FRAMINGHAM 10 MARCH 2011 - Several companies, including Manpower (MAN) and Tampa General Hospital, are announcing on Thursday their adoption of Microsoft (MSFT) BPOS applications, pointing to progress the software giant is making in the cloud realm and also to new features and pricing models users would like to see as such software becomes a bigger part corporate IT.
Manpower, a global provider of staffing services, says it is saving about US$2.2 million annually now that, since 2009, it has migrated 20,000 employees to Exchange Online from a disparate array of outdated on-premise e-mail systems.
By the end of this year, Manpower expects to have increased that number to 30,000 mailboxes, or about 80 percent of its user base, and finish the migration next year, said Denis Edwards, the company's CIO and senior vice president.
"A challenge we were having was our ability to communicate and collaborate across our operations," Edwards said.
Manpower, which has almost 4,000 local offices in 82 countries, has also transformed the way its employees share information and collaborate globally through the use of SharePoint.
In 2009, with the global economic crisis in full force, Manpower decided to hold its annual senior leadership summit meeting virtually, using SharePoint as the technology cornerstone.
Not only did the company save about $1 million by not having to host 175 people from around the world at a conventional in-person conference, but the use of SharePoint during the meeting opened the eyes of many senior managers regarding the possibilities of collaboration software, he said.
SharePoint was used for online chats, document sharing, information exchange, video streaming and message boards.
"It went off without a hitch. No one thought we'd be able to pull this off virtually but our senior management team learned a lot about the value and power of collaboration during that meeting. That was the biggest benefit," Edwards said.
Manpower is looking closely at the next version of BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), called Office 365, particularly for its Lync Online component, an upgrade to BPOS' Office Communications Online.
BPOS also includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Office Live Meeting. While the BPOS applications are based on the 2007 versions of their on-premise counterparts, Office 365's components are based on their 2010 versions. Office 365 is currently in beta.
One thing Edwards would like to see Microsoft do with BPOS and eventually with Office 365 is to move the pricing closer to an on-demand, pay-per-use model.
"I'd like Microsoft to just charge me for CPU cycles and the storage I'm using at a point in time, instead of making me pay for a [unused mailbox space]," he said. "I'm really looking for them to evolve into that true on demand pricing model. I know it'll take a while to get there but it's something we continue to push them to do because it will give us the real flexibility we need as customers."
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