CEL Data Services had an aging on-premises infrastructure. This system, paired with outdated mobile devices for field workers, had resulted in longer response times and limited communication and collaboration options. A device refresh and a move to the cloud were called for, but with such sweeping changes ahead, the company needed to that modernization proceeded smoothly and fostered widespread adoption of any newly deployed services. Partnering with Spikes, a FastTrack Ready partner, to deploy Microsoft 365, CEL Data Services has seen increased collaboration, communication, and security.
Big changes are underway at CEL Data Services (CELDS). Based in Brussels and boasting a total of 210 employees, CELDS is a daughter company to ING Bank, providing IT and automatic teller machine (ATM) support to its parent and other customers in banking, retail, and beyond. Because of the nature of its work, the company has a vested interest in assuring that its customer service and field workers complete their assignments professionally, quickly, and securely.
In recent years, maintaining this gold standard had become increasingly challenging. The company struggled to connect and share information with field workers using personal digital assistant (PDA) devices at the speed necessary to meet its high standards. CELDS was beginning to feel the impact of its aging technological landscape.
“It was time to upgrade our overall technology platform, both centrally as well as in the field,” says Bob Vanderstukken, Corporate Strategy Officer at CELDS. “Indeed, the PDA device our field workers used was end of life and functionally in terms of communication, collaboration, and mobile access to documents was limited.” In addition to these concerns, any solution the company selected would have to carry with it the promise of an advanced, layered approach to security, especially in regard to the use of mobile devices.
A technological leap forward
CELDS enlisted the services of Spikes, a Microsoft FastTrack Ready partner focused on the implementation of cloud-based solutions. Working together, the two companies decided to move from a network of on-premises file servers to Microsoft 365 using FastTrack, a service that helps organizations accelerate deployment and drive employee adoption.
“By partnering with Spikes and opting to deploy Microsoft 365, we knew we wouldn’t be reinventing the wheel,” says Vanderstukken. A complete, intelligent solution, Microsoft 365 includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. “With Microsoft 365, we can cover all of our security, mobility, and communications needs, and from a procedural standpoint we knew that Spikes and the FastTrack program would offer us much-needed insight into the deployment and adoption process.”
As an IT company, CELDS wasn’t just focused on deploying an improved technological landscape. The company wanted to offer employees a greater depth of training on Microsoft 365 apps and services. To drive this level of understanding, company leadership first identified influential managers and supervisors who could function as “change agents.” Spikes then conducted awareness sessions using FastTrack material to inform these influencers about the upcoming modernization initiatives at CELDS. These sessions covered subjects like the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, the expanded functionality of Office 365, and shifting from on-premises servers to cloud services.
Thanks to the support of Spikes and documentation from FastTrack, the company’s change agents have already begun training their coworkers on solutions like Microsoft Teams, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online. By training its workforce during the deployment process, CELDS has helped ensure both a successful deployment and widespread adoption. “We’ll also be using Power BI and Microsoft 365 usage analytics to track how many of our workers are using Teams, SharePoint, or any of the solutions we’re still working on deploying,” says Vanderstukken. CELDS can use this data to improve adoption rates by offering additional training and support where and when it is required.
Device adoption made easy
To further drive adoption of Microsoft 365, CELDS decided to empower employees with sleek, compact Windows 10 devices. Soon, LTE-connected Surface GO devices will replace the PDA devices that have been used for field work. On the company’s thirtieth anniversary, management also decided to provide each employee with a state-of-the-art smartphone, further encouraging digital adoption. With these changes in place, employees will be able to access their entire collaboration and communication infrastructure anywhere, any time.
“What we want to see is everyone collaborating through Teams and sharing documents in SharePoint,” says Vanderstukken. “Soon, we can use solutions like Microsoft Planner from smartphones and Surface GO devices, staying more connected than ever before.”
To streamline deployment of Surface GO devices, Spikes is taking advantage of Windows Autopilot, a solution that makes it easy for employees to set up new devices anywhere, without any IT involvement. CELDS IT personnel simply create a deployment profile in order to preconfigure their new devices. When employees turn on the devices and go online for the first time, their specific preconfigured apps and settings are automatically downloaded for them, saving hours of employee downtime and hundreds of working hours for IT.
“We anticipate the rollout of our Surface GO devices to be immensely easier than our past device deployments,” says Vanderstukken. “Autopilot is a simpler, quicker process, and that translates to less downtime for our employees.” CELDS will also use Microsoft Intune to help protect and manage employee devices in the field from day one. Lost or stolen devices can be remotely removed from company infrastructure via Intune, adding to the security of the company’s sensitive remote work.
A bright outlook
For Vanderstukken, there is little value in modernization for modernization’s sake. His goal is to create an infrastructure that adds measurable value to the company and its workers. “The approach Spikes and Microsoft FastTrack took in deploying Microsoft 365 assured that we got up and running quickly,” says Vanderstukken. “They gave us more than just tools, they gave us a whole adoption process that helped us achieve what we had set out to.”
With Microsoft 365, we can cover all of our security, mobility, and communications needs, and from a procedural standpoint we knew that Spikes and the FastTrack program would offer us much-needed insight into the deployment and adoption process.