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Today’s post was written by Fabio Catassi, chief technology officer at the Mediterranean Shipping Company.
The Mediterranean Shipping Company has been under the same family leadership since its inception 43 years ago, and while the company now manages its fleet of 480 vessels from offices in 150 countries, it’s fair to say that its caring, corporate culture is as strong today as it ever was. But while we all feel connected to a large corporate family, unfortunately, our IT systems did not support that connectivity, or the global communications that we needed to compete in today’s digital economy.
Container shipping has evolved over the years to become a commodity-based business. Today, we are facing an era of shrinking profit margins and a growing pressure on the revenue side. Yet we were able to ensure that IT played its part in minimizing operational expenses, while improving our business services to employees. That’s because Office 365 delivers a cost-effective, cloud-based solution to bring everybody up to the same level of mobility and productivity across our global operations.
When I became CTO in 2005, we wanted to replace the disparate business productivity solutions we had running in 480 offices around the world with a single digital workplace for everyone. After evaluating other web-based solutions, including Google Apps for Business (now G Suite) and Amazon Web Services, we chose Office 365 cloud-based communication and collaboration services to empower all employees with the same leading-edge, yet familiar business tools. Security also played into this decision: we had various security solutions in place across our global offices, and it took a tremendous effort to ensure that everyone achieved an acceptable standard of security practices. The beauty of Office 365 is that we are deploying Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection as a single security control for all our offices. This service addresses the latest attacks that can invade a network through email attachments or embedded links. In the end, we benefit from the Office 365 constant update model and uniformity of service, plus the added bonus that Microsoft takes care of running the service in the cloud on dedicated hardware.
Today, we use Office 365 to boost mobility and productivity to differentiate our personal service from that of our competitors. The faster we share information and collaborate on behalf of our customers, the more responsive our service. This was a significant challenge before, with so many different solutions in place around the world. Now our employees access their files anywhere from online storage, IM colleagues for quick answers to questions, or spontaneously invite their team members to a video conference. When we have the same easy connectivity across the hall, or around the world, we can make good on our promise to provide global service with local knowledge. And now that regional managers are benefitting from easy-to-use data analytics and dashboard tools to decide what’s best for their customers, we can provide more informed local service.
Mobility is especially important to enable the flexible service our customers have come to expect. Today, our employees are no longer bound to a specific device. Now that people can be more productive on their own terms, we expect efficient turnaround of information among colleagues and with our customers.
Microsoft Consulting Services was invaluable in the deployment of Office 365—it complemented our small, yet nimble IT team and helped us transform how the company works on a daily basis. Despite the variety of legacy environments in place across our offices, we achieved the migration in just nine months. And with our recent subscription to add 17,000 seats of Office 365 E5, we expect a similar rapid adoption of the latest advances in cloud telephony and Office Delve, which delivers personalized content from all your Office 365 apps. At the end of the day, providing a rewarding workplace with a state-of-the-art business productivity platform reaffirms our corporate culture of encouraging long-term employees in a supportive environment—and also gives us a competitive edge where we can work leaner and more efficiently to preserve our profit margins. That’s great business value!
To understand how Mediterranean Shipping Company has reduced costs by 45 percent, read the full case study.