How Google Apps is Empowering 19,000 Rentokil Employees

Rentokil Initial, a global enterprise with more than 76,000 employees, was an IT executive’s nightmare. The company had grown organically and through the acquisition of several brands around the globe, but it had never been able to deploy a centralized technology platform. Billion-dollar divisions were operating on homegrown email systems that had no ties to the parent company’s system. The company didn’t even have a global address book. Now, the company’s divisions, scattered around the globe, collaborate in the cloud.

When CIO Bryan Kinsella took the IT helm more than three years ago, the company was in the midst of attempting an ambitious ERP system deployment. "But the nature of the business was so diverse and difficult [that] they’d been trying that for two and a half years," he says. The project never came to fruition.

Kinsella had a global company with no central IT system and a clean slate — Rentokil knew it needed to invest in systems. The IT team was tasked with figuring out how to make that happen across disparate business units that include indoor landscaping company Ambius, pest control organizations, flower delivery companies and more.

"How could we make the company operate much more as a global company operating in a much more productive and standardized way? That meant actually tackling all of the areas of technology — from data centers and networks, desktop systems, mobile phones and applications," Kinsella says. General systems like mail could be standardized. Some business applications would need to be more unique.

When Kinsella’s team began, the company had 40 different email systems and approximately 160 different domains. "Back in 2009, we looked at whether we could move our entire estate to, say, Microsoft, but that would be a very long and expensive process for us," says Kinsella. "The whole ability to take a server-based solution across our estate was very restrictive." In addition to operating in a number of major countries, including France, Germany, UK, USA, Australia, the company also operates in several other nations. In places such as Barbados, Brunei and Norway, the company has a smaller footprint than it does in the larger countries. This causes restrictions to the number of people who can be placed in those countries to support systems, notes Kinsella. "We just didn’t see that would work for us." The company also decided against a hybrid Microsoft-open source system.

"We decided to look at a third option, which was providing this capability on a cloud-based solution," Kinsella says. In spring 2009, the company went to Google and negotiated a business application deal. Rentokil decided to have its Ambius division run a pilot program using Google Apps.

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