Guinness World Records
Exponential-e migrate Guinness World Records' global workforce to Office 365
About the Guinness World Records
For over 62 years, Guinness World Records (GWR) has produced The Guinness Book of World Records, a book that documents record-breaking achievements and that itself holds a record: having sold 141 million copies, it's the best-selling copyrighted book of all time. In spite of these gargantuan sales figures and a globe-spanning reputation, the book has been and continues to be pulled together by a relatively small (but geographically dispersed) in-house team.
As a company, however, GWR has been expanding. Today, GWR is no longer only a book publisher - it is a multimedia brand agency with key presence across Digital, Events and Business Solutions. Working with leading brands and businesses, GWR delivers bespoke marketing campaigns, using record-breaking events to create inspirational, highly shareable content.
To kick off its Cloud migration, GWR enlisted Exponential-e to migrate 200 of its employees from the existing onpremises Exchange to Office 365. Rob Howe knew that Microsoft's cloud-based business productivity suite would help overcome the challenges to collaboration posed by the company's geographic spread, enabling its workforce to collaborate to deliver engaging experiences and capitalise on market opportunities across the globe.
He also knew that Exponential-e would be the perfect partner to see GWR through this crucial first phase towards digitisation. Exponential-e had been providing critical communications services to GWR - from private connectivity between UK data centres and GWR's Beijing office to 10Gbps connectivity and hosted telephony - for close to five years. The mutual trust and understanding that this work had built between GWR and Exponential-e laid the groundwork for a remarkably speedy and successful Office 365 transition.
As Howe comments: "Our previous experience with Exponential-e gave me peace of mind. I know that they do what they say they will." Laying the foundations for a "painless" project Planning for the project began in July 2017. By September, work had started, with the core migration completed, as planned, in November. In order to complete a complex migration in less than three months, Exponential-e's team had to ensure the process would go off without a hitch.
And, in fact, it did: looking back on the process, Rob Howe describes the migration as "painless". In his view, this painlessness of execution was due largely to Exponential-e's meticulous planning.
"They are really good at going through things in detail and making sure they understand the business and key dates, rather than just the technology," says Howe.
Office 365 is also playing a crucial part in enabling GWR' IT department to transform its business function. It is proving extremely effective in helping the department to execute its strategic goal of supporting flexibility and mobility. Again, OneDrive provides a striking example to illustrate this, eliminating the need to move user files between machines, and greatly reducing the time it takes for the IT department to roll out PCs and devices to staff. Howe: "We've gone from rolling out one machine in a day and a half to rolling out two a day, which is a big improvement."
A key milestone on the path to the future It's improvements like this that are freeing GWR's IT department up to play a more proactive role in the wider business. And this, as Howe explains, is in turn helping GWR as a whole to move forward with its technology agenda and expand as a business:
"The Office 365 project has allowed our department to take a big step forward in becoming more flexible and responsive - and less reactive - to the business. It's allowing us to get out in front, which is key, especially as we continue to expand and diversify as a business and add new services."
The "painless" success of this project, GWR's first major foray into cloud, has been crucial in giving Rob Howe and his colleagues the confidence to continue heading in the direction of digitisation. "Going forward, every year there will be something new we're looking to expand into," he says, "so this was a key first step, and if it hadn't gone smoothly it would have made everything else far more challenging."
The Office 365 project has allowed our department to take a big step forward in becoming more flexible and responsive – and less reactive - to the business. It's allowing us to get out in front, which is key, especially as we continue to expand and diversify as a business and add new services.Rob Howe IT Director, Guinness World Records.
"We cannot be confined by old ways of working…"
The rapid growth and diversification of GWR as a business over the past five years has equired a radical rethinking of its technology requirements. Under the guidance of Rob Howe, IT Director at GWR for six years, the company has pursued a strategy of digitisation, encompassing infrastructure, service delivery and security.
This strategy is underpinned by an overhauling of GWR's internal setup from an infrastructure and applications perspective. GWR's IT department has embraced the cloud, recognising that this supports the business's push to become more flexible, agile and dynamic in order to cope with the demands of a growing business.
Rob Howe explains: "It is the IT department's job to make sure we can respond to the ever-growing changes within our business model, so we can take up new opportunities and move into new markets. Going forward, cloud gives us far more flexibility to grow, rather than being constrained, and that's always my focus – that we have more options than less."
GWR is a truly global company; in the last six years the company's corporate footprint has oubled from three offices to six, with sites in London, Miami, New York, Dubai, Beijing and Tokyo, with additional remote workers placed at over 15 locations.
- Migration of global workforce from on premise Microsoft Exchange to Microsoft Office 365 (including OneDrive storage).
- Workforce empowered to work flexibly and collaborate across geographic distances.
- GWR's IT department freed to take on proactive role within business.