This article was first published in the Summer 2014 issue of Finance on Windows
Standard Life is one of the UK’s leading providers of savings, pensions and investment products. While 6,500 of its employees work in the UK, a further 2,500 are based in locations around the world. In recent years, the organisation has explored new global business models that provide a consolidated working environment for employees, regardless of their location.
The Digital Workplace strategy is central to this. It’s a long-term plan for IT that promotes an always-connected working environment and breaks down the traditional barriers of communication. Sandy Begbie, group operations officer at Standard Life, says: “We wanted to enhance our services in other parts of the world such as Asia and North America. To do this, we needed an infrastructure that could support collaboration among employees no matter where they’re based and accelerate business growth.”
Over the years, Standard Life deployed a variety of systems, which didn’t integrate with its Microsoft Office applications or other existing systems, and were expensive and inefficient to manage and upgrade. While individual deployments resolved issues for some departments, they rarely accommodated all areas of the business. In addition, Financial Services Authority regulations around data security require banks to invest in up-to-date, supported technologies.
The firm aimed to increase the productivity of its employees while keeping costs down. Standard Life decided to deploy a Microsoft technology suite designed to enhance information worker productivity. “Microsoft is the best fit for us. It offers industry-standard solutions and familiar tools, which will enhance the way we interact with our colleagues and customers,” says Paul Chong, group IT and commercial director at Standard Life. “The Microsoft roadmap also has a strong connection with the cloud, which aligns with our own IT strategy.”
The Accenture-Avanade-Microsoft alliance is working with Standard Life on its Digital Workplace transformation programme, including the migration of 8,000 employees from IBM solutions to Microsoft technologies. In time, the company plans to integrate these with Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud through Microsoft Azure, but for now has deployed the Office 2010 suite of applications, supported by the Windows 7 operating system.
Tools within Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 help multiple teams review and edit documents without risk of duplication and encourage collaboration through discussion boards. Meanwhile, users can create surveys to collate feedback that will help improve business processes.
Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 replaces IBM Notes to offer users secure management of e-mails, calendar and contacts across various devices. Global teams can now work together effectively with Microsoft Lync 2010. It integrates with the organisation’s telephone system and gives users control of communications from their computers, offering clear voice-over-IP calls and video conferencing. It synchronises contact lists and status updates with Microsoft Outlook 2010 so employees can initiate instant messages, calls and e-mails.
“For the first time, Standard Life has a global solution that means we can devise innovative new products and release them quickly,” says Chong. “Microsoft technologies support our Digital Workplace strategy, helping us improve our services and meet customer needs.”