Why one consultancy group ditched iPhones for Microsoft’s alternative
A transport infrastructure consultancy group has swapped its iPhones for Windows Phones after deciding they are finally "good enough" for business.
Rhead Group, which provides consultants to large gas and electric projects, has rolled out Windows Phones to 100 employees, with 250 to follow, as it looks to boost integration with its other Microsoft assets.
The company had been working with work-provided iPhones but IT director Phil White told CBR that the cost of Windows Phones such as Nokia’s, coupled with the release of the 8.1 operating system, had persuaded him to make the switch.
He said: "Looking at the cost model for iPhones compared to even a top-end Windows Phone made it very attractive. From a hardware perspective the newer devices haven’t caught up but they’re now good enough. From the software perspective the 8.1 release of Windows Phone was the key tipping point for us, 8.1 makes it definitely a good enough competitor."
The decision was made after the company was looking for a technology provider to underpin its fast growth with sufficient IT infrastructure, as the firm expanded from 300 to 700 employees in just 18 months.
Realising that Rhead Group’s separately-hosted email and file storage systems would not support users in multiple countries, White and the business opted for an integrated IT platform encompassing email, file storage and collaboration tools to help staff work out of the office.
White settled on Microsoft Azure cloud in the summer of 2013 after dismissing on-premise alternatives that he doubted could support a multi-country infrastructure.
The company chose Microsoft partner Trustmarque to create the outline architecture for the migration in November 2013, then support the project, due to its strong partnership with Redmond and deep knowledge of Azure.
Another benefit of moving to the Microsoft platform was that employees were already used to Excel, making Office 365’s Azure-supported cloud capabilities a natural extension of their on-premise software.
White said: "In a nutshell it was our end users being very provisioned in Excel and wanting to keep the familiarity of Microsoft Office which led me into an Office 365 route.[It was] the Azure and Office 365 combination wrapped up in a Microsoft licensing framework that was relatively easy to manage, compared to splitting across multiple vendors."
Once deployed, White and his team realised other tools among their new Microsoft Office 365 assets were helping cut business costs unexpectedly.
"The Yammer application [for instant messaging] has been very well received, but the feature that we initially undersold was the use of Microsoft Lync for videoconferencing, which is starting to reduce our phone call bills," he said. "Our senior management and board meetings that are cross-geography now happen monthly and they’re face to face via Lync video call, which means we’re not flying everywhere quite so much."
Becoming a big Microsoft customer in this way was what persuaded White and Rhead Group to adopt Windows Phones, in the end.
He said: "They’re fine as phones, they do what they’re supposed to do, but the integration of the Office-based apps is just their killer feature."