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Energy company SEPCOIII had been using Gmail for external communication but found it unreliable and cumbersome. The company eventually switched from Gmail to Microsoft Office 365. We recently spoke to Pradeep Parmar, Director of Management Information Systems at SEPCOIII, to learn why:
Q: Please tell us about SEPCOIII.
Pradeep Parmar: SEPCOIII originally was the electric utility company for the Shandong province of China, and eventually shifted into designing and building power plants across China. In 2011, we decided to take the business global and opened up a regional office in Dubai to lead our international expansion.
Q: Why did you investigate a cloud services solution to manage your messaging and collaboration?
Parmar: We had been using a combination of IBM Lotus Notes for internal communication and individual Gmail accounts for external communication, but it wasn’t meeting our needs. We started investigating cloud-based solutions because we were growing quickly and IT is not our core business. We needed a single solution that required minimal capital investment, could be deployed very fast, and would offer world-class capability, reliability, and availability. We also wanted a solution that easily scaled up as we grew internationally.
Q: Why did you choose Office 365 over Google Apps?
Parmar: Gmail was very unreliable, and employees were losing email. Most found the calendar feature cumbersome and weren’t even using it. Employees were frustrated that the company didn’t have a stable, reliable email solution. The fact that Gmail provided limited offline functionality was also a problem. At project sites, where there was often no Internet connection, employees weren’t able to transfer files by email. This meant tasks that should have taken a few hours to complete were taking days and even weeks.
Given employees’ negative experiences with Gmail, we immediately ruled out Google Apps as we explored a new solution. Instead, we compared an on-premises Office solution with Office 365 in the cloud. We chose Office 365 after our analysis showed we could save an estimated 80 percent in IT hardware and administrative costs over a six-year period. In June 2012, we hired LiveRoute to deploy Office 365 in our Dubai office. Our goal is to move all 5,800 employees to Office 365 by the end of 2013.
Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365?
Parmar: By moving to Office 365, we now have a robust and reliable email and collaboration solution that’s improving our productivity. Employees are no longer worried about losing email and have begun using shared calendars to quickly schedule meetings. They’re also using the offline capabilities of Office 365 to stay productive when there’s no Internet connection. In addition, we now use SharePoint Online as a central portal to store company documents, which means employees can access company information wherever they are, from nearly any device. If an employee leaves the company or loses his or her laptop, no problem; the information stays with the company. We’ve also replaced the majority of in-person meetings with Lync Online videoconferences, reducing our travel requirements. We are so relieved to be using Office 365. It’s a great platform that we can rely on.