From the sea to the cloud: Building a global marine brokerage and consultancy firm with Office 365

From the sea to the cloud: Building a global marine brokerage and consultancy firm with Office 365

M3 Marine Group staff did not have the access to emails and documents needed to support the global expansion envisioned by founder Mike Meade. Then he subscribed to Microsoft Office 365. Today, brokers reliably access archived emails for market trending to build better deals, and consultants collaborate better in virtual teams to expedite reports-two essential steps toward building a global business that stays true to its service-oriented roots.

As one of the busiest ports in the world, it's not surprising that Captain Mike Meade chose Singapore as the headquarters for his company, M3 Marine Group. Meade worked as a ship's captain before trading in his sea legs for senior management positions in the corporate world. However, his experience dealing with major oil companies and offshore marine engineering service providers is just one reason for M3 Marine's success.

"Our brokers are veterans in the industry who use their experience to broker deals that build lasting customer relationships," says Meade. "On the consultancy side, we are well-known for our expertise in designing computer-controlled ship positioning systems and the relevant documentation, especially FMEAs [failure mode effects analysis]."

Defining a Vision for Growth

Today, Meade envisions M3 Marine as a global company. "I want to broaden our base, first by opening an office in Australia and then expanding to the Middle East," he says. "We will populate those offices over time, always with a focus on delivering best-in-class service and gaining repeat business."

To achieve this goal, Meade needed to reevaluate the technology his staff uses every day. "I looked for productivity tools that would amplify the core competencies of the brokerage and consultancy sides of the business," he says. "We need communication and collaboration tools that work on any device across any time zone so that we can function as productive, virtual teams. That means we need easy access to corporate data and customer information, no matter where we are in the world."

Choosing Microsoft Office 365

Meade knew that cloud-based IT services would be the most cost-effective computing platform for his company. "We tried Google, but we didn't like the interface and it didn't do what we wanted; we tried a ship broker's proprietary database and messaging service, but it didn't perform to contract," he recalls. "Then, in 2012, I went to a luncheon hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce Small Business Group. I met our IT provider, eVantage Technology, and I learned about Microsoft Office 365. Things at M3 Marine haven't been the same since."

Business Tools that Just Work

M3 Marine worked with eVantage Technology to migrate to Office 365 and the seamless transition for all 30 employees was the first indication that the new cloud-based business communication and collaboration tools lived up to Meade's expectations. Today, all M3 Marine employees are using the same up-to-date Microsoft Office programs as part of the cloud-based suite of services.

"Each of us can deploy Office 365 ProPlus on up to five computers and devices, saving me licensing costs," says Meade. "And with Office Web Apps, we will be able to work with Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel programs on the go, using any browser."

Meade begins his day by checking email on his PC at home. On his way to work, he stops for coffee and logs on to the corporate network using his laptop. Then, he'll use a PC at the office during a meeting. Later, he'll take his laptop to talk to a consultant about a report. "It's that seamless transfer from one location and one device to another and knowing that I'll always have access to up-to-date information that's made me productive, no matter where I go," he says.

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