Tag Archives: Customer Stories

Homegrown Trailers hits the road with Windows 10

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve been a lifelong adventurer who enjoys camping in the great outdoors with few amenities and the ability to disconnect from the urban world. When I had the first of my two daughters ten years ago, I knew things would change and they did. As the girls got older, I realized that the amount of things you have to bring to keep the kiddos comfortable can be overwhelming. I soon discovered that I was the only one who could deal with a lack of privacy, pitching tents and sleeping on the ground. I knew there had to be a better way to enjoy the outdoors with my family, and as a sustainability consultant, I was determined to find the greenest path. Four years ago after an exhaustive search of the RV market, my daughter asked me, “Daddy, what if we build a treehouse on wheels?” It dawned on me that I needed to build a trailer that was capable of being off-grid, comfortable with some key amenities, and was made with sustainable materials.

About a year ago, Eric Gertsman, co-founder and chief marketing officer and I launched Homegrown Trailers based in Kirkland, Wash., a social purpose corporation that produces sustainable, hand-crafted travel trailers.

As most small business owners who are starting out can relate, it’s all about finding the right technology fast so you can get your business off the ground. We ended up cobbling together software and hardware technologies from our personal lives or that seemed to meet our immediate needs. We definitely weren’t thinking big-picture of where we wanted to be and how technology could help get us there.

We started with a hodgepodge of technology. I had been using a Google Chromebook and Google’s G Suite of apps to collaborate on projects and edit documents in real-time while Eric and the rest of the team were using Microsoft devices and tools. While I found Google’s line of products to be simple, I soon realized that simplicity came with limited functionality, which impacted the business’ ability to achieve goals and grow. As our business picked up, we became more and more frustrated that we had to constantly transition documents back into Microsoft Word or Excel to effectively communicate and collaborate amongst our team and with partners. As co-founder and CEO, I really started to feel my productivity take a hit because I couldn’t crunch numbers or create the kind of graphs I needed in Google Sheets like I could with Microsoft Excel. I also became frustrated at the inability to effectively edit and create new documents when off-grid or on a slow Wi-Fi connection, and editing images or graphically heavy documents often crashed my Chromebook. And when it came to hardware, I found myself buying a new Chromebook at least every year due to the amount of use, which is not in line with my sustainability values.

With a fast-growing small business and a goal to produce a couple hundred trailers a year in the not too distant future, we quickly understood that technology is critical to our success and we needed a change. We needed a more productive, secure and robust set of software and hardware technology that could keep up with our operational and production demands. We recently turned to Microsoft and SADA Systems, a Microsoft National Solutions Provider, to help digitally transform each employee’s personal work experience and how we work with each other.

Homegrown Trailers team uses Windows 10 via their Surface Pro 4 device to collaborate and edit documents in real-time.

Homegrown Trailers team uses Windows 10 via their Surface Pro 4 device to collaborate and edit documents in real-time.

SADA Systems led us through a series of discovery sessions to discuss our business processes and how Microsoft technology can improve our day-to-day operations. The SADA team then completed our migration and deployment, and provided training services to ensure we optimized the vast features of the Microsoft cloud solutions. After having a mishmash of technologies for a few years, it has been refreshing to have one set of software and hardware technologies –   Windows 10, Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Windows devices – that are intuitive to use and work seamlessly together. We appreciate the operating speed and how intuitively everything works together in Windows 10, especially the ease of collaboration and communication that comes with using its suite of tools. Windows Ink has been a unique addition that allows me to notate documents and engineering plans very quickly on my Surface Pro 4 when working with the production team. I can then send immediate plan updates to our engineers, designers, regulators and other stakeholders.

It has also been really encouraging to see our communication and collaboration grow over the last few months because of Microsoft products like SharePoint, Microsoft Planner and Skype for Business. Because we’re a small yet mighty team with limited financial resources, we need to be as efficient as possible so we can grow to meet market demand. At the same time, we need to watch our bottom line while continually pushing the envelope on innovation. With Microsoft Planner, we can now assign tasks to create the kind of workflow needed for production, sales, and marketing efforts. Specifically, it has enhanced our weekly team meetings by ensuring that we’re not duplicating tasks or getting ahead of ourselves by pushing forward on a project that is dependent on another project being complete. But, it has also helped us ensure the team is staying focused, making and sharing their progress as well as meeting the most important goals each day. Another great way our team is staying connected is through the power of shared calendars via Microsoft Outlook. Our previous system didn’t allow us to effectively see what each other were up to and when to best optimize our time as a team.

Homegrown Trailers uses Microsoft Planner to assign tasks to create the kind of workflow needed for production, sales and marketing efforts.

Homegrown Trailers uses Microsoft Planner to assign tasks to create the kind of workflow needed for production, sales and marketing efforts.

