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Microsoft Office Customer Solution Case Study

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Microsoft Office

Customer Solution Case Study

Healthcare IT Provider Uses Collaboration Tools to Improve Communication, Save Money


Country or Region: United States

Industry: Professional Services
Customer Profile

Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Cerner Corporation is an IT provider that develops software solutions and applications for hospitals and medical facilities that want to digitize their data and images.

Business Situation

Because the company’s business was expanding, it needed to give its remote employees a cost-effective way to hold more interactive meetings and conferences.


Cerner implemented Microsoft unified communication tools, including Microsoft® Office Live Meeting, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.


  • Better collaboration

  • Reduced travel costs

  • Reduced training costs

  • Better security, reliability

  • Simplified management

“[Live Communications Server and Communicator 2005] give us more real-time knowledge of where people are and how to contact them. That’s definitely allowed us to be more productive.”

Jared Brown, End-User Computing Architect, Cerner Corporation

Cerner Corporation develops IT solutions for healthcare facilities. The company’s solutions help hospitals integrate technology and digitize records. To connect with its dispersed associate base and train its growing number of clients, Cerner relies on collaborative technology for training sessions, customer demos, and internal meetings. The company recently deployed Microsoft® Office Live Communications Server 2005 and installed Microsoft Office Communicator 2005. Cerner, which had already been using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, also subscribed to Microsoft Office Live Meeting, a hosted multimedia Web-conferencing solution. Using the familiar interface of these Office family tools, Cerner associates have become better connected and more productive. In addition, the company has saved thousands of dollars in travel costs.


Cerner, based in Kansas City, Missouri, develops software solutions and applications that are used to digitize data and images for the healthcare industry. Its solutions for hospitals, health networks, clinics, and physician practices are designed to integrate all aspects of healthcare, including radiology, pharmacy, laboratory, and patient registration. Cerner clients form a broad base, from 100-bed community hospitals to multifacility, multistate medical centers. Cerner helps these organizations transition from paper records to automated digital solutions.
Currently, Cerner employs more than 7,000 people in 25 offices worldwide. Because business has been growing rapidly over the past several years, the company’s sales, marketing, and technology associates have seen an increased need to collaborate on customer activities such as software demos and internal meetings. As the need for more meetings and conferences has grown, the

“We’re in a dynamic business environment where every minute counts. The ability to conduct business around the world in real time is important to us.”

Jared Brown, End-User Computing Architect, Cerner Corporation

company has sought to find a cost-effective method of bringing together its widely dispersed associate base without having to increase travel costs to remote locations. “We wanted the company to become more virtual,” says Jared Brown, End-User Computing Architect at Cerner. “We needed to better connect with our employees and customers using real-time technology.”
Cerner had been relying on an internal instant messaging service and the WebEx Web conferencing solution to bring its associates together and conduct regular training events. However, the company was not satisfied with the integration of WebEx with its instant messaging service, and it needed a more reliable Web conferencing solution to increase internal collaboration. “We really wanted our people spending more time in the field helping customers and less time in the office,” says Brown. Cerner also wanted a solution that would integrate better with the company’s existing applications.

In March 2005, Cerner decided to switch from WebEx to Microsoft® Office Live Meeting, a hosted online collaboration Web conferencing service that helps companies meet, present, train, and collaborate in real time. In October 2005, the company deployed Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, followed one month later by Microsoft Office Communicator 2005. Communicator 2005 is an enterprise messenger client that integrates with productivity and other communications applications.

Cerner also uses Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, the communication and collaboration server in Microsoft Windows Server System™ integrated server software. Live Communications Server and Communicator deeply integrate with the Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003 messaging and collaboration client, which runs on Exchange Server. This unified communications combination enables users to see rich-presence indicators automatically populated with real-time schedule information and detailed out-of-office messages across the Cerner network, providing associates with greater security, availability, and reliability.
Together, these technologies connect associates in real time using instant messaging, Web conferencing, audio and video collaboration, and integrated presence. These capabilities can be accessed from within Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, the Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet software, and Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003.
Initially, Cerner deployed Live Meeting to 10 percent of its associates, who quickly learned how to use the solution. These associates, part of the company’s internal Cerner Virtual University training program, often rely on Web conferencing for collaborative training sessions.
“They are a group of associates that really need to use Web conferencing frequently,” says Brown. “We were able to quickly set up their accounts, provide them with access, and send them training materials. We gave them a few weeks to experiment with it and transition from WebEx. It was a very smooth deployment, partly because it integrates well with the Microsoft Office products.”

