Coca-Cola Enterprises Tackles Competition with Microsoft Online Services

“In a five-month timeframe, we migrated roughly 30,000 people, without impacting their business, without interrupting their day to day operations, to a hosted solution." 

- Esat Sezer, CIO, Coca-Cola Enterprises


Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE: “CCE”) is the world's largest marketer, producer, and distributor of Coca-Cola products. Coca-Cola Enterprises’ growing product portfolio includes the world’s greatest brands and beverages which they deliver with the industry’s most effective marketplace execution. Today, they serve 419 million consumers throughout North America, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, and the Netherlands. They employ approximately 72,000 people and operate more than 431 facilities, 55,000 vehicles, and 2.4 million coolers, vending machines, and beverage dispensers.

The Business Challenge
After Coca-Cola Enterprises Chairman and CEO John F. Brock joined the company in 2006, he worked with CCE’s Executive Leadership Team and Board of Directors to create a global operating framework that required a cultural change to be embraced by all employees. In his 2007 letter to shareholders, Brock wrote about the new strategy and the impact CCE employees had on it: “Throughout the year, our people performed with determination and commitment, embracing change and clearly demonstrating their leadership and winning attitude. In addition, their effort is contributing to the successful implementation of a restructuring that is increasing our focus on our customers, improving our ability to execute in the field day-to-day, and enhancing the effectiveness of our operations.”

Coca-Cola Enterprises faced strong competition from other beverage companies and needed a way to work more effectively with their customers and partners. This required innovation and a new way of doing business within the corporation. In 2008 CCE acknowledged their current communication platforms were no longer enabling the innovation and collaboration required to take them to the next level to compete in an increasingly demanding economic environment.

Communicate with all Employees:

CCE required a centralized platform for leadership to communicate the company’s initiatives. Their messaging was based mainly around e-mail, which was unable to reach their largely mobile workforce. Brock and CIO Esat Sezer agreed that to evolve the company culture to improve customer relationships at CCE, the leadership team needed the ability to communicate with all CCE employees, especially those managing day to day operations in the field. Most of the diverse CCE personnel work in a distributed manner. Employees in manufacturing facilities had limited access to the corporate network. The mobile employees of their delivery fleet who are on the front line with the customers, making sales and positioning the CCE products in store environments, also lacked convenient access to company e-mail and content. Additionally, CCE needed a way to drive action and information to all employees in their business by role. Current infrastructure did not allow for this, making it difficult to find appropriate content in a timely manner.

Better Collaboration Between Work Teams:

Efforts to solve key business challenges across the organization were sometimes fractured and disjointed without effective collaboration tools. The IT department, led by Sezer, was tasked to provide a companywide intranet, as well as a way for self-managed team sites to be created to foster collaboration and integration across business units. The company had relied largely on e-mail-based communication for years.

IT Challenge
Diverse PCs, Vendors, and Solutions: Coca-Cola Enterprises had multiple platforms with multiple integration points which IT was responsible to maintain and understand. IT was also expected to be the experts on all of these platforms and successfully manage the infrastructure. CCE faced high administrative overhead managing non-strategic aspects of IT. With an organization as established and diverse as CCE, the IT department found it was managing as many vendors as solutions. When the new CIO asked the IT team to rationalize the infrastructure they focused on simplification and consolidation while providing a platform that was robust enough to continue to meet the unique requirements of the business.

Transform IT and Trim Costs:

The IT team set out to help transform the company culture and transform their function to enhance their focus on business strategy. They required a solution that would address these areas as well as standardize the infrastructure and trim costs. In the past, CCE’s IT department had largely been a support-focused organization. The group needed to improve their interface with the business organizations and understand how to better partner with them. Sezer challenged them to change their approach and create value-added activities within IT, which would aid the business units in solving strategic business issues. At the same time, IT needed to trim costs and more efficiently manage the infrastructure.

John Key, CCE Assistant Director of Communication and Collaboration Technologies, said, “If you looked at our legacy e-mail platform, we had more than 50 e-mail servers. Managing that type of situation required a lot of overhead. There were patches, upgrades, support, and services for all of those 50 different environments. It was costly and there was no way for our IT department to focus on value-added opportunities.” 

Deliver a Unified Collaborative Workspace and Corporate Intranet:

Taking on a new project like building a corporate intranet was exciting, yet daunting, as IT resources were engaged on many other initiatives as part of their transformation journey. IT considered leveraging partners to address their messaging needs and wanted to expand this to include the development of their corporate intranet. Both solutions needed to support mobile devices to reach employees in manufacturing facilities and the field.  


