainIndustry: Consulting do your work to feel frictionless—and when we had a dozen tools and passwords and user interfaces it wasCustomer ProfileCompetitiveness works with clusters of not frictionless at all..”companies, local, and state governments Emiliano Duch, CEO, Competitivenessto increase the competitiveness of thecluster. The company works with clients In 2007, the Spanish consulting firm Competitiveness went virtual,around the world and operates virtually,with no physical offices of its own. closing its offices and decommissioning its infrastructure. Since then, it has been running its global business using Google Apps,Business SituationCompetitiveness employees were relying WebEx, and a dozen other Web-based tools. While Competitivenesson Google Apps and a dozen other online was comfortable with the idea of working online, the multiplicity ofservices. Compatibility issues and the needto remember so many distinct passwords passwords and user interfaces, poor integration, and inconsistentand manage so many distinct user levels of functionality were subtly undermining its ability to conductinterfaces were compromising employeeeffectiveness. business effectively. Competitiveness turned to the Centro de Innovación en Productividad for help, and CIP introduced it to theSolutionCompetitiveness executives conferred with Business Productivity Online Suite from Microsoft Online Services.the Centro de Innovación en Productividad, Competitiveness can now access the majority of services it needswhere they discovered the BusinessProductivity Online Suite from Microsoft from one provider, with a single sign-on, and better integrationOnline Services. between online and offline applications, ensure that its employeesBenefits can work more effectively than ever. Single sign-on to required applications Greater inter-application integration Consistent user interface and conventions Improved efficiency
  2. 2. Situation Business Productivity Online Suite from Competitiveness provides consulting services Microsoft Online Services, the end of the that helps clusters of companies become struggle appeared to be in sight. more competitive in the global marketplace. It has 25 full time employees and, at any Solution given time, 25 or more customer trainees The Business Productivity Online Suite from working all over the world. While Microsoft Online Services enables Competitiveness is officially based in Competitiveness to gain access to a range of Barcelona, the company operates virtually. It integrated, enterprise-class services without has no formal office space. In fact, since having to procure or maintain an in-house 2007, Competitiveness has operated entirely infrastructure for those services. Microsoft online and relied on cloud-based applications Online Services enables access to and infrastructure from Google and other collaboration tools and shared workspaces, service providers. workflow, desktop and mobile e-mail, calendaring and contacts, instant messaging,“We also used to use Competitiveness was comfortable with the presence, audio/video conferencing, and idea of working online, but the company’s Web conferencing. Yet because theGoogle Talk to do needs had given rise to a complex mixture of applications supporting these services—meetings, but we could services. On any given day, its 50 users including Microsoft SharePoint® Online, worked with Google Apps, SugarCRM, WebEx, Microsoft Exchange Online, Office Livenot use it to have MindSalt, SurveyMonkey, BeamYourScreen, Meeting, and Microsoft Officemeetings with multiple and more. In all, Competitiveness was relying Communications Online—run on servers on more than a dozen application and service residing in a state-of-the-art Microsoft datapeople, so the Business providers. That meant more than a dozen center, neither Competitiveness nor CIPProductivity Online Suite user interfaces and more than a dozen needs to invest in on-premises infrastructure passwords for each employee to remember to take advantage of these services.will really help us with and re-enter on a daily basis. The Googlegroup interactions.” applications tended to be somewhat basic in Microsoft hosts and maintains the servers their functionally, too, so Competitiveness with its own staff of hardware and softwareEmiliano Duch, CEO, Competitiveness employees typically ran the Microsoft Office experts, supplies patches and security suite of productivity tools on their laptops and updates in real time, and guarantees 99.9 used those whenever preparing final docs percent uptime with a financially-backed SLA, and presentations for clients. Given the so Competitiveness employees always have difficulties of saving those documents in access to the latest, most up-to-date versions Google Docs without formatting issues, they