Agile IT Microsoft Solution Blog

 Whether you’ve got 14,000 employees or four employees, allowing them to communicate with you and with each other is vital to success.  Kennametal found the answer in Office 365. We have seen countless stories of organizations in diverse industries upping their game with Office 365- whether they be in manufacturing and engineering, like Kennametal, or banks, non-profits, education, government.  Office 365 is right for so many industries. Contact Agile IT today to find out if it’s right for you.
Being a CIO is about more than just achieving benchmark performance and lowest costs for technology assets. I believe it’s really about collaborating with your business leaders to drive better overall results for the company. At Kennametal, we recognize the huge impact it makes on getting those results if we have the right people onboard, particularly when they work together.


But with nearly 14,000 employees in more than 60 countries, it can be challenging to find and connect the individuals who have the experience and insight needed in a given situation. We do our best to bring colleagues face to face when they’re working together on big projects and initiatives, but it isn’t always feasible to take people away from their families and other Kennametal responsibilities. That’s why we look for other ways to open paths of communication and foster close working relationships. We develop manufacturing products and solutions, and for an innovation-based company like ours, any way we can get people collaborating, brainstorming and sharing ideas is good.


That’s one of the reasons we adopted Microsoft Office 365. Our engineering teams use its functionality for videoconferencing, instant messaging and ad hoc conversations, and document collaboration—tools that give them the next-best thing to being there. Kennametal also has created a companywide intranet called the Hub, where our engineers, scientists and manufacturing technicians all access company news, get business intelligence about competitors, and participate in internal conversations using our Yammer enterprise social network. It’s a real game changer for us to be able to reach our 5,000 factory workers more directly. In the past, they had to find a kiosk in the factory if they wanted corporate information, but now they use their personal smartphones to access the Hub anytime. Available from anywhere because it’s based on Microsoft SharePoint Online, the Hub has strengthened the sense of community for our factory and corporate employees alike.


Recognizing the extensive knowledge and experience in our workforce, particularly among our engineers and materials scientists, we’re taking advantage of our new toolset to proactively capture and disseminate that knowledge and, ultimately, innovate faster. We use the Hub to track the areas of expertise among employees and share their information across teams and geographies and between our younger employees and those nearing retirement. We’ve asked our employees to fill out profiles about everything from the schools they’ve attended to the projects they’ve worked on. This makes the Hub a valuable knowledge management resource that supports both long-term collaboration and short-term problem solving. For example, when manufacturing technicians from around the company encounter an issue, they can check the Hub and to see who has the expertise to help, and they reach out to each other—their ability to collaborate is limited only by our imagination.


On the flip side, as we bring in younger employees, we want to meet their expectations of having access to just about everything at their fingertips. We believe that technology choices like Office 365 will help us attract and retain new talent to continue the Kennametal tradition of innovation.


This article excerpt, by Steve Hanna, originally appeared here:
 SharePoint Online is here to revolutionize the way you interact with your employees – and the way they interact with each other.  Studies show that when employees have a quick, reliable way of communicating with each other, they are more productive and tend to be better informed of the latest trends in their fields.  Let Agile IT show you what SharePoint can do for your organization – contact us today.
Employee engagement is about employees giving extra effort above and beyond regular job duties. But how many companies use technology to drive the engagement they so badly want and need?
Consider this. Technology can help you:
  • Get the most out of your employees.
  • Encourage collaboration and social interaction.
  • Connect disconnected workers.
  • Measure employee engagement.
Think about the lack of collaboration within the healthcare industry. Most providers have a mindset that if they aren’t right in front of a patient, they aren’t productive.

Imagine what nurses in one neurology unit could learn from those on the same unit in a sister hospital? Even the larger networks of facilities don’t facilitate this learning effectively.

Nurses increasingly use hand-held devices to communicate with each other, docs, and technicians. If you could provide them with mobile access to a community of nurses working in a similar discipline, what might they innovate? Would they like their jobs better?

Here are some more examples of how technology can help.

