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Porsche Holding drives a digital future with a workplace built on the Microsoft 365 productivity cloud

Porsche Holding began as a family-owned business in 1949 when siblings Louise Piëch and Ferry Porsche launched a Volkswagen Beetle import and sales business in Austria. Today, Porsche Holding represents all Volkswagen Group brands, importing, retailing, and providing after-sales service to customers in 27 countries. The company also includes spare parts distribution, automobile financing services, and an in-house IT system development company called Porsche Informatik. Across all areas of the business, the company’s family roots strongly influence its corporate culture.

“In many cases, we act like a big family even though we are more than 30,000 employees,” says Pinia Eder, Chief Information Officer at Porsche Bank Group, which offers leasing, loans, and insurance, in addition to maintenance, fleet management, and car rental services. “Ours is a culture of mutual respect where we talk to each other in a direct way, regardless of hierarchy. For Porsche Holding, open communication and collaboration have always been an opportunity for driving business.”

Our global workforce needed better mobile and cloud-connected business productivity tools. That’s why we deployed Microsoft 365

Workplace transformation addresses industry disruptors
Global collaboration is even more important today, when the automotive industry faces disruptors such as electric and self-driving vehicles, shared cars, and connected fleets of vehicles. With Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities for data collection and machine learning, the industry is set to revolutionize services for customers who want to optimize their driving resources while reducing their impact on the environment.

“Tech-driven industry disruptors are rapidly changing how people purchase, drive, share, and service their vehicles,” says Peter Friedwagner, Head of Infrastructure and Common Platforms at Porsche Informatik. “And customers’ expectations for flexible, cloud-based online services are evolving just as quickly. We must keep up through a renewed emphasis on software development and flexible online customer service. But to make that happen, our global workforce needed better mobile and cloud-connected business productivity tools. That’s why we deployed Microsoft 365.”

Including Microsoft Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, Microsoft 365 is the productivity cloud that connects people and information in intelligent, highly secure new ways. Using Windows 10 Enterprise as the operating system of choice means Porsche Holding can take advantage of the interoperability between Windows 10 and Microsoft Intune for modern workplace management. Using Intune for unified endpoint management will simplify operations while speeding up delivery of workstations to users.

As Porsche Holding positions itself as a tech-savvy organization that’s capable of taking on the world of digital automotive services, Eder reaffirms the concept of open communications and business opportunity. “Our future is all about company-wide collaboration via a standard set of tools,” says Eder. “Porsche Holding chose Microsoft 365 to connect people and information intelligently so that we can work together to grasp business opportunities without worrying about the technology.”

Given the diversity of services that Porsche Holding provides, it’s even more important to offer a standard set of productivity tools so that employees in dealerships, headquarters, warehouses, and logistics centers, including a significant cadre of software developers, can all connect and work at the same high level of productivity. “It’s a significant part of our employer branding strategy to offer a cool workplace for all employees,” says Herbert Lohninger, Head of Digital Workplace Services at Porsche Informatik. “We see the physical office environment as a critical factor for recruiting new talent. Employees need a mobile way of working that empowers them to interact easily with colleagues, partners, and customers through simplified knowledge sharing. Office 365 ProPlus fills that role.”

Porsche Holding started to build awareness of the upcoming changes in its business technology by putting an Office 365 demonstration booth next to the cafeteria at its headquarters. The company worked with the Microsoft FastTrack team to streamline mailbox migration from on-premises IBM Notes to Microsoft Exchange, and peer counselling and workshops introduced the other apps and services to the workforce. To date, 6,000 office workers and software developers now use Office 365 ProPlus, with a further 20,000 employees expected to join them by the end of 2019.

Enhanced security powers mobile productivity
Porsche Informatik chose Microsoft 365 for Porsche Holding not only for its interoperable business tools, but for its state-of-the-art security features. Porsche Informatik defined the company’s top security requirements as identity, data, and device protection. For each area, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security component in Microsoft 365 offers a solution that works well in the Office 365 environment. “The intersection of security and usability is a key benefit of Microsoft 365,” says Lohninger.

Interoperable security services also simplify the delivery of a mobile-first workplace. “Compared to building a mobile device management solution on top of our Office 365 environment, Microsoft Intune provides what we need with no extra work,” says Friedwagner.

For identity protection, key capabilities within Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium, such as Azure Multi-Factor Authentication and conditional access, work with Intune to dynamically adjust security requirements depending on an employee’s device and environment. “Today, we require multi-factor access for all employees,” says Friedwagner. “This works well with conditional access policies, which allow seamless and highly secure usage of both private and company devices. A practical example of conditional access policies is the use of encrypted app containers, which do not allow data processing of company data with unmanaged apps on private devices. And we use Azure Information Protection for data classification to protect our documents. These overall security improvements to our organization can be accomplished within an integrated system that understands the context of a device and the location of the user.”

IT is seen as the group that’s driving modernization and innovation at the company

To enable the use of mobile devices for all of its employees, including Firstline Workers in warehouses and dealerships, Porsche Informatik takes advantage of Intune for mobile application management. The IT team uses Intune to separate personal data from work data for employees using both personal and corporate-owned devices. Today, warehouse managers carrying their smartphones can use Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, and Outlook to communicate with the logistics center in Salzburg, and service consultants in a dealership can use smartphones to stay connected to corporate news via email or access HR documents on a Microsoft SharePoint site. All the while, IT doesn’t need to worry about corporate information being saved to these devices.

