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CloudM partner with The Hut Group at DTX Manchester

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As the anchor event of the inaugural Manchester Tech Week, DTX Manchester was the largest gathering of enterprise IT professionals that the North has ever seen, and as a Manchester-born company with a global reach, CloudM was right at the heart of the action!

Our team had a stand at the conference, helping attendees understand our platform and how it can help every aspect of their business. We were also very privileged to have with us as guest speaker Jo Drake, CIO of Manchester-based giant The Hut Group (THG).

Jo took to the stage with CloudM MD Gary Bennion to discuss cloud transformation through automation, explaining how it has helped both of them and what the future holds.

What is DTX?

Evolving from what was once IP EXPO, Digital Transformation EXPO (DTX) recognize the rapidly increasing need for businesses to digitally transform. They showcase the latest ‘must have’ technology and insight from the world’s leading brands and experts, connecting businesses with the information and technology that they need right now.

Driven by changing customer expectations and a raft of new technologies, organizations are embarking on a journey of essential change to every aspect of their business, and DTX aim to make that change as simple as possible.

The DTX 2022 Expo had expert analysis, opinion and inspiration from the best minds in the business. From strategic insight to technical knowhow, there was something for everyone.

CloudM had a stand, where our team was happy to meet and greet people attending the exhibition, explaining what we do as a company, and how we can help organizations in their cloud journey.

It’s always nice to share our platform with new, potential customers, showcasing how they can save both time and money by using our platform. We also provided a full paperless experience for everyone, donating the money saved to local charities.

Sharing THG’s experience

Gary and Jo held a talk titled Cloud transformation through automation: In conversation with THG and CloudM.

The aim was to highlight some of our automation success stories, giving real-life examples of how we have worked with The Hut Group and their Microsoft 365 platform to make changes to their global organization.

Jo was keen to discuss why THG have a mantra of “automate everything”, explaining why automation can prepare you for disruption and what the damage can be from not automating your business.

Gary and Jo also shared a few challenges THG solved with the help of CloudM, showcasing how CloudM can help build a platform people can automate themselves, and how our Manchester-based company is leading the way in world Cloud automation and innovation.

The power of automation

After introductions, Jo talked about THG and how they are now a global tech business after taking their beauty and nutrition brands to the world. They now work with other retailers to do the same thing, all based on their own proprietary tech platform that they have built.

At THG, Jo’s mantra is to “automate everything”. The reason being is that automation is all about efficiency, scale and pace.

Initially, automation was about removing “Operation Toil” - the nonsense stuff we do every day. These are the little tasks; tickets coming in, email coming in, copying and pasting this from there to there, giving somebody access to this… those types of things take up many man hours and it’s all unnecessary waste.

By automating all these tasks and removing operational toil, we free up our time, especially those of the engineers, who can then do more interesting things, adding value across the business. What THG can do then is help other companies and brands automate their own operations, and then they become known as the team others go to to get things done.

Guiding principles

The Hut Group have a set of guiding principles, and automation aligns with four of those principles.

Use tech to scale, not people.
You can’t simply throw people at problems because that’s not going to scale. As a general rule, if you’re replacing a person with tech, then you’re freeing up that person to do more value-add activities.

Drive by data, not relationships.
How to do something shouldn’t be in one person’s head. If you ask somebody “how do you do this?” and they say, “Go speak to Geoff.”, then that's a problem.

Self-service.
The end goal is for people to not even come to us with problems, but rather have a way for them to sort it out themselves or just be able to get what it is that they need.

Make raising tickets obsolete.
If a customer comes and asks “Can I have this?”, we don’t want to send them away to raise a ticket. We don’t want humans spending time raising tickets when the whole process could be automated.

Navigating the pandemic

When the pandemic came along, THG were better placed than most to deal with it. The company wanted to be prepared in case of any disruption, notably an acquisition. By already taking those first steps towards automation in the digital workplace, THG was in a good position to handle the pandemic.

The company had already been working on zero-touch provision, figuring out how to give a thousand new employees a laptop on the same day. During lockdown, they were onboarding 150 new starters every Monday, but with the steps to automation already underway, THG were miles ahead than most other companies.

Of course, now with the work-from-home lifestyle taking hold, automation really is essential, especially when working within the Cloud. Updating or sending out a patch is literally at the click of a button for thousands of laptops across the world.

The Hut Group and CloudM

THG are a tech business within a tech business, so they like to build their own capabilities. When they first contacted CloudM many years ago, it was to migrate newly acquired businesses over to their tenant.

Of course, being a tech company, they wanted to do it themselves, so a partnership evolved where CloudM did the first migration while THG watched, the second migration was carried out by THG while CloudM looked over their shoulder, and after that, THG did their own migrations using CloudM’s innovative platform.

As The Hut Group grew, they needed a solution for multiple migrations running parallel to one another, all completed within a six week timeframe. CloudM helped the company build its own migration process in-house and now they constantly run migrations from all different sources.

Smart teams

With over ten thousand people in the company, covering different businesses, different teams within those businesses, and different brands within those teams, THG have their hands full when it comes to keeping tabs on everyone.

This is where CloudM’s smart teams come into play. By using these powerful dynamic user groups, automation can be taken to the next level, which is exactly what THG needed.

Automating onboarding and offboarding when you have so many employees literally saves thousands of work hours per month, but one of the most helpful aspects of the CloudM platform that they combined with smart teams was the Email Signature Management tool.

When people just make their own email signature, there’s no standard format and with a multitude of brands under one company, it was difficult to keep on top of. With automation, the smart teams THG set up will look at a new joiner, what business unit they are in, what department they are in, and what their role is. Then it will instantly build an approved email signature that's been produced by their creative team.

It’s such a small thing, but automation like this literally saves millions over the course of a year in work hours.

THG want to take this to a new level. This isn’t just about automating, it's about making the end user experience significantly better. The aim is to get to a world where we all run on teams, making everything easier for employees, but also streamlining the customer experience.

Automating the automation

Now that the first layer of automation with CloudM is complete for THG, they are building something that Jo calls the “sausage machine”; something that puts all the ingredients in one end, is processed in the machine and exits perfectly combined out of the other side.

In this case it would be the roles, the system access, the resource groups and more, all put in at the top, prompting the machine to build the automation. The aim is to not even configure the automation anymore, but rather simply put in the ingredients and the sausage machine will automate it for you!

This is a sign that automation is not only here to stay, but is inevitably evolving far into the future.

DTX Europe

For those of you who missed us at DTX Manchester, we’ll also be exhibiting at DTX Europe in London in October 2022. If you’re attending we look forward to seeing you there!

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