KPIT, a product engineering and IT consulting firm, was witnessing a steady growth rate of more than 40 percent per annum since 2011. For any company that finds itself on such a growth trajectory, the ability to maintain and extend their competitive advantage is paramount.
With such a focus, KPIT was exploring solutions that would help the company streamline its processes and increase its productiveness and competitiveness.
In keeping with the company’s focus on new technologies, Mandar Marulkar, VP-IT, KPIT Technologies, turned to Microsoft to have their user systems upgraded to the latest version of the Windows 8 Enterprise OS. What is remarkable here is that Marulkar was planning this upgrade even though the company had just migrated onto Windows 7 within the past year, with that migration having completed in April 2012. At a time, when organizations haven’t yet moved from Win XP, the Win 8 migration drive speaks volumes of KPIT’s desire to gain a competitive advantage by leveraging the benefits of the latest advances in technology.
Moreover, having already invested heavily in a Microsoft EA(Enterprise Agreement), the company was looking to maximize its returns on this investment. It helped that under such a provision the company is, as Marulkar puts it, entitled to use newer versions of Microsoft’s software.
“From a licensing point of view, there was no (extra) cost involved, as we are covered under the software assurance,” Marulkar explains.
KPIT had started evaluating the new OS around June of 2012 and found Win 8 much to their liking.
“We saw the power of Win 8 on laptops,” says Marulkar.
Having seen the benefits of using the new OS, KPIT, a global IT consulting services organization with a 8,500 strong workforce, started working with Microsoft in August 2012, with the software giant deploying one of their partners at KPIT’s side to help in testing the Win 8 compatibility of the various apps used at KPIT.
“We spent almost one and half months testing the 150 + apps that are required by the IT organization,” adds Marulkar.
In the course of testing, Marulkar found that all their apps that were running on Windows 7 were upward compatible with Windows 8 and “working seamlessly with the new OS.”
But being an early adopter of the new OS was not without its own share of challenges. During the testing phase, it was seen that certain IT management software like an end point security solution and a backup solution that the company ran were not yet compatible with the new OS. Marulkar point out that this was not too surprising as the Win 8 OS was then only recently launched and the respective vendor companies had not yet updated their software to work with the new OS.
Marulkar talked with these vendor companies who supplied these management software to get their respective Win 8 compatible software versions released by March 2013.
In the meanwhile, beginning in December 2012, KPIT conducted a limited Win 8 OS rollout to a selected number of around 80 users, evenly split between the IT and business teams. During this period, the IT team tested the technical feasibility of having business apps run on Win 8, with business users running their respective software to see if they faced any other potential issues.
With all the boxes ticked, Marulkar moved with the mass rollout in March, with some 700-800 laptop users covered under this phase. The company now has almost 1000 assets running on Windows 8 OS, with any new system bought by the company, be it either laptop or desktop, featuring Microsoft’s latest OS.
Among the 700-800 systems that were upgraded to Windows 8, were 75 touch enabled devices that were given to the senior management folks in the company.
With the new system in place, Marulkar states that they have seen an increase in employee productivity through providing touch enabled features as well as allowing employees to work from anywhere.
He attributes this improvement to the fact that with the company’s employees already being used to their own touch enabled devices, they are more comfortable with operating the new OS. Marulkar even found that he didn’t need to train his employees that much given their ease with such technology.
“Win 8 has changed the way people use laptops,” adds Marulkar.
The new OS was an improvement over the Windows 7 with Marulkar pointing out benefits such as increased laptop battery life, improved security through features such as BitLocker Drive Encryption, and a more efficient file management process that allows for the pausing and resuming of file transfers.
KPIT is currently in the process of having 1600 VM’s, which run Win 7, to move on to Win 8 as well. Marulkar expects to complete the migration of the remaining 7000 user systems to the new OS within the next 18 months. Moreover, he plans to start developing and bringing out more apps for the Windows 8 environment as well, thereby further improving employee productivity.