Microsoft Office 365 Customer Solution Case Study
Events and catering company uses cloud-based collaboration tools to help wow guests
Whether customers want an elaborate wedding reception or a circus-themed corporate event, VT Group makes it happen. The Portland, Oregon–based event planning and catering company uses Microsoft Office 365 to keep 300 employees working in harmony to stage events that wow customers and keep them coming back for more.
Product and Services
Medium (50 - 999 employees)
“By using Office 365, events go off without a hitch. That means we get repeat business.”
Steve Mitchell, VT Group, IT and Facilities Manager
Working with KAMIND IT, a Microsoft Partner Network member, the VT Group has equipped employees with a flexible suite of communications tools that lets them stay in touch from anywhere, anytime, from any device. Planners, kitchen staff, event managers, and servers use cloud-based email, instant messaging, and document-sharing to create great ideas, execute them to a tee, and solve glitches immediately. With the Office 365 “pay as you use” pricing model, VT Group shrinks and expands its licenses to match its seasonal business, saving money that it can redirect to expanding its business and amazing customers.
“Making the move to Office 365 was pretty much a no-brainer. I have better employee satisfaction with the tools that we have, I’ve expanded my service offerings, reduced costs, and we’re more efficient with the resources that I have.”
Steve Mitchell, VT Group, IT and Facilities Manager
Sports apparel designer gears up for mobile productivity with Office 365
“As the global IT Manager, I need to be able to react quickly from wherever I am, be it on the slopes, the trails, or the beach. Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services give me that flexibility.”
Nic Richards, IT Manager, Dakine
Customer Size: 150 employees
Country or Region: United States
Partner: KAMIND IT
Partner Website: www.kamind.com
Based in Hood River, Oregon, Dakine designs and manufactures accessories and apparel for the action sports industry, including: skiing, snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, windsurfing, and kiteboarding
Software and Services
- Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft Exchange Online
- Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus
- Microsoft OneDrive for Business
- Microsoft SharePoint Online
- Skype for Business
Dakine, maker of accessories and apparel for action sports, needed new business technology that matched the expectations of its mobile workforce—and chose Microsoft Office 365. Today, Dakine employees use the cloud-based communication and collaboration services to stay connected with the business, driving productivity while minimizing IT infrastructure costs.
It’s a crisp, clear day on the slopes of Mt. Hood Meadows and Nic Richards is “shredding pow.” Snowboarding on powder may not sound like work, but in a way it is. For the IT Manager and many of his colleagues at Dakine, using the company’s gear and participating in the “Dakine lifestyle” is actively encouraged. The more that employees use the products that Dakine designs, manufactures, and markets, the better.
According to Richards, the company is getting back to its roots after it was sold by Billabong to Altamont Capital Partners in 2013. Moving from the bustling Hood River downtown area to a beautiful polished pine, glass, and steel headquarters helped augment that transition. With panoramic views of the Columbia River and Mt. Hood’s iconic volcanic cone, it’s easy to see why Dakine staffers never really stop building brand allegiance: at work and at play.
The last couple of years also provided an opportunity for Richards to redefine the company’s approach to business technology.
“I wanted to find business productivity solutions that reflect our corporate culture: people are laid back here, but dedicated,” says Richards. “We expect to work when and where we need to—on the slopes, the trails, or the beach. We use Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based services to reinforce those values, underlying what makes Dakine’s culture unique.”
Office 365 offers interoperable communication and collaboration services—email, file sharing, online collaboration, 1 terabyte of cloud storage, instant messaging (IM), and videoconferencing.
Enhanced mobility is good news for the one-third of Dakine’s employees who spend a lot of time out of the office. On any day, Dakine staffers can be found visiting any one of thousands of retailers around the world, filming a surf video on the beaches of Oahu, or reviewing production at a manufacturing plant in China—and they are all using Office 365 to stay in touch with colleagues, get work done, and communicate with the head office.
“We leverage the video and audio conferencing tools of Skype for Business to better collaborate and stay in real-time contact with our teams around the world. And virtual teams with members at headquarters and our office in Annecy-le-Vieux, France, use videoconferences to review SKUs and product ideas,” says Richards. I like the anywhere access I get from OneDrive for Business too. If I get an email about a document that needs editing, I can download it from the online storage, make the edits, and send a link back to my colleague to check out the updated version, wherever I happen to be working.”
“In finance, we frequently IM with the various teams, especially sales. It’s a vital communication tool while working remotely and an integral part of daily life inside the offices as well,” adds Lauren Simpson, Vice President of Special Projects.
As more employees take advantage of being able to download the latest, full versions of Office applications on up to five computing devices, mobile workplace scenarios will increase. Office 365 ProPlus includes a version for Macs and iPads, so even the folks who design on their Macs are covered.
“I know finance staffers are installing Office at home to work in the evenings,” says Richards. “It’s easy to save your work in the cloud and pick it up again when you get to the office the next morning.”
As one of the only two members of the IT department at Dakine, Richards was keen to find a solution that would simplify his life managing the company’s technology. Working with KAMIND IT, a Microsoft Partner Network member, Richards planned the Office 365 deployment as a scalable, flexible, and quick “exit strategy” from the Billabong on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server mail solution. And from the outset, he’s been happy with the cost-effective, timesaving benefits of a cloud-based solution.
“We saved approximately [US]$100,000 by not having to purchase software and hardware for our own on-premises Exchange solution,” Richards says. “And with the expert assistance of KAMIND IT, we achieved a pretty smooth inbox migration from Billabong’s servers to Exchange Online.”
For IT staff, the solution’s ease of use is a great time saver, especially as the company is growing quickly and adding new staff.
“I love that the ongoing management of Office 365 and signing up users is super easy,” says Richards. “Before Office 365, it could take one or two days to equip a new employee with email—now I’m done in just five minutes.”
Fast customer service
Customer service staff are also experiencing timesaving benefits that translate into more responsive service. Today, they no longer have to put callers on hold while they look for answers to product queries. That’s because they are using the presence and IM capabilities that come with Office 365 to quickly find a colleague who can help. “We have reduced the average time to answer a customer query by 30 percent,” says Richards.
Looking ahead, Dakine intends to use Microsoft SharePoint Online to build stronger relationships with its retailers.
“We have a lot of products and a lot of marketing media available. It would be great to allow approved e-commerce vendors to visit a Dakine intranet site where they could search for product pictures and videos for their websites,” says Richards. “I can already think of a few other areas Office 365 could help out too. The opportunities seem endless.”