Irish Chemical Company reduces costs with Microsoft Office 365

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14 July 2014 | 0

This case study was provided by Microsoft.

Irish chemical company Carbon Group manufactures and distributes industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals, as well as food ingredients and coatings products. To implement a key element of its five-year strategic plan and continue expansion, the organisation wanted to find a way for its three offices and 60 employees to communicate more effectively.

The company turned to IT solutions provider Compunet for help, who recommended Microsoft Office 365, an online service uniting familiar Microsoft Office applications with e-mail, calendar, collaboration, and communication solutions. Carbon Group made the switch to Office 365 and never looked back. With faster access to information and significantly improved connectivity, the business is able to make better-and smarter-decisions that support its customers, and its continued growth.

Though quite adept at delivering acids, enzymes and lactases to suit its customers’ needs, Carbon Group needed a more effective way to coordinate its internal operations.

“The whole range of products – from SharePoint Online to Lync Online and the integration with Microsoft Office – is so far ahead of Google Apps that there’s really no comparison.”

For mobile sales professionals, immediate access to critical information was hindered by the company’s virtual private network (VPN). When accessing product specifications or insurance documents for customers while out in the field, salespeople had to stop what they were doing, dial into the VPN, wait for a secure connection and then search their e-mail inboxes for the necessary files.

“We had a small, archaic server in Belfast that wasn’t particularly reliable,” says Aiden Brady, the company’s group finance director. “Waiting for a connection was a waste of time-and it was a pain for both our employees and customers.”

Technical inadequacies also hampered the organisation’s ability to efficiently make sound decisions. Multi-party discussions took place most frequently over the telephone, and stakeholders could not participate as fully as they would like. “It just wasn’t convenient to meet,” Brady says. “Usually by the time we managed to round up the key players, time was critical and we’d have to make important decisions faster than we’d like.”

Solutions
Despite the IT challenges, Carbon Group continued to grow, having acquired four business over 11 years and delivering quality products and services to customers. Yet this expansion raised new complications.

“We were probably facing the cost of a new server to manage these acquisitions and bring on new employees,” says Brady. “But we wanted to avoid those upfront costs of an on-premises solution-which could add up to €40,000 and still require maintenance and upgrades over time.”

Carbon Group leaders researched alternatives to an on-premises solution, hoping that a more cost-effective solution could address their needs. “We looked into Google Apps, but it just didn’t provide the business features we needed, like the capacity for online meetings,” Brady explains.

Instead, the company opted to transition to Microsoft Office 365, a suite that unites familiar Microsoft Office applications into one powerful, connected, online solution. “The whole range of products-from SharePoint Online to Lync Online and the integration with Microsoft Office-is so far ahead of Google Apps that there’s really no comparison,” says Brady. “Since everyone in the company was already familiar with the Microsoft interface, they found Office 365 easy and intuitive to use.”

SharePoint Online gives employees-including the company’s 15 traveling salespeople – anywhere access to important files. “Gone are the days when we relied solely on emails to relay information,” Brady says.

“We can access information through the cloud from our laptops or mobile devices and that improves our response times to customer inquiries.”

“The connectivity, simplicity, and predictable monthly costs is reason enough to make the switch, but our Office 365 subscription also includes upgrades to the latest products.”

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