I’ve also noticed a huge difference in ease of access to materials we are all working on. We can now easily post documents in SharePoint and work collaboratively without the hassle of clogging our email inboxes with large attachments, dealing with the headache of version control or wasting valuable time converting files back and forth. Personally, I’ve seen my productivity improve because I can now access documents from anywhere on any device, which is big since I am always on the go working with my team and in meetings with customers and partners. We are in the midst of launching Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales to streamline our customer interactions and improve the hand-off from our sales to production teams. With all of these tools at our fingertips, we can now avoid redundancies in our work and no longer have to battle technology inefficiencies so we can focus on building trailers and getting them to our passionate customers.

My team actually just drove across the country with one of our trailers to the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida to meet with other small business owners who are looking to digitally transform their business just like us. While this may not be the first place you would think to see a Homegrown Trailer, we were excited to share both our story and commitment to building a fully electric and sustainable travel trailer. With Microsoft on our side, we have seen an immediate improvement to our operations and were delighted to share our early learnings and commitment to a more sustainable future especially as the NASCAR community works to do the same.

I was able to join the team for two legs of the drive and have to add that I love how Skype for Business via our Surface Pro 4 devices has kept those of us on the road this week for the Daytona 500 connected to the team back home no matter where we are. We have been able to push projects forward that would not have been possible without the technology and I was even able to walk my production team through some troubleshooting via Skype while flying across the country.

Homegrown Trailers employees build sustainable, hand-crafted travel trailers in its Kirkland, Wash., facility.

Homegrown Trailers employees build sustainable, hand-crafted travel trailers in its Kirkland, Wash., facility.

Today, I am back in the office and my team is hitting the open road back to Washington. We are excited to have been able to take advantage of this opportunity, share our experiences with other entrepreneurs, and continue growing our business with Microsoft at our side so that many others can get out there and experience the world in a Homegrown Trailer.

You can follow us on Twitter at @TrailerGreen, on Facebook, on Instagram, on LinkedIn or learn more at homegrowntrailers.com.

Windows 10 injects digital transformation into healthcare

This community of health care providers understand how integral a secure and productive IT infrastructure is to the delivery of quality healthcare to individuals and populations. We know the faster practitioners can access data safely and securely, the faster patients can receive care and get critical test results back.

This week, I’m pleased to share how some of the country’s top healthcare organizations – ProMedica Laboratories and Adventist Health Systems – are deploying Windows 10 to empower its healthcare professionals to continue delivering quality and timely healthcare. It’s been exciting to see our customers upgrade to Windows 10 at an incredible pace, with a 3X increase in Windows 10 enterprise deployments over the last few months.

We also know that protecting and securing patient data is just as important as delivering quality and timely healthcare for our healthcare providers like ProMedica Laboratories and Adventist Health Systems who are deploying Windows 10. Healthcare is one of the most regulated environments given the sensitive patient data that must be secured and protected. Despite significant protections over the last few years, health providers and payers in the industry are being subjected to an increasing number of cyber-attacks. Healthcare providers need to consider end-to-end security of their IT infrastructure more than ever.

With Windows 10 being the most secure version of Windows ever, we continue to hear from our healthcare customers who want to know how Windows 10 meets the technical and administrative safeguards required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which provides data privacy and security provisions for individual personal health information. While a number of the HIPPA requirements are not relevant to an operating system such as organizational documentation retention policies, a significant number remain important. I am excited to share that we commissioned HIPPA One, an organization recognized as leading HIPPA experts to review Windows 10 and its new security features as it relates to HIPPA safeguards and provide recommendations on the best configurations to assist with compliance requirements. You can learn more via the white paper hosted by HIPPA One which can help healthcare IT professionals understand HIPPA and how they can configure Windows 10 to help keep their IT systems running on Windows 10 secure and compliant.

Here’s a look at how Windows 10 is helping to drive digital innovation in the healthcare industry.

ProMedica Laboratories

ProMedica Laboratories is a highly automated complex operation and one of only 43 ISO certified labs in the United States. Each day, they process and analyze thousands of biological samples, requiring the testing instruments to be kept operational and calibrated to meet regulatory requirements. Ensuring these tasks were completed and documented was an arduous process and it used to be done the old fashion way: with lots of paperwork.

In U.S. hospitals alone, over a billion patient blood tests are processed annually.* These tests range from simply determining a patient’s blood type to more critical testing for diabetes or cancer. At ProMedica, they know the success of a patient’s treatment plan depends on the accuracy and timeliness of these tests.

ProMedica Laboratories needed a better way to perform routine quality inspections and equipment maintenance. In addition, a systematic process was needed to detect any errors that may have occurred along the way. To do this, ProMedica Laboratories partnered with software company Kaonsoft, member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to build the Assured Compliance Solution (ACS) on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). The Kaonsoft team has decades of digital transformation and mobility expertise which it brought forward on the ProMedica project.

