Finnair cuts communication costs with Microsoft Office 365

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 24 September 2014
Finnair cuts communication costs with Microsoft Office 365

Finnair, Finland’s largest airline, has improved customer service, increased employee productivity and cut communication costs by 15% after implementing Microsoft Office 365.

Working in collaboration with the Finnish airline, Microsoft Services Consulting helped to deploy prepare roll out Office 365 and provision the services.

Finnair’s employees are located across the world in various offices, airports and airplanes, which often made it difficult for them to communicate and share information and documents easily. To reduce its operating budget while providing employees with modern communication tools, Finnair replaced its expensive e-mail and file-share servers and its document-sharing tools with Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions for each employee.

“Before we had all kinds of older tools that didn’t talk to one another and couldn’t be used to communicate with partners,” said Kari Hänninen, architect in corporate information management for Finnair. “We wanted to empower employees to solve problems faster, help customers at every point, and contribute their ideas.

He added: “We ran a small pilot programme of Google Docs, but Google doesn’t work well with Office, which all employees use, and its pricing model is not that great. Microsoft had a far stronger federated enterprise solution, better support, a more convincing story around total cost, and a more enterprise-ready, innovative solution.”

Now, Finnair pilots, gate agents, mechanics, and office staff now have any-time, any-device access to their e-mail accounts, while Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) filters all spam and malware to ensure communications remain secure. The airline can also create targeted e-mail filtering rules for different employees in different roles.

“We switched from Postini to EOP, the Office 365 spam filtering technology, in just one day,” said Hänninen. “The EOP interface is familiar, easy to use, and the filtering is excellent. We get rock-solid protection with financially backed service-level agreements. Plus, because it’s part of Office 365, it’s more cost-effective to manage.”

In addition, Finnair’s employees can use Microsoft Lync Online to contact one another via instant message, phone or video call; initiate group conversations in Yammer; store personal work documents in OneDrive for Business; and share team documents in SharePoint Online.

In addition, many of Finnair’s pilots use laptops to access Electronic Flight Deck (EFD) documentation – information about the plane load, flight calculations, maps, and aircraft service history – while in the cockpit. As well as replacing these laptops with lightweight Panasonic Touchpad tablets running on Windows 8.1, the airline will soon enable pilots and cabin crew to access Office 365 services. This will enable pilots to communicate with the control tower and with other air crew while on the tarmac to better understand the situation on the ground.

“It’s very easy to get a snapshot of issues, to contribute, and to invite others to join a conversation,” Hänninen said. “If you have something to contribute that could help the business, now you can. It really helps people feel that they are heard and also helps them get the information they need to make better decisions.”

Meanwhile, as part of the Oneworld airline alliance, Finnair employees often need to work with partner airlines to reroute passengers when schedules are interrupted due to bad weather, technical issues, or other unforeseen circumstances. In the past, employees resolved these issues via phone calls, which often meant that passengers were forced to wait for long periods of time between flights. Now, Finnair’s customer service agents use the Office 365 conferencing and chat service to send instant messages to partners to ensure that passengers are rerouted as swiftly as possible. Soon, Finnair will also be able to communicate with partner airlines using Office 365.

Hänninen said. “We are now more proactive and have new connections ready for passengers when they step off a flight, instead of waiting for passengers to seek out a customer service desk.”

Over the next six years, Finnari expects to make significant costs savings with Office 365. “With Office 365, we have eliminated recurring software upgrade costs and the extra cost of Postini,” Hänninen said. “Over six years, Office 365 will be 15% less expensive than maintaining our own e-mail servers. Plus, paying for software as a per-user fee makes it much easier to predict and budget.”

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