Finnair takes to the cloud with Office 365

Today’s post on Finnair’s move to Office 365 is excerpted from the full case study.

Finnair logo

The airline industry has seen its share of turbulence over the last decade, as mega-airlines merge and acquire smaller players, more regional airlines take to the air, and customers aggressively seek online bargains. Finnair, Finland’s largest airline and the fifth oldest airline in the world, has remained successful because it knows how to adapt and find smarter ways to operate.

In the face of many new low-cost air carriers springing up across Europe, Finnair still dominates both domestic and international air travel in Finland. “We have survived because we’ve been successful at keeping our costs under control, but we also understand that you can’t cut costs at the expense of customer satisfaction and employee effectiveness,” says Kari Hänninen, Architect in Corporate Information Management for Finnair. “We have to compete for the best people, who want a modern work environment where they are valued and listened to.”

Gain rock-solid, spam-free email

FinnairFinnair decided to unplug its expensive email and file-share servers and throw away its mix of document-sharing tools. In their place, it gave employees subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365.

“We ran a small pilot program of Google Docs, but Google doesn’t work well with Office, which all employees use, and its pricing model is not that great,” Hänninen says. “Microsoft had a far stronger federated enterprise solution, better support, a more convincing story around total cost and a more enterprise-ready, innovative solution.”

Finnair pilots, gate agents, mechanics and office staff now have anytime, any-device access to their email, which helps keep everyone on the same page. Office 365 filters all Finnair email for spam and malware to help keep communications more secure. “We switched from Postini to Exchange Online Protection (EOP), the Office 365 spam filtering technology, in just one day,” Hänninen says. “The EOP interface is familiar and easy to use and the filtering is excellent. We get rock-solid protection with financially backed service-level agreements. And because it’s part of Office 365, it’s more cost-effective to manage.” Finnair is able to easily create targeted email filtering rules for different roles.

Help employees find their voice

It’s easy for Finnair gate agents, cabin crew, and pilots to feel disconnected from decisions being made at headquarters. Employees use social networking capabilities built into Office 365 to participate in relevant conversations. “It’s very easy to get a snapshot of issues, to contribute, and to invite others to join a conversation,” Hänninen says. “If you have something to contribute that could help the business, now you can. It really helps people feel that they are heard and also helps them get the information they need to make better decisions.”

Reduce costs by 15 percent

Although the benefits of bringing its workforce closer together have been far-reaching, the reality is that there would have been no refresh unless it had involved saving money. “With Office 365, we have eliminated recurring software upgrade costs and the extra cost of Postini,” Hänninen says. “Over six years, Office 365 will be 15 percent less expensive than maintaining our own email servers. Plus, paying for software as a per-user fee makes it much easier to predict and budget.”