Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, a recreational entertainment company with locations across the United States, chose Office 365 over Google Apps to support its rapid growth. The move gave corporate employees and franchise owners unified tools that act as a competitive differentiator when it comes to professionalism, productivity, and customer service. We recently spoke with Tom Boyle, Global IT Director, Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park to get the details.
Q: Please tell us about Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park.
Boyle: We consider Sky Zone the ultimate play experience, where both kids and adults can play dodge ball, hold a birthday party or corporate event, take a fitness class, or just jump around on a sea of connected trampolines. Our first park opened in 2004, and we’re currently expanding into Mexico and Australia, with additional exciting international destinations planned for the future.
Q: Why did you want to move to cloud-based services?
Boyle: As soon as I came on board, I knew that we needed to adopt cloud services. We’re growing so quickly—adding more than two parks every month—that it would have been difficult and expensive to scale the on-premises systems that we would need. Sky Zone used a variety of consumer-focused tools, but it was clearly time for enterprise-class technologies that could easily scale with us. By embracing cloud services, we could avoid becoming an IT shop and having to hire IT staff. We wanted to stay focused on trampolines, not servers.
Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365?
Boyle: We considered both Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, but deciding on Office 365 was simply the better choice. I learned through discussions with employees that they preferred the familiar look and feel of Microsoft software. Plus, it was clear to me that Office 365 would provide a more unified user experience—the Google user interfaces were just too clumsy. With Office 365, we get email, calendaring, intranet/extranet, document storage, conferencing, and presence functionality. Yammer comes with it, too, giving us enterprise-focused social media capabilities to use with our whole franchise community. Really, when I did an apples-to-apples comparison with Google Apps, it was a no-brainer to go for Office 365.
Q: How has Office 365 changed the way people work at Sky Zone?
Boyle:First, we are more confident that our communications are working properly. In the past, we didn’t have a reliable email system, so employees and customers defaulted to using the phone or personal email accounts, and that simply doesn’t have the “wow” experience that Sky Zone represents. As we expand internationally, it is critical that we can count on our emails going through, which means that colleagues can get in touch with each other quickly to answer questions (and use presence to see who’s available) and customers can see that their reservations are confirmed.
Second, our IT strategic plan will leverage nearly every component of Office 365. We plan to automate our parts-ordering process for Franchise Partners by using SharePoint Online, and we want to expand their ability to offer Sky Zone information and products to their guests. We want to use Yammer, rather than long email threads, to share ideas and best practices, and we’ll store our policies and procedures, park opening information, and other critical data in OneDrive for Business. All in all, moving to Office 365 is helping us provide a more consistent user and customer experience across all our franchise locations.
Q: What other benefits are you seeing from Office 365?
Boyle:The most important aspect of Office 365 is that it’s so scalable—as we welcome new franchise partners, it’s easy to fold them into Office 365 and get them up and running right away, without any IT headaches. I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to have not just cloud services, but enterprise-class tools that our extended user community wants to use. After all, what good is technology if people aren’t willing to take advantage of it?
The real kicker is that adopting Office 365 is saving us a lot of money. In addition to avoiding email archiving and document storage fees, using Office 365 will save us more than $1 million over five years. That’s actual hard savings that doesn’t include the significant productivity savings that come from having higher system availability, a unified tool set, and a stable platform supported by Microsoft. Because we are expanding to so many regions, common sense dictates that we will actually realize higher savings year-over-year from these figures. That’s some pretty significant upside.