Hersing Corporation is a Singapore-based brand manager and service provider, with diversified businesses in three main service industries: financial services, food and beverage and furnishing.
With operations across Southeast Asia, its employees used a variety of channels to communicate. Internally, they had their own legacy e-mail system, while its 5,000-odd field agents used a mix of messaging tools such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or even instant messaging and Short Message Service (SMS).
"Staff used whatever tools they had at hand to send messages, or requests, even important ones."
"Staff used whatever tools they had at hand to send messages, or requests, even important ones," said David Seah, assistant vice president of information technology at Hersing Corporation. "So this created gaps in the communications relay, and definitely issues with audit."
There were also implications to the clients. Due to the multiple messaging channels, staff members found that e-mails to customers were sometimes delayed or filtered as spam, and attachments were lost or corrupted.
This also made collaboration across departments sometimes challenging. "We needed a standardized corporate domain. But building an on-premise messaging and collaboration environment for 5,000 users across several locations to accommodate different technologies would require a heavy investment,” said Seah. "More time, more manpower, and definitely, a lot more money would be needed. It just didn't make sense."
Moving to cloud collaboration
Hersing decided the solution was a cloud platform that would allow the deployment of homogeneous technologies across different locations, which was also attractive due to its pay-per-use model.
In October 2011, Hersing began the first phase of transitioning from the company's legacy systems to the cloud platform, choosing Microsoft's Office365 product. Within two months, the IT team rolled out the change for 200 employees, before introducing the new e-mail platform for its 5,000 field agents.
The cloud-based solution posted an immediate savings of close to US$100,000 by moving away from an on-premise solution, according to Hersing. "Based on our forecasts, we are confident of another estimated US$200,000 savings from licensing and administration costs," said Seah.
Hersing's employees began to communicate more efficiently through standardized instant messaging, web conferencing, and file-sharing channels. Another plus was the added ability for remote IT support for travelling employees.
"Without having to invest in an expensive internal infrastructure, the company had the flexibility to scale accordingly as business requirements evolve, or when we expand into new markets,” said Seah.