reborn55 - Fotolia

M&S credits Office 365 with rise in staff collaboration and communication

Marks and Spencer shares details of how moving to Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite has ushered in an era of ”smarter working” in its retails stores and corporate HQ

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has deployed Microsoft Office 365 as part of a wider digital “smarter working” push designed to help boost collaboration between the staff in its network of retail sites and its corporate headquarters.

The company operates 900 stores in the UK, as well as a further 460 across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Three years ago, it embarked on a push to boost communication between its retail sites, as well as the distribution centres and head offices that support their operations.

As part of this push, Marks and Spencer also wanted to make it easier for staff to use mobile devices, prompting the firm to deploy Microsoft’s cloud-based business productivity suite, Office 365.

Carl Dawson, IT director for Marks and Spencer, shared details of the deployment in a Microsoft blog post. He credited the roll-out of Office 365 with bringing about some noticeable changes in how its stores and its staff operates.

He said this is a direct result of employees making full use of cloud-based services, such as the enterprise social platform Yammer, Microsoft’s online storage offering OneDrive for Business, as well as Office 2016 and Skype for Business.

“The change in culture I’m seeing in stores – where employees are using laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices to communicate with colleagues and head office – not only speeds up decision-making, but increases engagement with the business and drives employee motivation,” he said.

“Employees are making decisions more quickly, collaborating more effectively with a wider set of people and engaging more fully with the business.”

Read more about Microsoft Office 365 deployments

Dawson joined Marks and Spencer in 2014 from supermarket giant Tesco, where he led the firm’s internet-retailing initiatives. Since then he has played an instrumental role in continuing the retailer’s push to build out e-commerce offerings and encourage greater use of technology in its stores.  

As part of its Office 365 use, the retailer has used Sharepoint Online to consolidate its staff intranet portals, having previously operated two separate sites – one designed for use by its store-based employees and the other for staff in its corporate headquarters.

This has resulted in the creation of a single, M&S World-branded intranet, which provides its 80,000 staff with access to 40,000 documents about the business with any type of device.

“Distributed teams and departmental groups are collaborating on long-term projects more effectively with our new intranet. Having all our documents and digital resources in one place saves everyone time,” added Dawson.

News of Microsoft’s work with Marks and Spencer coincides with the firm’s announcement about the general availability of Sharepoint Server 2016. The software giant said the release is designed to improve the user experience for both on-premise and cloud-based deployments of the content collaboration hub.

Read more on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)