February 8, 2017 3:30 pm

MARS future looking sweeter with Microsoft technology

By / Director of Product Marketing, Windows Commercial

Windows 10, Office 365 and Azure help create a productive, modern digital workplace.

Whether it’s grabbing gum at checkout, satisfying late-afternoon hunger with a Milky Way ®, or even buying pet food for that unconditional loving best friend, we’ve all been surrounded by MARS products and might not even know it! As a century-old family-owned business, MARS has certainly found its recipe for success. The company has made $35 billion in global sales by putting people first in everything they do. With 60 brands across six segments from food, drinks, chocolate, confectionary (gum), pet care and symbioscience, the company is more than just sweet treats. MARS understands a long-term vision that is committed to product, technology and workplace innovation based on the company’s Five Principles– Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom.

MARS has long valued a workplace that encourages mutuality and open communication among all Associates. As MARS looks at new products, services and business units to accelerate its growth, it knows a digital transformation would not only bolster its already collaborative and productive work environment but also attract and retain employees who expect a modern workplace. MARS is deploying Windows 10 to its more than 80,000 associates who work across 400 locations in 78 countries. Windows 10, along with Office 365 and Microsoft Azure, is enabling MARS to digitally transform how its Associates not only work with each other, but how they get work done.

“At MARS, we meet our goals,” says David Boersma, Senior Manager for End User Technologies, MARS, Incorporated. “This company will continue to accelerate its growth organically and through acquisition and we’re using Windows 10 to build the flexibility and capabilities we need to get there.”

— David Boersma, Senior Manager for End User Technologies, MARS, Incorporated

MARS has deployed Windows 10 to help reduce the cost and time associated with large-scale deployments. With a company that spans multiple geographies, its previous upgrades had taken up to four years and cost $4 million. According to Boersma, “Windows 10, on the other hand, has been substantially quicker and with less cost.” The “Windows as a Service” model has allowed MARS to skip the lengthy upgrade cycle which has resulted in accelerated Windows 10 deployment. Originally, MARS set out to deploy Windows 10 to 5,000 Associates in 12 months. Although, it has already exceeded its goal by 110 percent by deploying Windows 10 to 12,500 Associates and is now looking to scale to all Associates by 2018.

By embracing the “Windows as a Service” model, MARS has been able to refocus the time and energy of its IT department from chasing the next operating system update to strengthening its collaborative culture through Office 365, including Yammer and Skype for Business.

“Rather than tying up investment and time to just get through the next product release, we can focus on enhancing key aspects of our culture like mutuality at a digital level, across divisions, borders and time zones – so we can preserve what is special about MARS and help our Associates be more productive and agile.”

— Jonathan Chong, Digital Workplace and Corporate Systems Director at MARS, Incorporated
MARS associates collaborate while using their Windows 10 devices.

MARS associates collaborate while using their Windows 10 devices.

This highly collaborative company has helped create a place where many associates stay 25 years. Although, with its new goal set, MARS wanted to digitally transform not only how its associates work but also attract the next generation of workers.

“We invest a lot of money in attracting and retaining talent. These people now expect a modern, productive work environment and this includes the type of devices we provide and the tools they use at work every day. Products like Windows 10, Skype for Business and Yammer support our engagement and talent management strategies.”

— Paul L’Estrange, CTO and Vice President of Core Services, MARS, Incorporated
MARS Associates use Skype for Business to collaborate.

MARS Associates use Skype for Business to collaborate.

MARS is seeing the positive impact Skype for Business has had on its culture and Associate work-life balance. With Skype for Business, MARS has reduced travel, as Associates now use Skype for Business to tackle projects and resolve issues in real-time.

“We like a lot of human interaction and we’ve been able to use Skype for Business to help us increase that level of collaboration but not necessarily have the person fly half way around the planet. We’ve been able to reduce our overall travel which has been great from a cost perspective. But, we’ve helped positively impact people’s work life balance so they can spend more time at home yet they can still do the business that they need to do around the globe.”

— Joe Carlin, Technology Service Delivery Director, MARS, Incorporated

MARS is also seeing Associates quickly embrace Yammer, as another way to connect and share knowledge. Vittorio Cretella, CIO of MARS, Incorporated says Yammer is “taking down those walls around knowledge and making it accessible which is very valuable.”

MARS associate uses Windows 10 devices to conduct store walk-through.

MARS associate uses Windows 10 devices to conduct store walk-through.

Windows 10 provides MARS the flexibility with the types of devices its Associates and Senior Leaders can use to get work done whether at home, in the office or on the road. Senior Leaders and Associates can now use everything from Surface Pro to OEM devices to help fit their unique work styles. Previously, an associate conducting a store walk-through would have to juggle multiple devices and paper to make note of any product display issues. Once the Associate returned to the office, they’d connect with their peers to resolve the issue. This process could take several days to a week depending on their travel. Today, many issues can be resolved on the spot.

“By using Windows 10, MARS associates now finish things on the road instead of waiting until they get back to the office. For example, field associates use their Surface Pro devices in store walk-throughs, and if necessary, use Office 365 to connect with other team members and resolve display issues in one day instead of a week.”

— Joe Carlin, Technology Service Delivery Director, MARS, Incorporated

With a more on-the-go workforce, MARS has strengthened security and data protection for its Associates who are on their smartphones, tablets or their PCs from the office, at home or on the road. As a privately-owned company, MARS takes security seriously especially when it comes to its intellectual property. MARS has enabled Windows security features like BitLocker to encrypt data and Windows Defender to provide a strong layer of security and authentication.

To ensure MARS can do business securely in the cloud and fully realize its digital transformation, MARS has only just begun its journey with Microsoft Azure to enable greater efficiency and reliability. Currently, MARS has two global datacenters that run 85 percent of its business with one datacenter being 25 years old which requires significant cost resources and time to maintain. Now, MARS is currently testing a hybrid cloud model and recently moved its first live production application, a retail app, into Microsoft Azure as well as about 150 other workloads with the expectation to expand to 500-600 workloads over the next year.

We’re excited to see that with Windows 10, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365, MARS is able to foster a modern and productive workplace that will support the company’s ambitious growth strategy. For more detailed information about MARS’ deployment of Microsoft technologies, please check out the case study and video here.