Microsoft: Saving $250 Million a year by putting Employees on 4GEE
With the widespread availability of 4G connectivity and the recent UK flexible working legislation, a large proportion of UK business has already witnessed how allowing staff to work flexibly and remotely offers numerous commercial benefits.
Many employers now recognise that flexible working doesn’t purely involve granting ‘working from home’ privileges.
The most progressive of these see a truly mobile workforce as a means to improving productivity and reducing a range of fixed costs, whilst allowing staff to choose their location based on the work that has to be delivered on any given day. Those businesses recognise that flexible working offers a strategic opportunity to increase profits, rather than just functioning as an employee perk.
At Microsoft we’ve been making strides in this direction for some time. Central to our approach to a mobilised workforce has been our use of 4G, in partnership with EE, to banish landlines and remove employee reliance on email.
This has saved employees time and created cost savings for the business, by using the company’s own Lync app over 4G – a solution for online chat, video conferencing, desktop sharing, presence, and enterprise voice.
Having mobilised our UK workforce of around 3,000 users with 4GEE we are now looking to use Lync as part of our wider IT strategy to re-imagine the world of work by rethinking the nature of work in terms of when, where and how people work.
Lync running on 3G just wasn’t fast enough for us to make the most out of it. With the superfast data speeds and greater reliability that 4G affords, we’ve been able to use Lync to its full potential, and as a result, we’re saving at least 30 minutes per employee per day, plus US$250 million annually worldwide on infrastructure and travel, using this single app alone.
Before 4G adoption, employees would use Lync infrequently from their phones. Now, it’s used daily. Some people don’t come to the office at all - they don’t need to. Lync is so feature-rich that employees can set up a meeting within minutes and enable people to attend wherever they’re located across the globe. B
Mobility tactics like the use of Lync are part of our ‘Business Reimagined’ vision and desire to create a ‘is about rethinking when, where and how our people work, and our people are judged on output, not whether they’re still at their desks into the late evening.
Like most effective flexible working methodologies, the vision is founded on enabling people to work wherever they want, as effectively as if they were in the office. This concept also extends to engaging customers through mobile devices and connecting systems together so information flows more freely around the organisation.
All businesses, regardless of their size or industry sector, must act quickly to seize the vast opportunities offered by the mobile revolution - increasing efficiency and unshackling staff from unproductive legacy working practices. There are still too many firms that need to move away from the archaic ‘bums-on-seats’ mind set and start to measure output by what employees achieve, rather than hours worked or the period for which they are physically present.
It’s a revolution that has the power to free information, empower staff, improve customer engagement, boost productivity and make businesses more agile; but embracing the concept of mobility is a crucial first step to achieving it.
The ultimate goal is what EE refers to as ‘Total Enterprise Mobility: where all the information you need can flow freely between the people and machines that need it, regardless of where they are.
As digital transformation and the ‘tech evolved workplace’ become essential components of overarching business strategy, mobilising – and reimagining – your workforce is critical in staying competitive in an age of highly flexible and agile competition.
By Andy Gitsham, head of IT for Microsoft in the UK
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”