Q: Please tell us about Hersing Corporation.
Seah: Hersing is based in Singapore, and we provide real estate brokerage, property management, money transfer, and brand management services for global brands such as ERA, RIA, Coldwell Banker, and Western Union. We have more than 5,000 employees and agents throughout South East Asia.
Q: Why did you want to manage your messaging and collaboration with cloud technology?
Seah: We managed an internal email system for our 200 office employees, but we had almost 5,000 field agents communicating with everything from Google Mail or Yahoo, to text messaging with their mobile phones. Everybody—employees and agents—used every kind of mobile device you can name. In all those domains, messages were sometimes delayed or filtered as spam, and attachments got lost or corrupted. Communication is fast-paced in real estate, and we need to send and receive photographs, documents, and agreements quickly and reliably. We needed a standardized corporate domain, but we knew that building an on-premises messaging environment for 5,000 scattered users would require a heavy investment in infrastructure.
Q: Why did you choose Microsoft Office 365 instead of Google Apps?
Seah: We spent almost four weeks evaluating Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 side by side. We used each solution to compose, send, and manage messages, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and calendar items, and Office 365 appeared to be the right choice from the very beginning. Cost is one factor, but we also wanted a familiar interface that our employees could adopt quickly with minimal disruption. We didn’t think Google Apps was rich enough compared to the Microsoft tools we were familiar with, and we thought that Office 365 was more appropriate for enterprise. Google Apps is divided in separate modules, but Office 365 is integrated into a single suite that interoperates well with other solutions. And by choosing Office 365, we can provide our employees with instant messaging, web conferencing, and document sharing capabilities far superior than Google Apps.
Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365?
Seah: By adopting Office 365, we are making it easier for our employees and agents to communicate, cooperate, and serve customers more effectively. All of our 5,000 employees and agents will communicate from a common domain, which will help us serve customers better, be more competitive, and maintain a positive business identity. Without having to invest in a large internal infrastructure, we have the agility to scale up Office 365 as we add new field agents and expand into new markets. We avoided [US]$100,000 in infrastructure costs and saved $200,000 in licensing and admin costs for third-party instant messaging, web conferencing, and document sharing solutions. Google had gaps we would have had to fill, but when we subscribed to Office 365, we had a working enterprise solution right from the start.