Employee Travel
Many probably already use online tools like TripAdvisor to make personal travel plans. What if they could share with fellow employees the tips and tricks that make business travel better? Let them post reviews of the contracted hotels in a city. Let them recommend places to eat. Get some champions to share key parts of the travel policy in the same community. You can also trend travel expenses. It may be possible to reduce travel expenses through this type of sharing.
Intranet News
For many years now intranet news has been a one-way push from the corporate communicators to employees. Making news a collaborative opportunity for any author opens the door to more interesting and meaningful content. Incorporating rating and sharing pushes it beyond the everyday network of users. The more value that employees gain, the more engaged they’ll be.

Ask employees to submit suggestions and ideas. True engagement occurs when you enable them to vote on ideas and track the winning ideas through feasibility study and implementation. This encourages more and more idea submissions and voting. The ROI can spiral into millions of dollars of savings, new business and productivity.

The Role of SharePoint
SharePoint can serve all of these needs. If you make strategic choices that support business goals, you can get employees more engaged with each other, the organization, and their work through a great SharePoint intranet.

This article excerpt, by Stacy Wilson, originally appeared here:
 As technology grows and changes, industries are forced to adapt.  The airline industry is a prime example of this, as many airlines merge, and more regional airlines pop up.  Read how one airline manages to stay ahead of the pack by utilizing Office 365.  Contact Agile IT today to ensure that you too are making use of the technology available to your business.
The airline industry has seen its share of turbulence over the last decade, as mega-airlines merge and acquire smaller players, more regional airlines take to the air, and customers aggressively seek online bargains. Finnair, Finland’s largest airline and the fifth-oldest airline in the world, has remained successful because it knows how to adapt and find smarter ways to operate.


In the face of many new low-cost air carriers springing up across Europe, Finnair still dominates both domestic and international air travel in Finland. “We have survived because we’ve been successful at keeping our costs under control, but we also understand that you can’t cut costs at the expense of customer satisfaction and employee effectiveness,” says Kari Hänninen, architect in Corporate Information Management for Finnair. “We have to compete for the best people, who want a modern work environment where they are valued and listened to.”


Gain rock-solid, spam-free email
Finnair decided to unplug its expensive email and file-share servers and throw away its mix of document-sharing tools. In their place, it gave employees subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365.


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


Finnair pilots, gate agents, mechanics and office staff now have anytime, any-device access to their email, which helps keep everyone on the same page. Office 365 filters all Finnair email for spam and malware to help keep communications more secure. “We switched from Postini to Exchange Online Protection (EOP), the Office 365 spam filtering technology, in just one day,” Hänninen says. “The EOP interface is familiar and easy to use and the filtering is excellent. We get rock-solid protection with financially backed service-level agreements. And because it’s part of Office 365, it’s more cost-effective to manage.” Finnair is able to easily create targeted email filtering rules for different roles.


Help employees find their voice
It’s easy for Finnair gate agents, cabin crew, and pilots to feel disconnected from decisions being made at headquarters. Employees use social networking capabilities built into Office 365 to participate in relevant conversations. “It’s very easy to get a snapshot of issues, to contribute, and to invite others to join a conversation,” Hänninen says. “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.”


Reduce costs by 15 percent
Although the benefits of bringing its workforce closer together have been far-reaching, the reality is that there would have been no refresh unless it had involved saving money. “With Office 365, we have eliminated recurring software upgrade costs and the extra cost of Postini,” Hänninen says. “Over six years, Office 365 will be 15 percent less expensive than maintaining our own email servers. Plus, paying for software as a per-user fee makes it much easier to predict and budget.”


This article excerpt, by Office 365 Team, originally appeared here:

Recruiting using social media is a growing trend in today’s world.  In 2010, for example, 6% of all companies used social media to attract talent.  In 2014, so far that number is 94%.  Millennials and recruiters are changing the recruiting industry together.  Is your organization keeping up?
Read more

 We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… Cloud computing and Office 365 are not just for the private sector.  Governmental agencies are slowly but surely making their way to the Cloud.  With the way technology advances, it is inefficient and costly to be operating on hosted or on-premises servers.  With a move to Office 365, governmental agencies are finding lower costs and new capabilities.  So whether your organization is in the public sector, private sector, non-profit or education, contact Agile IT today to arrange your free consultation and start planning your move to Office 365.


