Tale of an Accidental Cloud Leader

With three major cloud platform implementations under our belt, we've heard more than once we're considered a cloud leader. It wasn't our goal, but with resources constrained and the call from business leaders to deliver several key transformations over the last few years, we turned to cloud computing for answers.

By Matt Vandenbush, director of IT strategy and architecture, Brady Corporation
Thu, September 09, 2010

Network World — With three major cloud platform implementations under our belt, we've heard more than once we're considered a cloud leader. It wasn't our goal, but with resources constrained and the call from business leaders to deliver several key transformations over the last few years, we turned to cloud computing for answers.

FAQ: Cloud computing, demystified

Brady Corporation (BRC) is a public company with 90 locations in 29 countries, 7,800 employees and $1.2 billion in annual sales. We manufacture solutions that identify and protect premises, products and people, and from what we've been told, we're on the leading edge of cloud adoption for a company our size.

Like IT organizations in many large enterprises, our team is tasked with evaluating and implementing systems and applications to fuel the company's growth and give employees the information they need, when they need it, so they can make the best decisions -- all while keeping operational costs as low as possible. Our internal requirements, existing IT environment and business processes may be unique to Brady, but I'm guessing our IT group's mission and motivations to leverage cloud-based technologies are probably similar to many other enterprises.

On-demand transformation

In the last two years, we have deployed three significant cloud computing solutions globally: salesforce.com, Workday.com and Google (GOOG) Apps for Enterprise.

These three platforms are at the core of our on-demand transformation strategy to reduce complexity, deliver new innovative capabilities to business users, and prepare for scalable growth at a predictable cost. We have implemented these three platforms simultaneously while maintaining "business as usual", which in our environment means seven SAP deployments, 15 Web site deployments, numerous projects and enhancements, and a flat budget over the last year.

Increasing sales and decreasing costs is a way of life in our IT group. We have created business value with on-demand  computing by transforming our operating model and enabling innovative ways to prepare for scale and growth.

Preparing for growth starts with effectively managing human resources. Prior to our Workday implementation, we had over 30 human resources systems, making it difficult to manage resources and talent globally. Simple questions such as "How many employees do we have in Asia?" were hard to answer accurately and required significant manual effort to collect and validate. We now have one global system of record providing visibility, consistency and control of our HR processes to manage more than 7,000 human resources across our 90 sites. Workday was deployed on schedule and under budget, giving us a global view of our talent, which is critical in this tough economy.

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