“The business value of Intune is that we’re increasing mobility for all sectors of our workforce in a very secure fashion,” says Friedwagner. “Since we brought these capabilities to Porsche Holding, the use of mobile apps has increased by 50 percent. Employees have the flexibility they require to increase the overall speed at which the company operates. And today, IT is seen as the group that’s driving modernization and innovation at the company.”

With enhanced security for anytime, anywhere work environments, Porsche Holding employees are free to collaborate virtually when and where it suits them—without worrying about VPN solutions or data leakage. This answers a challenge that Eder observes as the company adapts to a more digital way of doing business. “It used to be that our main contact with customers was through the salesperson in auto retail showrooms,” says Eder. “But today, this is shifting to more direct contact with customers via online communications.”

Enhanced collaboration boosts relationships
Now that security capabilities extend across the Microsoft 365 environment, sharing corporate information within a Teams workspace is a viable option. Employees are adopting Teams, a central hub for meetings, chat, and content sharing, as the foundation for enriching relationships with customers and external partners such as marketing agencies and other development shops.

“Porsche Holding IT used to be a fairly closed system, but this is changing significantly with our digital transformation,” says Friedwagner. “Thanks to Teams, the capability to easily work with partners like HP Enterprise in highly secure digital environments is a real bonus for us. And it’s also true that providing a state-of-the-art workplace environment greatly supports innovations of developers who are working on our business and financial services systems.”

Global connections drive IT innovation and efficiency
Teams also facilitates sharing ideas within the company. The DIM Team (Digital Innovation Management) at Porsche Informatik includes data scientists, virtual reality specialists, and project managers from different countries. Today, their connections are immediate and virtual, with members using the chat translation feature in Teams to communicate in their native languages. “Teams is a user-friendly tool for this group,” says Lohninger. “When group members work together in a Teams channel, it’s easy to communicate using the translation option. Today, there are no geographical or linguistic barriers to collaboration and innovation at Porsche Holding.”

Porsche Bank leads the organization in using Teams in conjunction with Office 365 ProPlus apps to expedite IT project management. Office 365 ProPlus provides enhanced capabilities for virtual teamwork in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office documents. “Compared to the dated releases, Office 365 ProPlus brings the continuous release model to business productivity services,” says Friedwagner. “And with Office 365 ProPlus, it’s easier to collaborate with interoperable cloud tools, such as Teams and OneDrive. So, instead of email-based collaboration on Word documents, everyone uses Teams as a central storage place for up-to-date files.”

Thanks to Microsoft 365 productivity tools, we’re able to decrease the time to market for our products

Through Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint, employees create documents and define all the participants in an IT project, so everyone can collaborate on them. “Even though we’re not always in the same location, we chat and coauthor documents and use @mention to notify each other when a change has been made,” says Eder. “This accelerates IT projects and saves time for everyone involved. Thanks to Microsoft 365 productivity tools, we’re able to decrease the time to market for our products.”

Friedwagner also credits Teams with more efficient software development, a boon to the central Porsche Informatik group in Salzburg, which oversees and coordinates projects with several IT partners around the world. Thanks to the custom connectors that are available in Teams, Porsche Informatik connects its Teams workspaces to Dynatrace, an application monitoring system, so that developers receive monitoring messages in one place.

“Teams becomes an aggregator of events happening in the infrastructure environment because it acts like the front end of the monitoring system,” says Friedwagner. “It’s a nice use case that shows how versatile Teams is. Our staff uses the persistent chat in Teams to work virtually with external developers as if they’re all in the same room. It allows for faster issue-resolution throughout the lifecycle of a software project.”

Virtual teamwork streamlines quality management
According to Stefan Mitterdorfer, Process and Quality Management at Porsche Holding, both Teams and Microsoft Planner are used to streamline process and quality management at the logistics center in Salzburg. At least once a month, the quality management team performs quality audits in the warehouse, such as checking product packaging processes that must be followed according to company standards.

“Any discoveries had to be written down and entered into a large spreadsheet, and task assignments were then emailed to individuals. Following up was also a matter of emailing back and forth,” says Mitterdorfer. “Today, I use the Planner app on an iPad to quickly upload photos, assign tasks, and make notes—all without leaving the shop floor. I can then monitor all the tasks I’ve assigned on the dashboard. It’s a huge boost to my productivity and simplifies what used to be a complicated business process.”

Continuity across devices boosts productivity
Personal productivity is also increasing as employees experience work continuity across locations and devices. “When I’m in a meeting, I take notes on my smartphone using Microsoft OneNote, and then back in the office I can open them up on my laptop,” says Mitterdorfer. “And if I’m on my computer in the office but need to go into the warehouse, I can access all my information in real time on my mobile device because my files are stored on OneDrive. All my content is available on all my devices—it’s the perfect scenario for me.”

As Porsche Holding uses Microsoft 365 to boost agility across its diverse workforce, from management to the warehouse floor, it’s become a more digitally focused organization that’s collaborating across new boundaries to accelerate the pace of business. “One of our executives said that we previously operated by building a wall around our organization and then optimized our operations inside it,” says Friedwagner. “But today, we need to open up to new ecosystems, new ways of working to quickly innovate new business models. As Microsoft 365 tools become integrated into the way we work at Porsche Holding, we’re using them to drive the business forward.”

Find out more about Porsche Holding on LinkedIn.