of the applications to which they subscribe. had to resort to a different cloud-based CIP can provide Competitiveness with repository accessed through yet another support, training, and other value-added application. services to enable the company to make the most of this online solution. After a year and a half of struggling to make online applications work, Competitiveness CIP and the Business Productivity Online executives approached the Centro de Suite offers still other advantages. Instead of Innovación en Productividad (CIP) in having to purchase separate server and client Manresa, Spain, which works closely with licenses for infrastructure components such evolving companies in Catalonia to improve as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server or productivity through better use of technology. Microsoft Exchange Server, Competitiveness When CIP showed Competitiveness the can, though CIP, simply subscribe to the
  3. 3. applications its users need on a per-user, per- a consistent user interface. Employees can month basis. This eliminates up-front continue to use the Microsoft Office licensing costs and enables Competitiveness applications on their laptops and save their to cover the nominal expense of accessing documents and presentations to a these services using its operational rather SharePoint Online workspace in the cloud. than capital budget. CIP enables Competitiveness to provide its users with “The degree of integration among these access to the entire Business Productivity applications is one of the most valuable Online Suite for one low monthly fee. If a user aspects of the Business Productivity Online were to need access to only one service— Suite,” says Duch. “We can easily share files Microsoft Exchange Online, for example—CIP without worrying about the format becoming could set up the service so that that user corrupted because we saved it online. That could access just that service, and at an even saves a lot of headaches and rework. lower monthly fee to Competitiveness. The choice belongs to Competitiveness. “The other aspect is the ease with which we can choose to work online or offline,” Duch“We can easily share Benefits goes on to say. “If our users were trying tofiles without worrying For Competitiveness, the Business use Google Apps before, they could only do it Productivity Online Suite has proven to be an while online. They could not use theseabout the format ideal solution. CIP set up accounts and applications while they were on a plane orbecoming corrupted migrated the company’s users from their unable to get a good connection. That’s one older online applications in a matter of of the other reasons why our users chose tobecause we saved it weeks. Now, the only online services run Microsoft Office on their laptops—so theyonline. That saves a lot Competitiveness relies on aside from the could be productive while offline. The Business Productivity Online Suite are its Microsoft online and offline applicationsof headaches and online banking and customer relationship complement each other, so they can createrework.” management (CRM) solutions. The offline and save online when they get a functionality delivered by the online services chance to reconnect. In this way, theEmiliano Duch, CEO, Competitiveness formerly used by Competitiveness Microsoft Office applications on the laptop consultants are now supported by Microsoft and the Microsoft Online Services in the Online Services and the Business Productivity cloud work very well together.” Online Suite. The net results include a more streamlined online experience, greater Group interactions are similarly streamlined. flexibility and security for developing project- “To call an online meeting before, someone specific communities of interest, and what had to go into WebEx, enter the password, set Emiliano Duch, CEO of Competitiveness, calls up the meeting, and send an e-mail to all the a decrease in the “friction” that had made it participants. They’d have to open the e-mail more difficult for employees to work optimally message and click on the link to join. Now, in a virtual environment. using Office Live Meeting, all of that is done automatically. We also used to use Google A Streamlined Online Experience Talk to do meetings, but we could not use it By itself, the Business Productivity Online to have meetings with multiple people, so the Suite from Microsoft Online Services provides Business Productivity Online Suite will really many of the features and functions that help us with group interactions. We want Competitiveness had been relying on multiple online meetings to be easy, as though we providers to deliver—and it provides access to were sitting in the same room—even when all these services with a single password and we’re not.”
