Embracing a cloud-based solution for increased staff productivity
Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs in South Africa, Namibia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
Virgin Active needed to reduce the total cost of ownership of its email. In doing so, it would lay the foundation for cloud-based productivity applications across the business.
This approach would enable the organisation to position itself as a digital workspace. And being a people-centric business, part of this strategy entails taking its employees along the transformational road.
“Our intent was to optimise our licensing costs around productivity applications. Additionally, we wanted to reduce the cost of our Microsoft licensing across the diverse user base at the organisation,” says Richard Bailey, IT director at Virgin Active.
Its medium-term objective is focused on making sure that the investments made in the new Office 365 portfolio would make financial sense as well as identify ways to further improve efficiencies in the digital landscape.
Virgin Active worked closely with Microsoft systems integrator NBConsult to ensure the project was done in a timely and cost-effective manner.
The initial phase focused on email in the cloud that provided a platform for end-users to go into the Office 365 experience. Wherever possible, Virgin Active made use of the Office 365 security features to ensure the integrity of data was maintained.
“We were confident that the project could be turned around within two days and not six weeks as was stated by another solutions provider. This is not the first time we are embarking on a project of this scale and have a rapid deployment model to meet with client expectations,” says Nicholas Blank, founder of NBConsult.
He says the support received from Virgin Active in enabling the teams to work well together was a differentiator on the project.
“We spent time with their team to really figure out the core DNA of the business and how to use IT as an enabler for them. Virgin Active wanted an approach that had to be customer requirement-driven and not one based on features,” he says.
While the primary driver behind the implementation was to lower cost and begin decommissioning the on-premise solutions, Blank says the project also assisted Virgin Active initiate a cultural change towards the cloud.
“Even though the client has attested to simplifying administration with Office 365, it is now able to benefit from an evergreen service that is available on any client or browser globally. There is now a standard end-user experience across devices,” he says.
This means that the IT support burden is reduced. Already, Virgin Active has been able to reduce the number of on-premise services by 75 percent and has right-sized its user workloads.
According to Bailey, these business benefits which resulted in a decreased reliance on physical infrastructure has been a proof point that the organisation can use an international cloud provider for its business requirements.
“We have significantly reduced the support burden on our internal people which now lets them focus on supporting business systems that add value to our customers. The migration is unlocking efficiencies that frees up the capacity of our team,” says Bailey.
“Office 365 has enabled the customer to experience significant change in the business for a very small cost. It has also seen the internal satisfaction levels for IT improve markedly over the previous implementation,” adds Blank.
“Such has been the success of the project that we are already working with Microsoft to move the Virgin Active on-premise customer relationship management system to the cloud within the next 24 months.” – Richard Bailey, IT Director, Virgin Active.