ACS replaced all paper logs with Windows 10 tablets, which provided security, manageability and an extra layer of data protection. The solution tracks all scheduled instrument activity and notifies them with a chain of alerts until a required task is completed. ProMedica Laboratories now has a centralized database hosted on Microsoft Azure, the trusted and reliable cloud to record and review equipment status, access records and run audit reports, all in real-time – resulting in a 100% compliance rate for log accuracy and task completion since implementing it in January 2016.

A ProMedica Laboratories employee uses the Assured Compliance Solution (ACS) on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) via her Windows 10 device.

A ProMedica Laboratories employee uses the Assured Compliance Solution (ACS) on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) via her Windows 10 device.

Lori Johnston, CIO, ProMedica says, “Transforming from a paper based system to a digital process means we can more precisely deliver the most important information: the results. And for individuals and families under the stress of a potential medical situation, nothing is more imperative than timely and accurate results. Creating ACS on Windows 10 and the Microsoft Cloud helps ProMedica Labs work faster and smarter. Better information, better treatment, better healthcare.”

With the ACS UWP app, ProMedica Laboratories can now decrease the time patients spend in the hospital due to an increase in laboratory efficiency. ProMedica Laboratories is also seeing an increase in productivity for technicians, supervisors, management and executives as they’re saving an average of 13 hours each month, 156 hours per year, in managing, troubleshooting and filing maintenance logs. As a result, the productivity of technicians, supervisors, management and executives has risen.

“I am thrilled to see technology and healthcare working in tandem to enable advancements in the healthcare and hospital management fields,” said Daniel J. Lee, Kaonsoft chief technology officer, co-founder and CEO. The success of the collaboration prompted ProMedica to partner with Kaonsoft to form Kapios Health, a joint venture company focused on developing mobile technology to spearhead innovations in healthcare. Kapios Health enables healthcare practitioners to provide exemplary patient care supported by sophisticated industry-inspired, field-tested mobile technology solutions. ACS is available through Kapios Health who will be exhibiting at HIMSS17 in Orlando, FL at booth 8068.

Adventist Health System

Adventist Health System is a faith-based health care organization based in Altamonte Springs, Florida. A national leader in quality, safety and patient satisfaction with 45 hospital campuses and more than 80,000 employees, Adventist Health System facilities leverage the latest technology and research to serve more than 4.7 million patients annually.  The organization is upgrading more than 55,000 devices running Windows 7 to Windows 10, with a goal of 25 percent of its devices in the first year.

Tony Qualls, director of technical services says, “Our experience to-date with Windows 10 and application compatibility has truly exceeded our expectations. At this point, it looks like we will exceed the first year goal that we were looking for, and it’s likely we’ll accelerate beyond that over the next two years. The Windows 10 upgrade will help bring about improved mobility for physicians, stronger security and easier authentication to improve the operational efficiency of staff.”

Adventist Health Systems physician and nurse collaborate on patient care in real-time via their Windows 10 device.

Adventist Health Systems physician and nurse collaborate on patient care in real-time via their Windows 10 device.

In a profession where speed, reliability and security are vital to delivering the best care possible, Adventist Health System is working to ensure that its health care professionals are able to access data securely and from any device whether they’re at a workstation in a patient’s room or walking the hallways with their mobile device.

Qualls says, “As I look towards the future, I’m also excited about faster authentication and lower reliance on passwords. We already see some potential high value cases, especially involving mobility, where facial recognition with Windows Hello could make a big difference. The faster our practitioners can access their data, the faster our patients can receive care.”

This is not the only area where speed has positively impacted the day-to-day operations, doctors have experienced notable performance improvements to patient critical applications. According to Dr. Qammer Bokhari, vice president and chief medical information officer, “Windows 10 is in clinician’s word, ‘lighter’, meaning the clinician platforms that run on Windows 10 are performing faster and they’re not crashing or freezing as they were previously, thereby diminishing workflow interruptions.”

We’re excited to see what these customers and others will be able to accomplish with the power of Windows 10. Please visit the Windows solutions for Health page for more information on how Windows 10 helps healthcare companies, professionals and patients.

*AMERICAN CLINICAL LABORATORY ASSOCIATION

MARS future looking sweeter with Microsoft technology

Whether it’s grabbing gum at checkout, satisfying late-afternoon hunger with a Milky Way ®, or even buying pet food for that unconditional loving best friend, we’ve all been surrounded by MARS products and might not even know it! As a century-old family-owned business, MARS has certainly found its recipe for success. The company has made $35 billion in global sales by putting people first in everything they do. With 60 brands across six segments from food, drinks, chocolate, confectionary (gum), pet care and symbioscience, the company is more than just sweet treats. MARS understands a long-term vision that is committed to product, technology and workplace innovation based on the company’s Five Principles– Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom.