According to IDC, the federal government will spend $118.3 million on public cloud solutions in FY14, and more than $1.7 billion on private cloud solutions. The private cloud expenditure is slightly lower than it was in FY13, while the public cloud figure reflects an increase of about 33 percent. Looking ahead a few years, however, private cloud expenditures are expected to grow dramatically, reaching $7.7 billion by FY17.


The increase in cloud usage is prompted in large part by a policy change that began in the federal government several years ago. At the end of 2010, the Office of Management and Budget established the “Cloud First” policy as part of an IT reform plan.


The plan was designed to modernize federal IT systems on a number of fronts, including reducing the number of data centers and fixing or eliminating unsuccessful IT projects. As with the use of cloud technology in the private sector, the goal of transitioning to the cloud was to reduce costs and increase efficiency, agility and innovation.


Each agency was required to identify, within three months, three services that could be moved to the cloud, to move one of them to the cloud within a year and to move the other two within 18 months. Given the technological and administrative challenges involved, it is not surprising that many agencies fell short.


In a well-publicized report issued by the Government Business Council and Accenture in December 2013, only 30 percent of the federal executives surveyed indicated that they had cloud plans underway. A much smaller percent of respondents had actually transitioned any of their applications to the cloud.


Other milestones, including the June 5, 2014, deadline for agencies to certify their cloud systems with the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) also proved difficult to meet. Yet some agencies were successful, and those agencies that were able to launch cloud services are being rewarded with lower costs and new capabilities.


Numerous agencies—including the departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State and Treasury, as well as the General Services Administration—successfully met the initial requirement for identifying and deploying three cloud services.


In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) migrated to Microsoft Office 365, the cloud version of Microsoft’s productivity suite. In addition to fostering collaboration, the shift to the cloud is expected to save the agency $12 million over four years.


Two types of FedRAMP approval are available. One is through the Joint Authorization Board (JAB), which is the primary governance and decision-making body for the FedRAMP program. JAB provides Provisional Authorization to Operate (P-ATO) for cloud solutions, and approves accreditation criteria for third-party assessment organizations (3PAOs). JAB approvals can be used throughout the federal government. Companies can also seek agency-sponsored FedRAMP approvals, which are only valid for that agency.


In the Government Business Council/Accenture report, the largest single concern expressed by respondents related to security. As compliance with FedRAMP continues to take root, that unease may diminish, but it remains a concern in the government sector as it does in the private sector.


Another challenge is staffing. Only a third of the executives felt certain that their agency had the staff necessary to execute a transition to the cloud. Half were not sure if the length of the procurement process was having an impact on cloud adoption, but the majority of those who did know felt that it was having an adverse effect.


Contracting procedures are also in a state of flux. Agencies are accustomed to paying a specified dollar amount for a specified service, and “pay as you go” is not part of that model.
This article excerpt, by Judith Lamont, Ph.D., originally appeared here: 

We heard this exciting news from Microsoft and wanted to share it with you:

Our goal with OneDrive is to provide a single place for you to store and share all the files in your life, regardless of their number or size. That’s why we’re excited to make it possible for you to store larger files, get them into OneDrive more quickly, and share them easily.

Larger file support

As the first step toward ensuring our customers have ample space, we recently increased our free storage plan to 15 GB and the storage for Office 365 customers to 1 TB. We also dropped the prices of all our storage plans.

As a follow up, we’re excited to announce that you can now upload files up to 10 GB using the desktop apps for Windows and Mac, all of the mobile apps, and the OneDrive website! We recognized that people not only have more files than they did before, but they have bigger files as well. This is a top feature request we’ve received and we’re excited to deliver it!

We’re also working on enabling this for our business customers and we’ll let you know when it’s available.

