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Dogeared makes modern, versatile jewelry with an uplifting message. The company recently switched from Google Apps to Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services. The transition has given Dogeared a holistic set of tools that will support the company as it grows and that employees are using to increase their responsiveness to colleagues and customers. Today we spoke with Chad Berryhill, IT Director at Dogeared, about the switch.
Q: Please tell us about Dogeared.
Dogeared focuses on creating original jewelry that is simple, modern, and versatile. Each handcrafted piece comes with a card and message designed in the spirit of love, kindness, and consciousness. The company is a certified B-Corporation, which means that we’re part of a community of companies that are developing better business practices, creating new ways to measure success, working with dignity and purpose, and using business as a force for good.
Q: Why did you want to move to cloud-based services?
When I joined Dogeared recently, I realized that the company had been addressing technology only on an as-needed basis—but the company had grown to the point where we really needed to take a step back and reevaluate our environment. It was clear to me that moving to the cloud would be the best way for us to get the range of tools that we needed without incurring all the management headaches. At Dogeared, we outsource 90 percent of our IT services, so I wanted a way to efficiently get useful new tools into employees’ hands now and avoid going through expensive, time-intensive upgrades and rollouts in the future. Plus, having our services in the cloud would mean that we could add employees without adding infrastructure. This, along with the ability to have outside experts manage every aspect of our messaging environment in the same way that they do for other customers, made it easy to decide on a move.
Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365?
Before I came to Dogeared, part of the company had started using Google Apps, but it had not been rolled out companywide. I don’t consider Google Apps an enterprise-class solution, and I did not see how we would be able to integrate it with the other solutions that we plan to implement. For instance, we’re moving to Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and we want employees to be able to access it through their other systems—that would be messy with Google Apps. And then there was the user experience. Employees whose mailboxes had been moved over to Google Apps had to use three different accounts to get to the tools that they needed, which is hardly a user-friendly scenario. In my mind, Office 365 not only offered a set of unified tools that would work well with other aspects of our environment, but it also represented a low-risk choice because Microsoft products are so comfortable for employees to use.
Q: How has Office 365 changed the way people work at Dogeared?
The biggest change for us is that our messaging and calendaring capabilities are completely reliable. They just work. We couldn’t say that in the past. Employees love that all their devices show the same schedule and that, when they plan a meeting, it shows up on all stakeholders’ calendars. That’s low-hanging fruit, but it was an important first step.
We’re also finding that we can operate as more of a cohesive unit. Individuals and teams are connecting with each other through everything from Microsoft Lync Online conferencing to the Yammer social media platform. Although we’re not a large company, we still have separate “silos” of information, and we’re taking advantage of Office 365 capabilities to break down the walls of some of those silos so that we work more effectively together.
Q: What other benefits are you seeing from Office 365?
Flexibility. Our salesforce can now get to the information they need from anywhere, which makes a real difference when they’re at trade shows and calling on customers. Employees can work better from home, too. With presence functionality, they know who’s available to answer questions—and they can be available to answer others’ questions, too—which makes everyone happier and more efficient.
We also think that Office 365 will grow with us as a company. We’re looking forward to the evolution of our integration with Office 365 as we transform from a small-scale boutique company into a larger operation, without losing the personal touch.