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CIO describes how he moved 125K workers to Office 365 in 6 months

Matt Kapko | Nov. 26, 2015
The CIO of Swiss power company ABB shared details with about its decision to ditch IBM Notes and move 125,000 workers to Office 365. The migration spotlighted important lessons for IT leaders about the scalability of enterprise tools and how innovation can drive staff productivity.

Andy Tidd has IT responsibilities most technology professionals will never have to tackle. As global CIO and senior vice president of ABB, a power and automation technology company based in Switzerland, Tidd regularly makes decisions that affect more than 140,000 employees in nearly 100 countries. 

A little more than a year ago, Tidd completed one of the largest technology deployments of his career by moving 125,000 ABB employees from IBM Notes to Microsoft's Office 365. The IT veteran had handled massive IT projects before, but the move to Office 365 touched the largest number of users in the shortest period of time during his career, Tidd says.

The switch is also a significant win for Microsoft, according to Carlo Spetter, the company's global business manager, who calls it "one of the largest deployments of Office 365 to date." Microsoft won't say how many of Office 365 business customers have more 100,000 employees, but based on Spetter's comment, there likely aren't many.

Tidd began this journey more than two years ago, when the latest productivity, communication and collaboration tools made it abundantly clear that ABB needed a change, he says. Prior to the move, the company had been using a locally managed version of IBM Notes, along with a collection of voice, video and screen-sharing tools from Cisco and other vendors.

After extensive evaluation, Microsoft gets the nod

ABB, one of the world's largest engineering companies, was anxious to move its staff beyond what was then a simple mobile experience for email. Under Tidd's direction, ABB decided it wanted not only a simpler platform, but also one that kept employees engaged and connected.

ABB researched a variety of on-premises and cloud-based solutions before performing its formal evaluation, according to Tidd. "When we looked at what was available and how the services were developing, the feeling was that we didn't have to hold onto this in-house."

andy tidd cio abb
ABB Andy Tidd, ABB CIO

Microsoft received high marks in all areas ABB tested, but it was never a foregone conclusion that Microsoft would get ABB's business. "When we added everything together it was a very close decision," says Tidd. "We had an existing relationship with Microsoft, and we just felt it was a better fit in terms of both functionality and our ability to work with [Microsoft] on an enterprise level."

ABB's (mostly) smooth transition from IBM Notes to Microsoft Office 365

ABB completed the project about six months after its research project began, due in large part to an aggressive plan that moved as many as 5,000 employees to Office 365 per week, according to Tidd. The majority of ABB employees have now used Office 365 for a little more than a year, but until now Microsoft and ABB didn't discuss the project at all after it was first announced in April 2013. (Microsoft and ABB recently reached out to see with this exclusive update on the project.)


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