Today’s post was written by Mark McKelvey, vice president of information technology at Brooks Running Company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
I’m a runner and I work in IT, so I couldn’t have found a better fit than Brooks Running Company, where we get deep into the biomechanics and technology of creating great running shoes. In 2001, our CEO, Jim Weber, pivoted the brand to focus solely on running. This corporate running culture encourages a single-minded focus on doing one thing really, really well: providing runners with the best running footwear, apparel, and accessories to promote a healthy lifestyle. My role in IT is to work with the business to provide the technology to support that strategy.
That’s why we are very heavily focused on cloud computing at Brooks. Cloud technology reduces barriers to productivity so we can continue to hone our specialty products. For IT, that means not wasting time with on-premises servers, so we can work with IT solutions directly related to our business. And for the workplace, that means each employee enjoys easy access to the tools and the information they need for their role, from anywhere. Microsoft cloud computing forms a big part of this strategy. We’ve been on the cloud journey for a while, and with Microsoft 365 E3 we’ve taken another step toward winning the race to productivity.
I am really excited about the possibilities inherent in a unified Microsoft cloud platform, from Microsoft Azure to Dynamics CRM to Microsoft 365. This platform is a cost-effective way to boost agility and deliver IT services to the business. The public cloud has also helped a whole new set of small, agile players to deliver innovative solutions based on the same Azure cloud platform that we use. For example, it was a seamless process for Brooks to take advantage of a great new B2B solution from Neocles, a small company in the Netherlands. We deployed the platform worldwide and introduced a mobile app—all to rave reviews from our retailers. When we make it easier for retailers to do business with Brooks, it’s good for their business and ours.
We’re also disrupting the industry and leveraging our biomechanical expertise using the Azure platform to build an app that helps customers find the best running shoe for their personal gait. “Run Signature” is a gait analysis tool that’s breaking new ground in delivering customized support for customers. All the information that we capture from this app flows to Azure, where it’s stored for our biomechanics team to further advance the science of running—and our competitive advantage.
That’s why it’s so important that we protect our intellectual property. We use the multilevel security capabilities in Microsoft 365—multifactor authentication, data loss prevention, and legal hold—to add layers of security to our modern workplace. And we have completed our Windows 10 deployment, which supports highly secure, mobile access to data on any device. We are a global company, and we expect Windows 10 to be a boon for protecting the information on employee devices as they travel from our Seattle headquarters to our factories in Asia or our sales offices in Canada and Europe.
Enhancing collaboration among employees around the world is another benefit we’re exploring with our intranet, called “Inside Track,” which is based in SharePoint Online. With different time zones and work environments, we use Microsoft 365 real-time collaboration apps and highly secure mobile access to data as the foundation for a more flexible way of working at Brooks—from changing the physical layout of our headquarters to supporting work from home, hotel rooms, or airports. These tools, just like our gear, deliver what it takes to run your best race.
For more on the Brooks move to a modern workplace, read the full case study.