Faster syncing

As part of our push to continue improving the OneDrive desktop experience, we’ve increased the number of files that can be downloaded or uploaded at a given time on PCs and Macs. In internal tests, this parallel syncing netted an approximately threefold increase in syncing speed. Our performance enhancements have begun rolling out and will be available worldwide in the coming weeks.

Easier sharing straight from Windows Explorer

We are thrilled to deliver another top feature request that gives people who use Windows 7 and 8 the ability to quickly get links to content in their OneDrive folder without needing to go to the web. By simply right-clicking the item or items you’d like to share, you’ll see a “Share a OneDrive link” option that will create a sharing link and add it to your Clipboard. From there, you can paste it directly into an email, IM, or other message. This feature has begun rolling out to OneDrive on Windows 7 and 8 and will be available worldwide within a few weeks. We’ll update you as this becomes available on Windows 8.1 and Mac.

Folder uploads via

While today’s announcements mostly feature improvements to the desktop experience, there’s one more popular feature request we received for the OneDrive website. We’re pleased to announce that today we’re releasing the ability for you to drag folders directly into from browsers where folder dragging/dropping is supported (specifically Google Chrome).

We hope you are as excited by these improvements to OneDrive as we are. As always, please feel free to provide feedback on any features you’d love to see!

This article written by Jason Moore, Group Program Manager, OneDrive, and re-published with permission.  To view the original article, click here.


Office 365 isn’t solely for for-profit businesses.  Non-profits, education, and government can also greatly benefit from a move to the Cloud.  The American Cancer Society, one of the US’s largest non-profits, estimates that it will save $1.5 million this year alone, just because of a switch to Office 365.  If you’ve been waiting to make the move to Office 365, now is the time to act.  Start saving today- contact Agile IT for your free consultation with one of our Cloud Migration Experts.

The American Cancer Society is a community-based grassroots organization. We have people in thousands of communities around the country who are dedicated to our mission to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. That’s one of the things that make us so special: Wherever people are impacted by cancer—that’s where you’ll find us. In fact, extending a human touch is the essence of our research, fundraising, and outreach efforts, which are all about working together to save lives.


While the grassroots nature of our organization is the foundation of our success, it also has a downside. Over the 100 years of our existence, we had evolved into an organization with 11 divisions plus our headquarters in Atlanta. Before we moved to Microsoft Office 365, each division operated differently, using its own business processes and technology stacks. And, while many of our fundraising and mission delivery programs were the same, the way they were run was completely different. One example is our Relay For Life® program—one of the largest fundraising events in the world. Each division hosts a Relay For Life program in its region, but local offices used distinct processes, reporting tools, and collateral, in addition to varied communication and collaboration technologies.


At the American Cancer Society, we pride ourselves on spending as much of our donor dollars as possible on lifesaving programs and research, but our organizational structure had become an inefficient use of funds. Our staff members were struggling, too. Because people were wrestling with their communication and collaboration tools, they had less time for connecting with patients, constituents, donors, and volunteers.


On the IT side, we had nearly 200 physical servers across the country that supported Lotus Notes. Our technology was loosely cobbled together, difficult to support, and cost prohibitive for the organization. About two years ago, we decided to consolidate our business practices across the 11 divisions and headquarters. Our challenge was to gain the benefits of working as one entity while retaining the grassroots, personal touch that is our hallmark. We evaluated the marketplace and looked at multiple solutions. It quickly became clear that Office 365 was the right choice.


We now have a cloud-based communication solution that integrates with all our devices. Our Office 365 solution has completely changed the landscape of our work environment. For example, my team now uses Microsoft Lync Online for our weekly meetings, and we can easily include key members from across the country. We use Office 365 to collaborate on spreadsheets, documents, and Microsoft Project files, and team members share desktops so we can review information that ensures we’re on schedule and budget. I’m also more productive now. When I need to speak to colleagues in the field, I can quickly see who is available, start a meeting, and receive expert feedback immediately.


In terms of costs—specifically hardware, software, maintenance, and renewals—we’re going to save about [U.S.]$1.5 million year after year. That’s a lot of money that we can now channel into lifesaving programs.