MARS has long valued a workplace that encourages mutuality and open communication among all Associates. As MARS looks at new products, services and business units to accelerate its growth, it knows a digital transformation would not only bolster its already collaborative and productive work environment but also attract and retain employees who expect a modern workplace. MARS is deploying Windows 10 to its more than 80,000 associates who work across 400 locations in 78 countries. Windows 10, along with Office 365 and Microsoft Azure, is enabling MARS to digitally transform how its Associates not only work with each other, but how they get work done.

“At MARS, we meet our goals,” says David Boersma, Senior Manager for End User Technologies, MARS, Incorporated. “This company will continue to accelerate its growth organically and through acquisition and we’re using Windows 10 to build the flexibility and capabilities we need to get there.”

— David Boersma, Senior Manager for End User Technologies, MARS, Incorporated

MARS has deployed Windows 10 to help reduce the cost and time associated with large-scale deployments. With a company that spans multiple geographies, its previous upgrades had taken up to four years and cost $4 million. According to Boersma, “Windows 10, on the other hand, has been substantially quicker and with less cost.” The “Windows as a Service” model has allowed MARS to skip the lengthy upgrade cycle which has resulted in accelerated Windows 10 deployment. Originally, MARS set out to deploy Windows 10 to 5,000 Associates in 12 months. Although, it has already exceeded its goal by 110 percent by deploying Windows 10 to 12,500 Associates and is now looking to scale to all Associates by 2018.

By embracing the “Windows as a Service” model, MARS has been able to refocus the time and energy of its IT department from chasing the next operating system update to strengthening its collaborative culture through Office 365, including Yammer and Skype for Business.

“Rather than tying up investment and time to just get through the next product release, we can focus on enhancing key aspects of our culture like mutuality at a digital level, across divisions, borders and time zones – so we can preserve what is special about MARS and help our Associates be more productive and agile.”

— Jonathan Chong, Digital Workplace and Corporate Systems Director at MARS, Incorporated

MARS associates collaborate while using their Windows 10 devices.

MARS associates collaborate while using their Windows 10 devices.

This highly collaborative company has helped create a place where many associates stay 25 years. Although, with its new goal set, MARS wanted to digitally transform not only how its associates work but also attract the next generation of workers.

“We invest a lot of money in attracting and retaining talent. These people now expect a modern, productive work environment and this includes the type of devices we provide and the tools they use at work every day. Products like Windows 10, Skype for Business and Yammer support our engagement and talent management strategies.”

— Paul L’Estrange, CTO and Vice President of Core Services, MARS, Incorporated

MARS Associates use Skype for Business to collaborate.

MARS Associates use Skype for Business to collaborate.

MARS is seeing the positive impact Skype for Business has had on its culture and Associate work-life balance. With Skype for Business, MARS has reduced travel, as Associates now use Skype for Business to tackle projects and resolve issues in real-time.

“We like a lot of human interaction and we’ve been able to use Skype for Business to help us increase that level of collaboration but not necessarily have the person fly half way around the planet. We’ve been able to reduce our overall travel which has been great from a cost perspective. But, we’ve helped positively impact people’s work life balance so they can spend more time at home yet they can still do the business that they need to do around the globe.”

— Joe Carlin, Technology Service Delivery Director, MARS, Incorporated

MARS is also seeing Associates quickly embrace Yammer, as another way to connect and share knowledge. Vittorio Cretella, CIO of MARS, Incorporated says Yammer is “taking down those walls around knowledge and making it accessible which is very valuable.”

MARS associate uses Windows 10 devices to conduct store walk-through.

MARS associate uses Windows 10 devices to conduct store walk-through.

Windows 10 provides MARS the flexibility with the types of devices its Associates and Senior Leaders can use to get work done whether at home, in the office or on the road. Senior Leaders and Associates can now use everything from Surface Pro to OEM devices to help fit their unique work styles. Previously, an associate conducting a store walk-through would have to juggle multiple devices and paper to make note of any product display issues. Once the Associate returned to the office, they’d connect with their peers to resolve the issue. This process could take several days to a week depending on their travel. Today, many issues can be resolved on the spot.

“By using Windows 10, MARS associates now finish things on the road instead of waiting until they get back to the office. For example, field associates use their Surface Pro devices in store walk-throughs, and if necessary, use Office 365 to connect with other team members and resolve display issues in one day instead of a week.”

— Joe Carlin, Technology Service Delivery Director, MARS, Incorporated

With a more on-the-go workforce, MARS has strengthened security and data protection for its Associates who are on their smartphones, tablets or their PCs from the office, at home or on the road. As a privately-owned company, MARS takes security seriously especially when it comes to its intellectual property. MARS has enabled Windows security features like BitLocker to encrypt data and Windows Defender to provide a strong layer of security and authentication.