Deploying Microsoft communications software has given Cerner the ability to share information more quickly with customers and associates and to hold last-minute conferences and meetings about Cerner software and IT solutions. Being able to communicate faster and more effectively has allowed the company to handle its increased business without adding costs.

Improved Collaboration

Prior to deploying Live Meeting, internal conferences were more difficult to schedule due to travel and workload demands placed on Cerner associates who needed to train clients. “We’re in a dynamic business environment where every minute counts. The ability to conduct business around the world in real time is important to us,” says Brown. “Live Meeting, Live Communications Server, and Office Communicator make us all more virtual. They don’t require us to be tied down to devices or locations, or offices or cubicles. They provide us with more real-time virtual capability to conduct business around the world.”

Cerner associates are able to use the presence features of Communicator to view co-workers’ schedules to see when they are free. “The presence functionality is great, because it tells us if someone is online and available to communicate,” says Brown. “We like being able to upgrade a spontaneous instant messaging session into a full-fledged meeting. If someone looked at my status right now, for example, Office Communicator would show that I’m in a meeting, and I’ll be available at a certain time. Being able to know when someone’s going to be available, and having that integrated with our other Office System applications, is amazing. It has definitely made us all feel more connected as a company.”
Because employees and customers alike can have instant access to information with no delays in communication, processes are more efficient overall. “The combination of Live Communications Server and Live Meeting works so well with Microsoft Office applications like Outlook in terms of scheduling meetings and sharing data,” says Brown. “We no longer have to go to another Web page just to set up a meeting, for example. Also, most of our users are somewhat familiar with the interfaces because they are designed and respond in a similar way.”
Live Meeting has already helped Cerner increase the number of meetings with clients, and communicate better as a group. “Live Meeting has become a vital component to our internal and external collaboration efforts,” says Brown.
Less Training and Travel Time

Using this integrated suite of communications products has already led to shorter project times overall. “Because these are familiar interfaces for our associates, we haven’t had to do as much training,” says Brown. “The reduction in the amount of training for our employees has definitely reduced costs for the company.”

These real-time solutions let Cerner share ideas and information faster, enhancing productivity in the process. “If we wanted to have a short-notice meeting in the past, a lot of time and effort was spent trying to hunt people down,” says Brown. “This shortens that time and allows us to be more productive. And we save on travel and expenses, too.”
In addition, Cerner now has fewer support vendors it has to negotiate with, because it can rely on Microsoft directly for assistance with all three solutions. “There is definitely an inherent cost savings in that,” says Brown.
More Secure, More Reliable Messaging

Cerner administrators also enjoy the public instant messaging connectivity features of Live Communications Server. “It’s so easy to enhance the security of instant messaging by running it through Live Communications Server,” says Brown. “Managing the traffic is very smooth with this tool. This really helps with user support because there are fewer variables involved.”

In addition, Live Communications Server contains built-in redundancies that make it easy for administrators and users to operate. “If for some reason the server goes down, it automatically reconnects to another server,” says Brown. “That way, users don’t have to manually log back in. This saves time and money for us as well.”
More Failover Protection

Cerner is also experiencing the advantages of Live Communications Server 2005, which provides more benefits than the previous version. “Live Communications Server 2005 has new features that allow even more failover protection built into the system,” says Brown. “In the 2003 environment, we actually had two servers that had users on them, with half of our users on each server. If one of the servers went down, we had problems. Live Communications Server 2005 allows all users to be on either server, and everyone can still function even if one server has problems.”

Simplified Management

For Cerner, choosing Microsoft unified communications software has advantages beyond simple technical support. “With Microsoft, we're leveraging an existing relationship, along with application compatibility. That by itself simplifies the management of the real-time collaboration tools considerably,” explains Brown.

Now that Cerner has deployed Live Meeting, Communicator 2005, and Live Communications Server 2005 to all of its employees, it can focus on its future. “These tools give us more real-time knowledge of where people are and how to contact them. That’s definitely allowed us to be more productive,” says Brown. “Going forward, we expect to take our business to the next level with the help of these tools.”

For More Information

For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about Cerner Corporation products and services, call (866) 221-8877 or visit the Web site at:

© 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Microsoft, Excel, the Office logo, Outlook, SharePoint, and Windows Server System are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
Document published April 2006

Software and Services

  • Microsoft Office System

  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2005

  • Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005

  • Microsoft Office Live Meeting

  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2003


  • IBM eServer BladeCenter server computers

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is the business world’s chosen environment for information work, providing the programs, servers, and services that help you succeed by transforming information into impact.

For more information about Microsoft Office, go to:

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