From manufacturers to retailers, European companies run on Microsoft Dynamics in the cloud

Companies big and small are turning to cloud technologies to keep their customers happy. At this year’s Convergence 2014 Europe, Microsoft is celebrating a handful of companies doing just that, and recognizing them with the 2014 Europe Customer Excellence Awards. The winners are diverse in many ways, but they all have one commonality: They understand the value that business insights and collaboration tools can play in delivering amazing customer experiences.

One such company is Victrex, this year’s winner of the Industry Excellence: Manufacturing award. The leading producer of cutting-edge polymeric solutions is in the business of creating innovative technologies that help customers maximize performance. Unfortunately, its legacy business management solution wasn’t nimble enough to keep pace.

Companies across industries, from medical to industrial, rely on Victrex’s raw material supplies to create durable products that last — but Victrex was missing opportunities because of its internal system complexity. More than 60 independent systems were in place, making it difficult to collect data and to share information across business groups. These challenges drove operational costs up and manufacturing efficiency down.

“A fundamental change had to happen if we wanted to grow bigger than we are today,” says James Fleming, group IT director at Victrex. “We were disconnected across the company, and we were basing decision-making on what we believed rather than on hard facts.”

The company worked with Microsoft Cloud Partner of the Year Zero2Ten to evaluate and implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM within 12 weeks; Microsoft Dynamics AX is currently being deployed throughout the business using the U.K.-based partner IBRL. Fleming acknowledges that the manufacturing industry as a whole is over-reliant on manual processes, and that Victrex gains a competitive advantage by consolidating its disparate systems into one cloud solution.

As they’re rolling out the full suite, Victrex employees already have improved visibility into sales and supplies, so they can manage customer demands in a more efficient way. They now see sales cycle data, cost of manufacture, warehouse turnaround rates, and many other trends they hadn’t previously tracked.

“I love to deploy software solutions that make my colleagues’ lives easier,” Fleming says. “To see the reaction when we show how much more effective they can be in a shorter amount of time is priceless.”

Since implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Victrex experienced a 13 percent revenue increase in the first six months of 2014, compared with the same timeframe in 2013. The whole organization now has a view into customer dashboards, and improved business insights have motivated Victrex to consider deploying other Microsoft solutions, such as Office 365 and Microsoft Power BI.

Even young startups can reap benefits from a customized CRM solution. North South Wines, a wine importer based in the U.K. and winner of the Technology Innovation: Small and Medium Business award, needed a cost-effective system that allowed its employees to remain productive and access information from virtually anywhere.

“All our employees travel a great deal and work remotely,” says Hamish Gillespie, finance and operations director at North South Wines. “We need to have access to all company data wherever we are to deliver excellent customer service.”

Gillespie and his colleagues are passionate wine lovers who aim to import and deliver high-quality wines at low prices. Cashflow was a major challenge as North South Wines prepared to open its doors in May 2014, and the eight-person team needed to deploy a user-friendly system for efficient cash management to be successful.

North South Wines decided an end-to-end cloud solution would best meet business and customer needs.

“Our customers have high expectations,” Gillespie says. “Implementing a cloud-based solution avoids the need to invest in IT infrastructure, and it means we have a solution that can quickly adapt and scale to projected growth.”

Partnering with TVT Cloud Ltd., North South Wines built its Web presence using Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Office 365 on Microsoft Azure. From start to finish, implementation took less than a month, and the solution’s go-live date coincided with the company’s launch. The low cost enabled North South Wines to begin sales operations with minimal operational, IT and administrative expenses.

When working directly with customers, employees can quickly pull up information about wine inventory, helping to delight customers on the spot. Important decisions are based on the sales data that Microsoft Dynamics NAV provides, including sales, margins, financial reports and logistics.

“Our business model is not only cost-effective, but it adds value by helping us recognize trends and deliver on those in a timely fashion,” Gillespie says. “We want to deliver good wines to good people. Microsoft Dynamics NAV gives us instant access to live data, ensuring we sell the best available — whether it’s red, white or something in between.”

To learn more about Victrex, North South Wines and other companies reinventing productivity with Microsoft Dynamics, visit http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/convergence/europe14.