To ensure MARS can do business securely in the cloud and fully realize its digital transformation, MARS has only just begun its journey with Microsoft Azure to enable greater efficiency and reliability. Currently, MARS has two global datacenters that run 85 percent of its business with one datacenter being 25 years old which requires significant cost resources and time to maintain. Now, MARS is currently testing a hybrid cloud model and recently moved its first live production application, a retail app, into Microsoft Azure as well as about 150 other workloads with the expectation to expand to 500-600 workloads over the next year.

We’re excited to see that with Windows 10, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365, MARS is able to foster a modern and productive workplace that will support the company’s ambitious growth strategy. For more detailed information about MARS’ deployment of Microsoft technologies, please check out the case study and video here.

Australian Department of Human Services achieves full Windows 10 deployment

Windows10 is enabling Australian Department of Human Services to deliver better access to healthcare, disability and employment support.

Windows10 is enabling Australian Department of Human Services to deliver better access to healthcare, disability and employment support.

I had the good fortune to spend a part of my young life in Australia not as a tourist but as an employee of small tour company. Traveling to some of the most majestic cities like Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne, to some of the more rural areas within Queenstown Tasmania, Wagga Wagga New South Wales to Goondiwindi Queensland. I saw first-hand the tyranny of distance in Australia. My time in Australia gave me an appreciation not only of the citizens and the country, but also of the Australian Department of Human Service’s story.

It’s tough to bridge the divide between people who have access to amazing services in a big metropolitan city, versus the people who live in a rural town and don’t have the same access. This is a familiar story to thousands of people who are living in remote and indigenous communities in Australia’s outback who often travel an entire day and up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) to access healthcare, disability, or employment support.

In of the summer of 2015, we sat down with the IT staff at Australia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) who told us they wanted a more innovative way to connect with citizens in remote places to deliver important services to them much faster. The task was tough because DHS employees conduct tens of thousands of interviews each week from hundreds of different service centers.

To bridge the distance gap and make sure more citizens can receive more personal and faster access to services, Australia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) worked with the Windows team and Microsoft Consulting Services to upgrade 44,000 existing and new devices in just four months to Windows 10 enterprise. It’s the largest global commercial deployment of Windows 10 in the Asia-Pacific region to date – a record deployment for a government agency with the unique complexities of the DHS, not to mention an organization that has 1500 internal line of business apps that required compatibility testing.

“Our last operating system upgrade of desktops and devices, took us almost three years,” commented Mike Brett, General Manager, ICT Infrastructure at DHS. “Upgrading to Windows 10 Enterprise proved surprisingly straightforward. By using Windows 10 in-place upgrades we started initially running 20,000 Windows 10 devices in just five weeks,” said Brett.

— Mike Brett, General Manager, ICT Infrastructure at DHS

“Upgrading to Windows 10 was one of the most seamless rollouts we’ve ever seen and the level of app remediation was marginal.”

— Gary Sterrenberg, CIO, Department of Human Services

As part of the upgrade to Windows 10, DHS wanted its employees to be able to conduct interview video calls with citizens, no matter where they were located across the country. Having visited a fair amount of Australia, I appreciate how immense and spread out its people are, especially across the rural outback. Previously DHS had a solution using iPads.

“With our iPads the screen size didn’t work for us, the sound quality was poor and using Wi-Fi connections on those devices didn’t really work for us. The other requirement required use of peripherals and that didn’t work so well with iPads. In the end, the overall experience was a barrier and frustrating to our citizens.”

— Ron Barnsley Solution Designer DHS

By creating a universal Windows 10 line of business app, DHS assessors have been able to easily interview people remotely using a broader range of devices and monitors for video calling, which solved a huge challenge of not only reaching citizens, but reaching them immediately. The pilot program on Windows 10 known internally at DHS as ‘Express Plus Connect’ (EPC), can be opened on any connected Windows 10 PC on the DHS network to allow employees to set up video calls, schedule appointments and generate reports. DHS assessors simply login with their DHS identity and can manage all aspects of an interview without customer input, and can bring additional experts into the interview for health consults.

“Previously, assessors would schedule back-to-back interviews for a specific day, then travel 200–300 kilometers inland,” says Kylie Martin, Service Center Manager for the Charters Towers Service Center, Indigenous, Regional, and Intensive Services Division at DHS. “The early pilot results in Queensland show assessors can proceed with a claim as soon as the customer reports a problem. And they aren’t just reacting more quickly, they are taking on more cases because they don’t have to arrange travel around each appointment. With EPC, people in rural places are starting to experience the same quality of service as we provide in big cities.”

— Kylie Martin, Service Center Manager for the Charters Towers Service Center, Indigenous, Regional, and Intensive Services Division at DHS

“The EPC on Windows 10 pilot provides a level of service that Australian citizens have simply never experienced before. They really feel cared for, not just by the officer in front of them, but they’re connecting with people who speak their language.”

