New opportunities for real estate on a global scale, supported by Office 365

Editor’s note 7/12/2016:
This post was updated to reflect the addition of the Cushman & Wakefield video.

Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Robert Franch, chief technology officer at Cushman & Wakefield.

New opportunities for real estate on a global scale headshotThere’s no question that the global property management market is booming. Increased density and continued development generate plenty of activity, with buyers and sellers looking for the right properties in the ideal locations at the perfect price. Cushman & Wakefield operates out of more than 400 offices across 60 countries, and our 43,000 employees work with customers in every corner of the world. We’ve more than doubled in size over the last 18 months—and we’re not done growing.

Operating at that geographical spread and scale can be daunting, but it also presents a number of opportunities. We needed to find streamlined ways to quickly integrate new employees and business units and make them productive immediately. We also want to improve our cross-regional selling strategies, so that we can maximize market revenue. For instance, if we have a customer in the United Kingdom that also has offices in China and Mexico, we want to work as a team to ensure that we’re helping that customer in a cohesive manner. It’s a win-win situation because our customer benefits, which offers us potential sales growth.

We’re shifting our culture to think more about how we can foster teamwork, support mobile productivity and share knowledge companywide—all with the goal of hitting ambitious organic growth goals for the next few years.

One of the keys for us has been our adoption of Microsoft Office 365. We made the initial decision to move to Office 365 in 2014 when we determined that we needed highly scalable technology to keep up with our acquisitions. At the time, replacing our email system was our biggest business driver, followed by the need for a unified intranet portal. We considered cloud offerings from Google and IBM, but we quickly realized that the amount of user training and change management necessary would be far too great. With so many other changes going on in the business, migrating to Office 365 was the smartest choice because it gave us all the functionality we needed without sacrificing employee comfort and productivity.

We’re now rolling out the most comprehensive version of Office 365 available, with advanced security and analytics capabilities, as well as Skype for Business meetings and voice services. I love the idea of rolling all that functionality together for easier management. We decided to go all in, and we’re really excited about the added functionality. We have aggressive goals for adoption, and we’re looking forward to bringing together everything from collaboration to telephony under one license to help with our global up-selling initiatives.

We’re fully deployed on Exchange Online, but employees are starting to enjoy other productivity services, such as Office 365 ProPlus, which provides the ability for our employees to use Office programs on up to 15 devices, including home computers and mobile phones. And because mobility is mission critical, we’ve deployed OneDrive for Business, so that team workers can coauthor and collaborate on documents in real time.

To make our teams even more productive and accessible, we’re transitioning away from traditional telephony and replacing it with Skype for Business Online. Team workers can even have Skype for Business Online enabled on their mobile devices for more flexibility. We estimate that we will save more than $1 million a year on telephony costs by leveraging the new PSTN Conferencing and Calling capabilities. We’re essentially providing employees with an “office in a box,” where they have access to everything and everyone they need through the devices that they use every day. We’re encouraging them to spend more time at customer sites and giving them the support to boost responsiveness and improve customer service at the same time.

As we transform into a more globally aware culture, we’ve been surprised and pleased at how much Yammer has helped us with that effort. Currently, more than 13,000 employees use Yammer to share ideas and communicate about customers and leads, which helps us support our goal of better cross-regional selling. So far, Yammer usage has grown organically, but we plan to market it internally so that everyone knows how and why to use it. If we take all the email threads and hallway conversations and put them into that forum, we’ll capture valuable knowledge and make better use of it. We’ll have more visibility into what others are working on and get people talking more. Even though we have hundreds of offices around the world, we can feel like a better-connected organization when we collaborate through Yammer.

We found that Office 365 has provided tremendous value, especially when going through the mergers and acquisitions process. We were able to bring companies together approximately 30 percent more quickly, with the ability for new colleagues to collaborate as soon as the ink was dry on the merger agreement. Overall, our move to Office 365 has given Cushman & Wakefield the scale and consistency that we need to continue to grow without any disruption to the business. We’re excited to take our collaboration and communication to the next level across our enterprise.

—Robert Franch