With many legacy systems, CCE had several partners providing dozens of solutions. CCE saw an opportunity to address this situation through their relationship with Microsoft. With the implementation of Microsoft Online Services and Microsoft on-premise software, CCE consolidated and streamlined their IT partnerships and enhanced their focus on providing value to the business. Key, who was also the project manager for the Microsoft Online project said, “Microsoft Online allowed our IT people to focus on the activities that would improve our business and provide value.” CCE deployed Microsoft Online and their Intranet while centralizing purchasing for Microsoft on-premise software, software services, and support.

Decision Criteria:

In their assessment of whether to upgrade the current platform or transform the company to a hosted model, they considered options presented by several major software and service providers. CCE desired a partnership where they could leverage their enterprise software on-premise with integrated software services in the cloud, and turned to Microsoft to execute upon their objectives.


Initially, Tim Smith, the Chief Information Security Officer at CCE, needed to be convinced that Microsoft would provide security measures that matched or exceeded the stringent CCE requirements. Visiting one of the Microsoft datacenters, Smith witnessed the virtual and physical security provided by Microsoft as well as the third party SAS 70 audit reports that Microsoft uses to monitor security compliance. Smith said, “Step one in getting comfortable with giving our data to Microsoft was visiting one of their datacenters. To understand the physical nature of what they’re doing to protect not only their own information, but also CCE’s, gave us a great sense of comfort that Microsoft has thought of all the right things.”

Smith and his team agreed that Microsoft met the CCE data security requirements and approved the solution to move to Microsoft Online Services managed by Microsoft. There was a fundamental shift in viewing the Microsoft Online Services’ capabilities, running in Microsoft Data Centers, as a secure extension of CCE’s own network. Smith explained, “My CIO asked me how CCE could run this any better than Microsoft? That got me thinking, Microsoft knows how to run some of the largest datacenters in the world and to secure software at an enterprise level because they already do it themselves. There was no reason for any of us at CCE to think that we could or needed to do so.”

Data replication is a benefit Smith also appreciates. He commented, “Microsoft has the ability to store our primary data in their primary data center. They also have the ability, based on our agreement, to store copies of that in real time at other data centers. This gives us a higher level of protection than we had before Microsoft Online.” Lastly, Smith added, “Security will change and does change and we have to have the flexibility to adapt at the time we need it. As a result of working with Microsoft, they have proven that they are flexible in understanding what our needs are today, and what things are around the corner.”  

Integration with Existing IT environment:

CCE decided to use the Microsoft integrated communication and collaboration tools across its entire organization to streamline communication within their large and complex organization. The Security Governance team at CCE worked with Microsoft to integrate SAP user role information into their on-premise Active Directory® service and their Microsoft Online Services environment. This will allow CCE to target the right information to the right employee based on roles outlined in SAP. This was a critical requirement of their intranet.

Messaging Migration:

Planning for the project began in mid-January 2008 and was completed by mid-May 2008. CCE’s Communications Council, a group of cross-functional leaders throughout the company, provided business owner input around the needs of the solution and guided the project owners to understand how the technology would meet the needs of the business. Sezer said, “In a five-month timeframe, we migrated roughly 30,000 people, without impacting their business, without interrupting their day to day operations, to a hosted solution. The business value comes from expanding the use of our communication collaboration technologies that we’ve built with Microsoft."

Microsoft® Exchange and Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server received “service acceptance” by July and user migration for both began in September 2008. The Microsoft team worked with Binary Tree Consulting Services to migrate from their current platform to Exchange Online, providing e-mail and communication capabilities on top of Microsoft Online Services. Using the Binary Tree’s messaging migration tools, they began the migration schedule with just 250 users per night. Due to the close integration with CCE, Microsoft, and Binary Tree, the team was able to increase migrations to 1,000 per night with less than 1 percent error rate. By the end of 2008, 23,000 users had been migrated to Exchange, 30,000 users were on SharePoint and 10,000 users had migrated from IBM Sametime to Microsoft Office Communications Server for instant messaging. CCE added Microsoft Office LiveMeeting for web and video conferencing in April 2008.

Rapid Execution and Quality:

Seeing the business need and the ability to increase their communication and collaboration capabilities, CCE was able to move very quickly to execute the migration. Kevin Flowers, Director of Enabling Technologies said, “In the space and time that our peer companies were doing just a technology upgrade, we were able to effectively migrate 30,000 people through hosted email as well as launch a whole new intranet that is used by the entire company. Microsoft is a great company with a great platform. The enterprise functionality available is superior to anything else we saw.” 


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