May 27, 2014, 2:33 PM

Web-based software improves communications for a Danish manufacturer

Copenhagen-based Velux Group is on course to save close to $1 million a year in networking costs while fielding more effective and efficient teams of sales reps and service personnel connected on the web across more than 35 countries, the company says.

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Customers are getting more demanding and competition is growing across the globe for Velux Group, a manufacturer of skylights, windows, window blinds and other items for builders. “Customers keep asking more of us,” chief financial officer Peter Bang says.

One way the Copenhagen, Denmark-based company has responded is by connecting its globally distributed network of manufacturing, sales and service facilities. “We need to allocate our resources to provide strong local sales presence instead of spending them on duplicate administration,” Bang says. “We need to operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and reinvest those savings into building better products at low prices. And in order to do so, we need our employees to be able to communicate and collaborate with each other.”

Velux operates manufacturing facilities in 11 countries and sales and service offices across more than 35 countries. Its United States operation, Velux America Inc., is based in Fort Mill, SC.

Last fall, it migrated more than 5,500 employees across the globe to a new networking and business software system from Microsoft Corp., which connects them through the web with centralized company software for accessing information on Velux policies, products and customer records. The employees use Microsoft Office Online for browser-based access to Microsoft Office applications and Microsoft Exchange Online for e-mail and calendaring, Velux says. They also use Microsoft’s Lync Online to network with regional offices and headquarters via web conferencing and instant messaging; employees can also share files and communicate through dedicated company web portals through Microsoft SharePoint Online.

Sofie Irgens, head of I.T. business management at Velux Group, describes the Microsoft software suite as “enterprise-ready, easy to administer and easy to use.” She adds that Velux is “saving up to 5 million Danish krone (US$914,000) annually in hardware and licensing costs” over the company’s former internal networking system. “This money can be reinvested in improving our manufacturing process and in product innovation.”

“Sales reps can visit more architects, dealers, and installers and be more prepared when they get there because they use Office 365 to instant message with colleagues at the office using their smartphones,” Irgens says. “Helping our sales reps to be fully productive on the road enhances our local service. They could use one device to upload CRM data, work with Office applications, and deliver stellar customer presentations.”

Adds Bang: “Instead of running finance centrally from headquarters, we have regional finance managers located around the world. “We get the best of both worlds—streamlined global operations informed by local knowledge—because it takes just a few clicks to initiate a web conference and bring everyone together.”

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