Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft drives operational efficiency across its global digital stores

With K2’s process automation platform, Microsoft’s marketing managers and site merchandisers across the globe now work more efficiently to publish content and merchandise promotions to the company’s website and online retail store.

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With thousands of content updates and promotions to manage across global e-commerce sites, multinational technology provider Microsoft needed a more efficient way to manage content and promotion publishing across Microsoft.com and the Microsoft store sites.

After implementing K2, the buying organization at Microsoft has increased employee productivity, reduced publication errors, and gained better visibility into the end-to-end publication and promotion process. K2 now plays a key role in streamlining processes across Microsoft’s entire e-commerce division.

Reducing errors in pre-production publishing

Challenge
Manual publication management

As a multinational technology provider, it is critical for Microsoft’s eCommerce team to keep their global website updated with information and content for all product lines. The content publication process is very complex, involving many levels of approvals and collaboration between resources from several teams to keep hundreds of pages updated across more than 240 regions.

For many years, the publishing process was managed via Excel spreadsheets. Content, images, and other publishing information were tracked in different spreadsheets. In some cases, there were 200+ spreadsheets to track updates for a single page on the website. Content approvals were handled manually, often resulting in bottlenecks and delays in publishing timelines.

Furthermore, Microsoft’s legacy solution made it very difficult to easily track publishing tasks and provide visibility into publication statuses. “We needed to have a normalized publishing process where we could report, track, and automate publications across Microsoft.com,” says Jennifer Woolery, Program Manager, eCommerce.

Solution
An efficient, automated publishing process

Microsoft turned to K2 and K2’s Professional Services team to deliver an automated solution to handle the Microsoft.com publication process for the global team. With K2’s SmartForms and workflow engine, Microsoft has a streamlined publishing process that allows regional marketing managers to submit content via an online portal. Pre-production approval tasks are automatically routed to the right group based on region and content is automatically queued and scheduled for entry into the content management system (CMS).

Publishing errors have been decreased by as much as 30% in some areas by ensuring that the right content and asset information is captured as part of the initial request. Full auditing and tracking capabilities provide visibility into the process and ensure that strict publishing schedules are met.

“K2 offers us the ability to automate those business workflows and move them from person to person or team to team as appropriate,” says Woolery. “It also allows us to get reliable inputs and outputs from the system so that we are getting those consistently and correctly each time. You know what you're delivering is going to be right 99% of the time. It's all about the consistency.”

“K2 has become a mission critical tool. Our buying organization continues to ask for more work to be put into it because it’s such a critical piece of the puzzle in making money for Microsoft. This is a big piece of our work and it’s really helping them be successful.”

Jennifer Woolery, Program Manager, E-Commerce, Microsoft

A central workspace to handle promotions

Challenge
Time-consuming promotion management

More recently, Jennifer and the eCommerce team turned their sights toward improving their merchandise promotion process. Similar to the content approval process for Microsoft.com, publishing merchandise promotion information on Microsoft’s global online stores was a manual and time-consuming process.

Promotions for all of Microsoft’s product lines were tracked and managed via a series of Microsoft OneNote files, making it difficult to gain visibility into outstanding launch tasks. Errors often occurred due to the amount of double entry of data the Site Merchandisers were required to do for each promotion and campaign.

Due to the complex and global nature of the promotions management process, Microsoft was looking for a solution that would provide an easy-to-use solution while also being flexible and powerful enough to handle the complexities associated with the process.

Solution
Streamlined promotion management

Turning again toward K2 and K2’s Professional Services team, Jennifer and team were able to quickly deliver a unique, customized solution for handling the diverse number of promotions and campaigns managed by the Site Merchandisers across the globe.

Merchandisers are able to quickly submit promotional information, including product information, related campaigns, site and page placement and more, all via a centralized online workspace.

Since the solution has been in production, the number of errors related to publishing promotions has dropped significantly. In addition, the online promotions brief saves each merchandiser 25% of their time by eliminating time-consuming double data entry across multiple files.

Delivering solutions through professional services

Challenge
Building scalable solutions

Microsoft’s eCommerce team does not have a dedicated set of engineers. In order to meet the needs of the business, they needed to partner with a services team to help build the publishing and promotions management solutions. They were looking for quality resources they could trust to work closely with the internal Microsoft teams.

Solution
Quality resources from a trusted source

By utilizing K2’s Professional Services team, Microsoft has been able to scale their team and deliver new features and capabilities much more quickly.

The blended K2 and Microsoft team is providing a consistent track record of delivering quality solutions on time, resulting in happy users and higher user adoption. “Our adoption rate for the promotions tool was 100% out the gate,” says Woolery. “K2 as a whole is well-loved inside our company because they're delivering what the users want to see.”

Not only does K2’s team provide solution development support but they are also responsible for managing the K2 platform. The K2 team manages and maintains the K2 installation in Microsoft’s internal Azure environment, providing upgrade and management support to ensure that the system maintains a high level of stability and uptime.

“The K2 Professional Services team are great resources from a trusted source,” says Jennifer, adding “they work closely with the users and really think outside of the box and stretch themselves to find creative solutions to our unique challenges.”

Microsoft continues to work closely with the K2 Professional Services team and are ramping up for their next big project, Global Launch, which will release later in 2020 and focuses on streamlining the product launch process for new products worldwide. In addition, they are investigating several different pilot projects, including integration with UiPath and other 3rd party technologies.

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