There are three big players in cloud computing – Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Despite the stiff competition between these three, Microsoft Azure is emerging as the force to be reckoned with. Enterprise is the fundamental customer for Azure – so exactly how do businesses use it to their advantage?
Booking travel online is exceptionally popular because it can be done in just a few clicks. What you might not realise is that behind the scenes there are databases searching thousands of flights and possible combinations in mere nanoseconds. If the system crashes, the customer will simply navigate to a competitor’s site. The online travel agency, Serko was acutely aware of this problem and in 2013 it migrated the entire online operation from its own datacentre to Microsoft Azure. Azure has allowed Serko to rapidly scale its systems, increasing both transaction speed and customer satisfaction.
3M is one of the world’s largest manufacturers, producing more than 55,000 products for industry. One new product optimises parking operations by automating fee collection and other services. In order to improve support, 3M needed to automate the process of data collection and reporting. It needed to know which 3M systems were in use and where. An app was developed to run in Azure giving not just remote access but also ensuring customers could access the relevant data when they needed to.
Pearson used to specialise in printed textbooks but that is far too old-school for the modern education market. Pearson needed to develop a new strategy to meet 21st century challenges. Using Azure, it created the Pearson System of Courses, which is a tablet-based curriculum used by around 85,000 students in the US. Creating this was a huge technological challenge. Cloud computing allowed the huge development team to collaborate and create the application. It also needed Azure to host the large volume of data. The app represents a revolution in education that was only made possible through Azure.
Marks & Spencer
The retail giant uses Microsoft Azure to foster collaboration between its 80,000 employees. M&S World is an intranet portal that is accessed by both corporate and retail staff. Given the Office 365 toolkit, it allows staff to work together on projects no matter where they are. It also has a chat function so colleagues can help improve customer service on a national level. Other functions like store inspections are also undertaken through its portal on Azure. It has allowed M&S to improve customer service, increase productivity and collaboratively shape the future of the business.
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