Democratizing data— Atkins goes digital by default with Office 365 E5

Today’s Office 365 post was written by Richard Cross, chief information officer and chief digital officer for Atkins, a design, engineering and project management consultancy.

Akins pro pixWe’ve determined that we want Atkins to be “digital by default.” For me, that’s not just about using technology to bring people and information together, it’s about flexible experimentation at a rapid pace.

As an important part of our strategy, we’ve invested in the latest and most comprehensive version of Microsoft Office 365, the E5 suite, to give employees new ways to serve themselves and make faster, better decisions. Multiple benefits captured our attention, but I’m most eager to adopt Microsoft Power BI. We see it as the heart of our efforts to break down silos, unlock our core corporate data and enhance personal effectiveness.

Atkins has a history of delivering innovative answers to complex engineering problems, from designing the world’s longest driverless subway in Dubai to transforming the offshore wind energy industry to international airport modernization. We’re infusing every part of our company with that same spirit of innovation, which is no small feat for a global organization. We’ve got to think about global collaboration and choose technology systems that work everywhere in the world, tools that make it easy for people to share information and connect with each other. We can’t take months to provide employees with new capabilities—we need to be able to get them up and running.

My colleagues want a 360-degree, single, integrated view of the business and the ability to consume that data proactively without waiting for another report to be created. Using Power BI, individual employees have self-service access to intelligence that they can slice and dice in whatever ways are most helpful to them. They also have an easy way to view and share their insights through interactive visualizations. I’m a great believer in democratized capabilities across the organization, and enabling employees to access and experiment with data ties directly to our emphasis on innovation.

Increasing our ability to be data driven also helps us act faster by taking advantage of existing resources and expertise. Giving our entire workforce access to Power BI unlocks the full potential of the whole company and helps enable the agile new world we’re creating.

There are many other aspects of Office 365 that help us move faster and give us the business agility we’re looking for. For example, we use our Yammer enterprise social network to crowdsource solutions to client issues, come up with ideas for hackathons and engage diverse groups in conversations about using innovative technology to create value for our employees and clients alike.

Also, through E5, we’re extending our use of Skype for Business, making it our single solution for voice, video, conferencing and instant messaging. Moving to complete cloud-based communications gives us obvious benefits in terms of cost savings and less equipment on people’s desks. Plus, we’ll continue to gain benefits as Microsoft adds new features to the platform over time. There’s also real value in using the full capabilities of Skype for Business because it supports true mobility. Atkins has many consultants who spend a lot of time on the road. They love using Skype for Business to stay productive and effective wherever they might be in the world.

In fact, Office 365 will have a transformational impact on the way all sorts of employees work at Atkins—they no longer need to be at a desk or even in an office. They go to Office 365 to connect with colleagues and clients and bring new insights to the work we do. They tap into our innovation hubs, client communities, winning work communities and business change leaders network. And they use Microsoft SharePoint Online to set up team sites quickly for collaboration across borders, and they share information with Microsoft OneDrive for Business.

Our vision is to move the company completely to the cloud by 2020, allowing us to decommission on-premises infrastructure and concentrate our creative energy in the spaces where we can truly differentiate Atkins from the rest of the market. Using Office 365 helps us harness our collective knowledge and experience, combine it with some of our clients’ knowledge and experience, and develop innovative, successful solutions in a fraction of the time it would have taken before. I’m excited about the future at Atkins and our relationship with Microsoft and Office 365. We look forward to the ongoing benefits of using a product that’s continually evolving and adding value to what we do, just like we do for our clients.

—Richard Cross

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