What to Do With Office 365: 3 Companies Go to the Cloud

What to Do With Office 365: 3 Companies Go to the Cloud

Cloud meets cycles, screwdrivers, and students

Microsoft hyped Office 365 (at least to this industry observer) so much at SPC14 that it seems what we have to look forward to is becoming Office admins and Office developers. Still, it was interesting to hear the totally-positive-and-everything-negative-left-out stories of the three organizations Microsoft brought in to tell about their Office 365 (and SharePoint) experiences: Trek Bicycle Corporation (Trek), Stanley Black & Decker (SBD), and Shireland Collegiate Academy (Shireland).

Each organization has a different mission, size, culture, and each has its own particular needs when it comes to SharePoint and Office 365. To talk about them, Microsoft arranged a panel consisting of Trek Technology Director Steve Novoselac, SBD e-Delivery Manager Chris Teer, and Shireland Assistant Principal Alan Crawford with BFC Networks Managing Director Alex Pearce.

What they’re running:

  • Both Trek and SBD are on SharePoint 2013 and Office 365.
  • Trek is using SharePoint Online and Lync Online and OneDrive Pro.
  • SBD is in the process of rolling out OneDrive for Business for various teams, via Office 365.
  • Shireland is on Office 365 for Education.

How many people:

  • Trek has 1,600 employees and recently also bought a globally disbursed cycling team.
  • SBD has 40,000 employees.
  • Shireland has 1,000 students, 200 staff, plus student parents.

BYOD or no BYOD:

  • Trek has a variety of options, with policies in place for those who hook their own up to the company’s services.
  • SBD has policies in place for phone lockdowns/wipes.
  • Shireland has no BYOD and provides Windows 8 tablets for its students.

Tech plans for the near future:

  • Trek is looking into Power BI and hoping to move legacy BI to Office 365 and to move sites to SharePoint Online.
  • SBD has “over 20” separate intranets due to acquisitions and hopes to consolidate them on SharePoint 2013; it’s exploring how to roll out Yammer.
  • Shireland is looking to let students develop apps on Office 365, have a Student of the Month site, and put a prayer app up for students.

Here are three quick lessons we learned from listening in.

#1: Make cloud fit your use case, not the other way around.

“It wasn’t the idea of the cloud that moved us but access to e-learning,” Alan Crawford, Shireland Collegiate Academy assistant principal said. “It’s the learning. If it proves it helps student learning, it’s easier to justify.”

The school is fully on Office 365 for Education. Students use team sites to collaborate for class, Office Web Apps, and a student portal. Parents also have a portal (which they can access even if they don’t have an Office 365 account).

For Trek, it was cost and security that attracted the company. Security objections by c-level execs were calmed when they scheduled a visit to a Microsoft datacenter and compared the level of security there to the level Trek could provide on its own. As well, Trek bought a racing team, with riders scattered all over the world, so the email provided by Office 365 was also a draw.

#2: When considering the cloud, expect IT pushback.

Two of the organizations mentioned IT pushback. “There are IT pros that are unsure. They are going to do everything they can to prevent moving to the cloud. There are some people that get it, but there’s a lot of pushback,” Trek’s Novoselac said. One way to deal with it was to get practical--asking 'Give me a thousand VMs for five hours, then turn it down' quickly showed limitations of on-premises deployments for Trek.

#3: Approach social features carefully—they are powerful.

For one organization, adoption of social features was viral. “It snowballed with the staff—one person invited another, and half an hour later there were 90 on it” Shireland Collegiate’s Crawford said. “Our big thing is how we can govern Yammer.” He noted that the school has not turned on Yammer for students, at least not yet. How and whether it does so will depend heavily on governance plans.

But it’s not just education verticals where Yammer is looked at with some trepidation. “Social scared us on two levels,” SBD’s Teer said. “Corporate and licensing. We originally had a SharePoint social feed, and are introducing social in a structured way. It’s getting us ready to go down that social path.” Although in the future they see social features going viral in the company, for now, to get social, users must open a ticket with IT.

And what about you? What lessons have you learned in your experience around SharePoint 2013, SharePoint Online, and Office 365? Drop us an email at [email protected] and be sure to follow us on Twitter @sharepoint_pro. We'd like to learn about what you're using and what you're doing in SharePoint--cloud, on-prem, or hybrid!

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