— Gary Sterrenberg, CIO, Department of Human Services

Check out what the team at DHS has had to say about the new solution:

“When I meet with Windows customers, I always ask them: what compelled you to upgrade to Windows 10? Ken Simpson, Project Leader at DHS shared, “The improvements over Windows 8, such as the user interface and remote access, made Windows 10 very attractive and we’ve seen less incidents/defects observed. The OS quality has really increased. But two things stood out, Windows as a Service would help make our environment easier to maintain, because software updates flow continuously from Microsoft. It would also make us more agile because we could take what Microsoft provides and repackage it to provide a better service to our employees.”

— Ken Simpson, Project Leader at DHS

Complementary to DHS’ efforts, the Australian Federal Government (AFG) is working to ensure government services are more agile in responding to political, economic, and environmental change. In fact, the AFG has committed to improving access to health services, with an emphasis on expanding access via digital channels. The National Broadband Network (NBN), an Australian national wholesale-only open-access data network, is making it possible for this digital connection between public service providers and patients to take place.

DHS is also leveraging Cortana Intelligence, using machine learning and cognitive services, to build expert systems empowering its employees to respond faster and more effectively to citizen queries to better serve Australians.

Now Australians who have experienced disaster or misfortune can get help faster with less travel, while DHS continues to improve the speed, quality, and increase efficiency of services in remote areas. I could not be more proud that the Windows team and Microsoft Consulting Services has a part in helping DHS’ meet its on-going commitment and service to the people of Australia.

“Good on ya to the entire team at DHS and Microsoft”

For more detailed information about Australia Department of Human Services Windows 10 deployment, check out the case study here.

Kimberly-Clark embraces Windows 10 as a service

Kimberly-Clark is one of the most iconic, most recognized essential personal care brands in the world. Their products, like Kleenex, HUGGIES, Pull-Ups and Scott Tissue have been taking care of families, including my own for over 140 years. They are also one of the largest global enterprises in the world, with over 43,000 employees in 175 countries. To get essential products to market in the most productive and efficient manner, the company is always looking at ways it can modernize and transform its manufacturing processes.

Prior to upgrading to Windows 10, Dorothy Stephenson, Director of IT Client Services at Kimberly-Clark had three bold objectives for the company’s migration to Windows 10:  – make it easier, faster and more cost effective to upgrade new software. “We used a deployment process that relied on custom applications and a lot of manual work. Lengthy software upgrades cost both our IT staff and our users, who have to wait for new software services, which could take up to eight weeks,” shared Stephenson.

With the introduction of Windows 10, Kimberly-Clark embraced the “Windows as a service” model, where they wouldn’t have to wait on a lengthy upgrade cycle or manual updates to the OS on end user machines. By moving to Windows 10 Enterprise over the past year, the company has shrunk software deployment and update times by 75 percent.

The company is also using Windows 10–based touch-enabled mobile devices, to bring digital efficiencies to manufacturing processes and increasing mobile productivity with knowledge workers. By embracing the “evergreen” software model that Windows 10 was built on, Kimberly-Clark also adopted and moved to cloud-based applications like Microsoft’s Office 365 to reduce IT costs and provide easier application access from mobile devices.

“With the Windows as a service model being introduced with Windows 10, we have reduced our operating system deployment time from up to eight weeks to less than two weeks.”  – Stephenson, Director of IT Client Services at Kimberly-Clark

The company is also providing its manufacturing engineers new, touch-enabled Windows 10-mobile devices, including Lenovo ThinkPad Helix and Microsoft Surface Pro devices to leverage all forms of device interaction from touch, pen to mouse & keyboard to capture and share data.  With the user experience flexibility offered in Windows 10, Kimberly-Clark will see operational improvements and productivity gains by eliminating paper based processes.

Kimberly-Clark’s Continuous Improvement team is also using Windows 10 devices to inspect machinery and enforce production-process best practices. Utilizing a Surface Pro tablet, engineers simply remove the keyboard and use the Surface Pro in tablet mode as both a camera and clipboard to make videos of how to set up and tune a diaper machine bagging unit and share that video with other Kimberly-Clark factories around the world. “A picture is worth a thousand words for staff who speak different languages,” says Heidi Brazee, Senior Manager of Desktop & Mobility Services at Kimberly-Clark. “Having digital tools on the factory floor reduces equipment troubleshooting time by as much as a week in some cases, and downtime is very costly.”

Kimberly-Clark is yet another example of how our customers are embracing digital transformation by leveraging the latest Microsoft technology to gain new efficiencies, modernize operations and engage their employees in new and productive ways.

As the leading provider of everyday essential personal care products, I am excited to see Kimberly-Clark continue to innovate through the use of Microsoft technology so they can maintain focus on putting the consumer at the center of everything they do.