  4. 4. Business-class Flexibility and Security services. The services in the Business For Duch, the Business Productivity Online Productivity Online Suite started as Suite also offers levels of flexibility and enterprise-class services for individual security that he found missing from other companies, with a lot of attention paid to online services. Competitiveness works on privacy and security, and then they moved many projects simultaneously. Many of its online. For Competitiveness, that’s a real projects involve training local businesspeople advantage. With the Business Productivity to run their operations in new ways, so these Online Suite, we gain the flexibility and trainees need access to the same online scalability benefits of being online, but we tools and collaboration spaces that also gain the privacy and security benefits Competitiveness consultants use. At the that an offline system would ensure.” same time, Competitiveness needs to maintain control over its intellectual assets Eliminating Friction, Increasing and needs to set up its project spaces with Effectiveness different levels of security and user access. For the consultants and executives at“If our users were trying Competitiveness, the need to enter a dozento use Google Apps “We’re building intranets for our consultants different passwords on a daily basis and to and selected groups of participants” explains navigate a dozen distinct user interfacesbefore, they could only Duch, “but we want them to be closed. These were problems less of productivity and moredo it while online. . . . are essentially communities of interest, but of operating efficiency. “We want our people we don’t want them to be linked with any to be at ease working online,” says Duch. “WeThe Microsoft online and others. The problem with using an online want them to feel as comfortable interactingoffline applications service such as LinkedIn or Face book to do with people online as they would be meeting this is that once you join a community face to face, even if the people they’recomplement each other, everyone knows who you have as friends. We interacting with are on opposite sides of theso they can create want the opposite: we want our clients to world.” understand that it’s an advantage to be inoffline and save online our network, that being in our network they Ultimately, that is the problem that thewhen they get a chance can get updated information about things Business Productivity Online Suite from that will be useful for them, and that that Microsoft Online Services is helpingto reconnect.” information is not available to everyone. It’s a Competiveness to overcome. The goal ofEmiliano Duchy, CEO, Competitiveness closed system and we can control who has ease of computing was impossible to achieve access.” when Competitiveness consultants were using multiple online applications and having Today, the idea of “online” is synonymous to disrupt their work by dealing with multiple with “open,” says Duch, but for a business passwords or adjusting to inconsistent user like Competitiveness, the idea of “online” and interfaces. “closed” is more important. “That’s actually something that’s difficult to find in many of “Every delay compromises this goal,” says the online systems that are out there,” Duch Duch. “So every distraction that you can continues, “particularly in systems that remove becomes critical. You want the originated as free services and became fee- interaction with the tools you need to do your based services after the fact. Google, Skype, work to feel frictionless—and when we had a and others—they all began as free consumer- dozen tools and passwords and user oriented services and then they tried to interfaces it was not frictionless at all. That’s become professional. But you’re still sharing why the level of integration we gain through the same infrastructure with the free the Business Productivity Online Suite and
  5. 5. For More Information Microsoft Online Services is important. It will Microsoft Online ServicesFor more information about Microsoft help us operate far more effectively as an Microsoft Online Services is a business-classproducts and services, call the Microsoft online organization.” communications and collaboration softwareSales Information Center at (800) 426- offering delivered as a subscription service,9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft hosted by Microsoft, and sold with partners.Canada Information Centre at (877) 568- These services help make it easier for2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of- customers to rapidly and cost-effectivelyhearing can reach Microsoft text telephone access the most up-to-date technologies, and(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in are designed for rapid deployment to providethe United States or (905) 568-9641 in customers with streamlined communications,Canada. Outside the 50 United States and simplified management, and business-classCanada, please contact your local reliability and security.Microsoft subsidiary. To access informationusing the World Wide Web, go to: For IT staff, Microsoft Online Services reduce the burden of performing routine IT management tasks such as installation,For more information about Centro de provisioning, ongoing maintenance, patches,Innovación en Productividad products and updates, and upgrades, making it possible forservices, call +34 93 877 2100 or visit the them to spend more time on initiatives thatWeb site at: move the business forward. These services are backed by strong SLAs and are designedFor more information about to meet the regulatory compliance andCompetitiveness products and services, reliability needs of enterprise customers. Oncall +34 669 86 55 00 or visit the Web site a technical level, the services boast theat: sophistication and reliability that customers expect from Microsoft, which continues to invest heavily in building data centers to support these services. For more information, visit: Software and Services − Microsoft Office Communications Online  Microsoft Online Services − Office Live Meeting − Microsoft Exchange Online − Microsoft SharePoint OnlineThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFTMAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THISSUMMARY.Document published March 2009