Reliable and Flexible Microsoft Cloud Products for Business Teams

Allison L. Radecki, CIO, Beam Suntory
Allison L. Radecki, CIO, Beam Suntory

Allison L. Radecki, CIO, Beam Suntory

Microsoft Solutions for Business Processes

Beam Suntory is targeting a very aggressive growth strategy as the world’s third largest spirits company. We aim to take business from $4+ billion in sales to $10 billion by 2020. To do this, all areas of the organization must be focused on fueling growth with greater efficiency and enhanced productivity. Beam Suntory’s IT team is contributing to its growth agenda by continually evaluating our technologies and partnerships, and making sure they are aligned with their business objectives.

As an example of this work, in the summer of 2013, we decided to implement the Office 365 product suite to improve the reliability and flexibility of email, collaboration tools and reduce the overhead and costs required to manage and maintain servers and infrastructure.

With this technology, the company’s IT teams now uses Microsoft cloud products to greater enable its business teams. We use SharePoint as the platform for our global intranet, which has significantly increased collaboration within the company and with external partners. The file sharing feature,OneDrive, allows sharing documents – both internally and externally – with improved security and control. Globally deploying the instant messaging service Lynch as made working together easier with chat, screen sharing, video and voice capabilities. Outlook has also benefited from running in the O365 environment with improved uptime and reliability, and the Azure cloud has afforded our company flexible and fast solution development.

Surprises of Microsoft Solutions Implementation

Be sure you and your teams are prepared to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Using the cloud-based solutions will require your people to adopt new offerings and updates as they come. If you fail to focus on change management and adoption, your workforce could become frustrated with ever-evolving technology.

Innovations Established on Microsoft platform

Using the SharePoint platform,we deployed CONNECT by Beam Suntory as an e-learning and brand engagement site available for all employees, distributors and trading partners. This application is a branded, industry-first communications portal with one goal in mind: to increase brand engagement by providing a one-stop shop for professional development resources, brand education and selling materials. The company launched this application in August of 2014 and have over 13,000 users from 40 countries, who are leveraging the platform. The platform has helped Beam Suntory promote and educate its sales partners to ensure that our products are top of mind during sales calls to enhance revenue growth.

"Microsoft Office keeps the company’s workforce productive and modern using all of the newest tools and features"

Lessons learned

Implementing the Microsoft O365 suite resulted in a significant reduction of the company’s infrastructure, requiring our IT workforce to shift their focus from managing hardware to employing new software solutions. Office 365 provides Software as a Service – core tools are implemented instead of developed. This new way of working gives Beam Suntory’s IT teams the opportunity to collaborate closely with business partners helping them implement and facilitate technology changes within the organization.

For fellow CIOs

Beam Suntory has made tremendous strides in enhancing its business capabilities since transitioning to Microsoft O365. Windows Azure allows for flexible and scalable solution deployment – a key factor, since we have a number of solutions running in the Azure cloud, including distributor facing resources, customer facing brand sites and internally deployed custom solutions. Microsoft Office keeps the company’s workforce productive and modern using all of the newest tools and features. SharePoint affords our teams the flexibility to collaborate on small and large scales. Beam Suntory’s SharePoint-based intranet site is the heartbeat of our global organization,used to drive employee engagement with timely news and information and social networking capability.

Avoiding Errors while Implementing

I can’t stress enough the shift in focus you’ll need to prepare your IT organization for. Your team will need to anticipate new technologies, which means you might have to invest in their learning and capabilities. If adequate focus is not placed on organizational change management and adoption, your workforce could become frustrated with ever-evolving technology. One key to our success has been to make sure we are partnering with our business units when deploying new technology. These partnerships have proved essential as sharing the responsibility has ultimately increased adoption.

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