December 01, 2010, 9:30 PM — If you're staying at a Hilton Hotel for business or pleasure, you probably won't see evidence in the lobby that the worldwide hotel chain is upgrading to Office and SharePoint 2010 for its employees and business partners at 3,600 hotels.
But behind the scenes, Hilton Worldwide CIO Robert Webb is counting on an upgrade to Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Office Communications Server (rebranded as Lync), as well as a migration to Windows 7, to improve productivity and communication among Hilton employees, from C-level executives to front desk workers.
The Office 2010 upgrade is part of Hilton's Innovation Collaborative, where the company tested a group of technology vendors to deliver technologies across all Hilton hotels around the world. Those that passed muster include IBM, Accenture, AT&T and Microsoft.
While IBM is Hilton's main data center and desktop support service vendor, Hilton is looking to Microsoft for the productivity and collaboration tools piece of the puzzle, and has expanded its enterprise agreement to provide 2010 versions of Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Office Communications Server and Windows 7 to all Hilton employees and business partners.
Currently, Hilton is at the end of its pilot testing program for Exchange and Office 2010 products and will roll them out in increments in January 2011, starting with employees who are not on Exchange and Outlook. SharePoint is still in the planning phase as Hilton determines who exactly needs SharePoint and how IT will govern the content, says Webb.
In an interview with CIO.com, Hilton CIO Webb discussed the ways in which he hopes Office, Exchange and SharePoint 2010 will make Hilton a "workplace of the future."
Getting Everyone on the Same Page
One major goal of Hilton's Office and SharePoint 2010 upgrade: Get all employees onto one platform. Hilton has 130,000 employees in 82 countries.
The advantage for Hilton, as with most companies, is that its workforce is familiar and comfortable with Exchange and Office documents, says Webb. Most of Hilton's workers are coming from an Office 2007/Exchange 2007 environment, or from some Novell Groupwise e-mail systems outside the U.S.
[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and reviews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]
"This is not a simple e-mail upgrade," he says, who points out that there will be more of an emphasis on the "document sharing and collaboration features of SharePoint merged with Exchange 2010 for a unified e-mail and collaboration platform."
An Eye on the Cloud