Finnair takes to the cloud to empower employees while trimming costs by 15%




To improve customer service, increase employee effectiveness, and retain and recruit the best people, Finnair has adopted Microsoft Office 365. Employees use the cloud-based communication tools to work with one another and with partner airlines, find the information they need, and contribute great ideas to the company. Company information is accessible anytime from any device and is well protected. Not only has Finnair unified and empowered its employees; it has trimmed communications costs by 15 percent.

The airline industry has seen its share of turbulence over the last decade, as mega-airlines merge and acquire smaller players, more regional airlines take to the air, and customers aggressively seek online bargains. Finnair, Finland’s largest airline and the fifth oldest airline in the world, has remained successful because it knows how to adapt and find smarter ways to operate.


In the face of many new low-cost air carriers springing up across Europe, Finnair still dominates both domestic and international air travel in Finland. “We have survived because we’ve been successful at keeping our costs under control, but we also understand that you can’t cut costs at the expense of customer satisfaction and employee effectiveness,” says Kari Hänninen, Architect in Corporate Information Management for Finnair. “We have to compete for the best people, who want a modern work environment where they are valued and listened to.”

Because airline employees are scattered between offices, airports, and airplanes, it’s sometimes difficult for field employees to feel like they’re part of a bigger team. As part of the Oneworld airline alliance, Finnair employees often need to work with partner airlines to reroute passengers when schedules are interrupted. These interactions happened over the phone and often weren’t fast enough to create new connections for anxious travelers.

In fact, keeping customers happy and coming back is the bottom line objective at Finnair. “Passengers have more choices than ever today, and we have to make an impression with every encounter,” Hänninen says. Finnair wants every employee empowered to help customers at every touch point.

Rethink IT Delivery

When Finnair had to upgrade its email system, it took the opportunity to rethink how it delivered the IT services that underlay nearly every employee and customer experience. The airline decided that owning and running servers was not the best use of its time and budget.

Finnair also wanted to give employees an “evergreen” portfolio of technology tools that they could use to work in more modern, innovative ways. “We had all kinds of older tools that didn’t talk to one another and couldn’t be used to communicate with partners. We wanted to empower employees to solve problems faster, help customers at every point, and contribute their ideas,” Hänninen says.

Gain Rock-Solid, Spam-Free Email

Finnair decided to unplug its expensive email and file-share servers and throw away its mix of document-sharing tools. In their place, it gave employees subscriptions to Microsoft Office 365.

“We ran a small pilot program of Google Docs, but Google doesn’t work well with Office, which all employees use, and its pricing model is not that great,” Hänninen says. “Microsoft had a far stronger federated enterprise solution, better support, a more convincing story around total cost, and a more enterprise-ready, innovative solution.”


Finnair pilots, gate agents, mechanics, and office staff now have anytime, any-device access to their email, which helps keep everyone on the same page. Office 365 filters all Finnair email for spam and malware to help keep communications more secure. “We switched from Postini to Exchange Online Protection [EOP], the Office 365 spam filtering technology, in just one day,” Hänninen says. “The EOP interface is familiar and easy to use and the filtering is excellent. We get rock-solid protection with financially backed service-level agreements. And because it’s part of Office 365, it’s more cost-effective to manage.” Finnair is able to easily create targeted email filtering rules for different roles.

Get Passengers on Their Way Quickly

When bad weather, technical issues, and other events play havoc with airline schedules, Finnair customer service agents can send instant messages to partners to serve and reroute passengers. “The Office 365 conferencing and chat service makes communication so much easier,” Hänninen says. “Resolving problems like this used to take place solely over the phone in a laborious, serial, time-consuming process. We are now more proactive and have new connections ready for passengers when they step off a flight, instead of waiting for passengers to seek out a customer service desk.” Soon, Finnair will be able to also communicate with partner airlines using Office 365.

Help Employees Find Their Voice

It’s easy for Finnair gate agents, cabin crew, and pilots to feel disconnected from decisions being made at headquarters. Employees use social networking capabilities built into Office 365 to participate in relevant conversations. “It’s very easy to get a snapshot of issues, to contribute, and to invite others to join a conversation,” Hänninen says. “If you have something to contribute that could help the business, now you can. It really helps people feel that they are heard and also helps them get the information they need to make better decisions.”

Stay in Touch on the Tarmac

Most commercial pilots take laptops into the cockpit to access Electronic Flight Deck (EFD) documentation—information about the plane load, flight calculations, maps, and aircraft service history. Finnair has replaced bulky laptops with lightweight Panasonic Touchpad tablets running the Windows 8.1 operating system. Pilots and cabin crew can access not only the EFD but, soon, Office 365 services. Pilots will be able to chat with the control tower and with one another while on the tarmac, which will help them better understand the situation on the ground. Cabin crew, too, will have better insight into what’s going on outside the aircraft so that they can reassure passengers.

Reduce Costs by 15 Percent


Although the benefits of bringing its workforce closer together have been far-reaching, the reality is that there would have been no refresh unless it had involved saving money. “With Office 365, we have eliminated recurring software upgrade costs and the extra cost of Postini,” Hänninen says. “Over six years, Office 365 will be 15 percent less expensive than maintaining our own email servers. Plus, paying for software as a per-user fee makes it much easier to predict and budget.”

Once again, Finnair found a smarter way to operate. It trimmed its operating budget while giving employees modern communications tools that help them stay in touch, stay on top of problems and, as an airline, stay competitive.

Technical Info

Finnair uses Microsoft Exchange Online for anytime, anywhere, any-device email access, and Exchange Online Protection provides email spam and malware filtering. Employees use Microsoft Lync Online to find out if coworkers are at their computers and available for contact, then they can send them an instant message, phone them, or instigate a quick video call— during which they can share their screens to review documents together. The social networking tool available for group conversations is Yammer. Employees store personal work documents in OneDrive for Business and share team documents in Microsoft SharePoint Online. Finnair engaged Microsoft Services Consulting to help it deploy Office 365. Microsoft validated Finnair’s IT infrastructure readiness for Office 365, prepared rollout plans, and provisioned the services.

Microsoft Office 365

The new Office provides anywhere access to your familiar Office applications—plus email, calendar, video conferencing, and your most current documents—on almost any device, from PCs to smartphones to tablets.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:

For more information about Finnair services, visit the website at:

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