Hendrick Motorsports gains competitive advantage on the race track

I am a huge NASCAR fan, following races since I was a teenager. It’s a sport where champions are defined by tenth of a second; the smallest detail in a race car makes the difference between winning and losing. NASCAR has the longest season of any sport in the United States, and the competition is fast-paced and relentless. Hendrick Motorsports holds a record 11 car owner championships in NASCAR’s premier division and has four of the most successful teams, including car number 5 driven by Kasey Kahne, car 24 driven by Chase Elliott, car 48 driven by Jimmie Johnson, and car 88 driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr – they are a team to be reckoned with.

“The biggest challenge that we have is keeping a competitive advantage against 39 other teams that we race against on a weekly basis.”

— Matthew Cochran, Manager of Information Technologies at Hendrick Motorsports

Windows 10 provides speed, versatility and enhanced security for its versatile teams

Hendrick Motorsports Gains Competitive Advantage On the Race Track

Hendrick has already upgraded all of its 600 employees to Windows 10 Enterprise, giving them a common mobile platform and the ability to work across devices. Not only does Windows 10 keep their devices and data more secure than any other operating system, the experience works seamlessly on whatever size screen they are using – whether it’s Surface Pro 3, a Panasonic Toughbook or a Windows 10 mobile device. The IT team has also embraced the new approach of Windows as a service to keep all employees up to date.

Hendrick Motorsports Gains Competitive Advantage On the Race Track

By moving to Windows 10, the IT team says it’s seen a 64% reduction in installation and patch time. Outside the office, staff use their devices in a non-traditional environment—the racetrack. Hendrick race engineers have to keep pace with activities on the track and in a highly mobile work environment.

“The racetrack’s probably one of the harshest environments that IT can operate in. We utilize a combination of Windows 10 devices in the garage, on race car haulers, and all the way to the pit boxes. Windows 10 works seamlessly across all those devices from small; 8” devices to large monitor laptops, and that’s what so important to us and such a huge benefit to Hendrick.”

—  Matthew Cochran, Manager of Information Technologies at Hendrick Motorsports

Using data and machine learning to push the limits and take action

With strict regulations governing stock cars, engineers have a limited number of ways they can legally change a car to make it go faster. We worked with Hendrick to develop a customized proprietary universal Windows 10 app powered by the Microsoft Cloud to collect data and distill it quickly enough to inform decisions during a race. Prior to using the solution, much of this data was collected manually and could take many hours and multiple engineers to parcel this data into a manageable format. Now with the power of the Azure cloud and Windows 10, the team can digitally transform their process into real-time data to free up engineers for more mission-critical tasks.

“Before, we had all this aggregated data that we really couldn’t do much with, and now with Azure we can parse it down to really get something useful. The true power of using Azure is that you can make a more informed decision, and nine times out of ten, that’s going to translate into greater performance.”

— Tom Gray, #24 Team Engineer at Hendrick Motorsports

Hendrick selected the Microsoft Azure cloud to analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data. Cortana Intelligence Suite, a feature of Azure Machine Learning, allows Hendrick to automate data flow. Teams can collect data from the car and timing and scoring feeds from NASCAR, push it up to the cloud for analysis, and then pull back information that’s valuable. With our cloud-based services, Hendrick does not have to invest in costly server infrastructure and instead can pay by the minute for only the computing power the team needs. For instance, on race day, the team can bring a cluster of virtual machines online, and then take it offline as soon as the event is over.

“We have high-performance computing power with Azure that we can scale up only when we need it compared to building a $200,000 infrastructure and keeping it running 24 hours a day, there’s really no question.”

— David Hood, Engineer and Data Scientist at Hendricks Motorsports

Adopting high octane productivity tools

Hendrick Motorsports Gains Competitive Advantage On the Race Track

Hendrick also wanted to standardize on communication, collaboration, and productivity applications companywide, so it deployed Microsoft Office 365 alongside Windows 10. Since the Hendrick racing team supports four different cars, it’s essential that data gets shared among all team members. Employees were quick to start using OneNote to share notes and Skype for Business Online for videoconferencing and messaging teammates during practices and races, when engineers, coaches, and other staff are out on the track in a noisy environment.

“We use OneNote to share information from the racetrack back to our home campus. We have a lot of data throughput and a lot of iteration going on, and it’s paramount for us to be able to share that information among the four teams,” says Hood. “It’s a more collaborative effort now, and as an organization as a whole we’re much stronger because of that.”

The combination of Windows 10, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365—all accessible through a single sign-in on a wide variety of devices—is what makes their experience so powerful. From the IT side, moving to the cloud has reduced an IT maintenance and support burden, and staff is able to spend time more effectively.

Racing toward success

Hendrick Motorsports is keeping its eye on the prize: and by delivering a seamless experience that allows its teams to be inventive, consistent, and collaborative in their decision making is giving them a competitive edge.