Office 365 has also reduced our risk. The IT team is the guardian of proprietary cancer research data and complex financial information for the entire American Cancer Society organization. I feel comfortable now knowing that I have a world-class resource behind me to help keep our information secure. By using Office 365, we’ve transferred the responsibility for data security to Microsoft. They can manage and maintain it better, faster, and cheaper than we can.


The future looks even more exciting. In the summer of 2014, we’ll be rolling out two more Office 365 features that will save us even more time and money. Our worldwide coalition of partners will soon be able to take advantage of the federation capabilities provided in Lync Online. Connecting with partners across this communications platform will be an excellent opportunity to extend our knowledge and expertise on a global scale.


For more information, read the American Cancer Society case study.


This article excerpt, by Jay Ferro, originally appeared here:
 Cloud computing isn’t just for large-scale, enterprise organizations.  More and more small businesses are moving to the cloud, and enjoying the greater flexibility and freedom of movement that cloud computing offers.  With Office 365, you really can work from anywhere, anytime.  Contact Agile IT today to get started in the cloud, and never again be fettered by the confines of an office.
The co-owner of a small Florida-based company was about to have a baby so she sought a more flexible way to run her business.
She found the answer in cloud computing technology.
Julia Suriano, co-owner of Kebroak BBQ Company, a 7-person operation that imports and distributes charcoal to retailers and restaurants across the country, needs access to company information quickly and from anywhere.
“I may be with my kids but while I’m at their tennis practice, I can access my client information and make decisions and get information to people working in the office,” Suriano told Computerworld.
Kebroak BBQ is one of the many small businesses that are making the move to cloud.
According to a recent Emergent Research study, 74% of small businesses (companies with less than 50 employees) report using some cloud-based applications – most commonly email, online banking and social media.
As the gradual start grows, Emergent expects that the cloud computing will change how small businesses operate by 2020.
A lot of small business owners and managers have the same misgivings – mainly security and uptime – as their enterprise counterparts. At the same time, Emergent’s survey of 500 small business executives in June found that 37% are completely or very confident in the cloud.
That means 63% are not so confident.
“Even though they’re using the cloud, most of them still aren’t comfortable with it,” said Steven King, an Emergent partner and analyst. “When you start talking about putting your financials in the cloud – the systems you rely on – that’s when they cite security and downtime fears. That’s the point where they’re not comfortable with the cloud yet.”
Suriano said she hasn’t had any trouble with cloud outages or security issues but she has warned employees to be careful when storing information from outside of the office.
However, she said that warning employees to be cautious is a small price to pay for the benefits of cloud computing.
“I think there are more benefits than risks,” Suriano said.
King predicts that Suriano’s attitude toward cloud computing should quickly spread to other small business owners.
“The big shift to the cloud is going to give them efficiency – cheaper, faster and easier access to tools and applications,” he said. “If you’re a small business, you could have a customer relationship management system on your own server but that needs to be installed, maintained and supported. If you do that in the cloud, all of that work goes away so it becomes cheaper and easier to manage and install.”
That means small companies will have a better chance to take on not only other small competitors, but larger businesses as well.
“Looking at startups and the one- and two-man shops, the cloud is a godsend because then they don’t have to invest in buying servers and getting that IT infrastructure in place to launch or run their business,” said Jagdish Rebello, an analyst at IHS iSuppli. “They can host all of that on the cloud and put their focus on their business and not on IT.”
“They’re already starting to move a lot of their own applications and services to the cloud,” he added. “It will make smaller businesses more nimble and efficient. I think you’ll see businesses change the way they operate.”
This article excerpt, by Sharon Gaudin, originally appeared here:
 It often seems that in order for our information to be secure, we must keep it in an on-premises server (and back it up to an off-site hard drive?).  While this may have been true years ago, the technology and trends of today are showing that this is outdated thinking.  Recently, we’ve had more and more banks moving over to the cloud, in an attempt to stay ahead of the technology curve and gain advantage over their competitors.  While banking in the cloud is certainly more prevalent in Europe, it is catching on in the United States.  Be ahead of the curve- contact Agile IT today to get started in the cloud. Read more