Discovery Communications embraces Office 365 to foster creative culture of innovation

Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Dave Duvall, senior vice president of infrastructure and support services at Discovery Communications, a leader in global entertainment.

Discovery pro pixChange is a constant in today’s business and media landscape, but that does not make it any easier, especially when it comes to technology. However, having a company and workforce hungry for the best new solutions brings great opportunity. Our leadership and employees understand that embracing new technology can, and should, result in greater productivity, flexibility and, ultimately, a happier, more successful culture. At Discovery Communications, our teams produce content for some of the most recognizable and beloved brands, have made crab fisherman icons with “Deadliest Catch,” and have established one of the most beloved (yet unofficial) U.S. holidays, “Shark Week.”

Our 7,000 employees around the world have high expectations of their technology tools. At the same time, our Global Technology and Operations team works tirelessly to deliver innovations that support employee creativity and the company’s open, collaborative work environment—without exposing us to risk. By enabling employees to securely share ideas and work closely together, we not only sharpen the company’s focus on bringing compelling content to the screen but also increase operational efficiency.

A few years ago, Discovery moved from on-premises systems to Microsoft Office 365. With our eyes on flexible solutions that would grow with our global business, we wanted to stop supporting non-differentiated services that involve a lot of heavy lifting for our team. More importantly, shifting to cloud-based services makes it possible to give employees capabilities that are always available and that include the latest features and enhancements. Office 365 puts a lot of the power into employees’ hands to control their own environment. We looked at several offerings, but the Office suite provides a universal language for business around the globe, and it made sense to stay in a world where our employees were already productive.

We have had remarkable success in migrating to Microsoft Exchange Online, moving our intranet to Microsoft SharePoint Online and adding Yammer as our enterprise social network. At the same time, we have taken full advantage of built-in features like Exchange Online Protection and archiving capabilities. So it was only natural to be interested in adopting the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite and the latest Office 365 offering—the E5 suite.

Honestly, if I look at the decision to move to Office 365 E5 licenses from a strictly financial standpoint, it’s worth it just for Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Advanced eDiscovery alone. Anyone who has to deal with today’s sophisticated information security threats understands that ATP is a must-have. We have to make sure we protect our programming content, employees and production partners, so the enhanced security components in E5 were a key factor in our decision to move forward.

In order to best serve our Legal team, Discovery is implementing Advanced eDiscovery for litigation and data requests—allowing them to search more effectively across mail and content repositories, to see results in a more dynamic way and to better manage their daily work. Advanced eDiscovery has a much more natural search language and a more approachable interface for our attorneys and the ability to see search results in a more dynamic way. Using it will save a lot of time and help to produce more accurate, relevant and comprehensive results.

Gaining Microsoft Power BI played a major role in our decision, as well. With Power BI, we will be able to further democratize business intelligence and analytics for all our employees. While storytelling and compelling content are at the center of what we do, our business is grounded in understanding our audiences through research and data. We now have a powerful cloud offering that plugs into the familiar Office suite. A cloud-based platform like Power BI allows us to share key data insights more effectively than passing spreadsheets or sending PDFs, while also facilitating the organization, analysis and visualization of data however it is most meaningful to each employee.

Telephony represents another area where the E5 licenses will help us achieve both efficiencies and cost savings. We currently have an on-premises Skype for Business environment, configured as a hybrid with the cloud, and we plan to move entirely to the cloud in the next few years. We’re running pilot tests of Skype for Business Cloud PBX, and we love how we’re able to mix and match Cloud PBX hybrid configurations with PSTN Calling plans. We have offices in dozens of countries—in some markets, it makes sense for us to use a local carrier, while in others it’s more cost-effective to pay per user. With the advanced Skype for Business features, we gain the flexibility to tap into both models and give employees high-quality communications services in a way that’s fiscally smart.

Even before we adopted the E5 suite, we knew using Office 365 helped us transform how we do business. We’ve brought colleagues closer together and made it easier to collaborate with our numerous outside production partners. We’ve exceeded employee expectations of a mobile, modern technology environment. And we’re looking forward to using E5 functionality to continue to build on our foundation of real-time communications and team collaboration increasing our global workforce’s ability to capture audiences with breakthrough content.

—Dave Duvall