“A season is a marathon of 39 races. When you’re successful, it’s the challenges you win that you remember, not necessarily the champagne at the end,” says Doug Duchardt, General Manager at Hendrick Motorsports. “We’re using Windows 10, Microsoft Cloud and Office 365 to work together and get better every day—just as we do across all our race teams.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Jason

Crystal Group brings fast fashion to retailers in less than 24 hours using Microsoft technologies

You may have noticed that it seems like your favorite retailers are magically stocking store shelves with the latest trends in fashion at record speeds. You can attribute this to “fast fashion,” and it is revolutionizing the garment manufacturing industry. Instead of a clothing manufacturer producing a single style, fashion retailers now expect a single order that consists of hundreds of styles.

Windows 10, along with Microsoft cloud services, is enabling Crystal Group to digitally transform its processes to help modernize its workforce and to become more agile with the realities of fast fashion.

Before fast fashion, you could wait months for the latest fashion trend to debut on the runways and to reach your hometown. To stay ahead of the “fast fashion” trend, Crystal Group of Companies [CG], a leading international garment manufacturer and FORTUNE 17 company based in Hong Kong, is deploying Windows 10 Enterprise and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite across 4,500 employees. Windows 10, along with Microsoft cloud services, is enabling Crystal Group to digitally transform its processes to help modernize its workforce and to become more agile with the realities of fast fashion. Through this technology, Crystal Group has achieved accelerated sales cycles and significantly improving design concepts to protype garments in days versus months for its global customers like Victoria Secret and in in-time customers such as Gap, H&M, Levi’s.

 Crystal Group Brings Fast Fashion to Retailers in Less Than 24 Hours Using Microsoft Technologies

“Fashion is changing all the time and our role is to help customers stay one step ahead of consumer preferences,” says Karl Ting, General Manager, Information Services Department, Crystal Group. “Today, consumers choose from a plethora of styles online, and they expect to see the same variety in stores. This is partly responsible for ‘fast fashion,’ pioneered by retailers like H&M and Zara.”

Previously, designers would travel to a customer’s office juggling multiple devices and folders brimming with style printouts to work on. While back at the Crystal office, an assistant designer converted the drawings into a soft copy and then uploaded them into the quotation system. That process took several days before a customer signed off on a design.

To make design concepts a reality in less than 24 hours versus weeks, CG employees now use the following custom, fashion-forward apps built on the universal Windows 10 platform to expedite its entire sales cycle.

  • Style Library app on their Surface Pro 4 to show their customers the company’s latest library of styles. Together, they can use the Surface Pen to quickly draw on the screen and finalize their designs. This process took up to 7 days and can now be done in 12 hours. Once a design is signed off, the Crystal merchandiser uses the Style Library app to quickly convert the order into a quotation record.
  • Quotation app: Once the order is in the system, a sales manager reviews and approves the quote via the Quotation Approval app on their Surface Pro 4 or Microsoft Lumia phone.
  • Sales Hub Apps: Employees use the app as one-stop-shop for customer data where they can track the go-to-market dates for sales, marketing, research and development and merchandisers.

“These Windows 10 apps are going to set us apart in the market,” shared Ting. ”Our designers, who are working with customers in the United States or Europe can instantly upload finalized styles. The faster customers see their concept become garments, the happier they are.”

 Crystal Group Brings Fast Fashion to Retailers in Less Than 24 Hours Using Microsoft Technologies

Windows 10 Security Safeguards Customer Data

With a more on-the-go workforce, CG strengthened security and data protection for its employees carrying classified designs and intellectual property on their devices as they move from one office to another. “Security is our top concern in an ever-changing IT landscape,” says Carol Tai, senior manager, Infrastructure and Operations at the Crystal Group of Companies. CG has deployed Windows 10 security features like BitLocker to encrypt corporate data on employees’ personal and corporate devices – and Credential Guard and Windows Hello to provide a stronger layer of security and authentication. Azure Right Management has also provided end-to-end information security, no matter who an employee shares it with.

CG employees are also excited about Continuum, which turns any phone running the Windows 10 Mobile operating system into a big screen projector to showcase their designs to customers. Previously, CG employees had to balance multiple devices to a client’s office, making presentations more challenging as employees switched from device to device. Now, they can use a dock or adapter to connect their Windows Phone to a TV or monitor. “Having a phone as a desktop using Continuum is revolutionary for our business. We’ve reduced the number of devices employees need to carry – without compromising productivity,” says Ting.

“The latest desktop and mobile operating system and cloud computing technologies from Microsoft are delivering a suite of modern tools to help us meet the accelerated demands of fast fashion and stay ahead of the competition,” says Ting.

We’re proud that with Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure, CG has differentiated itself in the highly competitive retail manufacturing industry. Visit their customer story page for more details about Crystal’s digital transformation.