Virgin Trains

Powering a higher degree of customer service on the go and in the cloud

PROBLEM

As a company truly on the move in every sense, Virgin Trains was constrained by the anchors of on-premise legacy infrastructure. For the Design team, for instance, cutting up very large files in order to email them around cut into productivity and was a drain on resources. And over time, servers were simply running out of room.


SOLUTION

Virgin Trains embarked on an initiative called Smarter Working. It began with shifting all content to a centralized repository on Box — one that would enable a dispersed workforce to collaborate more easily. And with Box Zones, Virgin Trains keeps its data physically stored in the U.K., which is critical for GDPR compliance.

 

OUTCOME

Box has created a true step-change for both workers and customers of Virgin Trains. A large file that used to take a half hour to send is now an instant share with a Box link. Teams across Virgin Trains are more productive, work is more intuitive, and the customer satisfaction index continues to climb about a point every quarter.

Like every Virgin company, Virgin Trains is obsessed with customer service. The U.K.-based company sponsors 13 million customer journeys a year from Glasgow to London, and the experience of each individual journey matters. Ultimately, one of the top KPIs for the company is to drive up its customer satisfaction index (CSI), and so far, that index has gone up about a point a quarter.

Technology is nearly as much of an obsession for Virgin Trains as customer service, and the two are deeply intertwined. Over the last few years, Sullivan and his team have transitioned Virgin Trains from legacy technology to Cloud Content Management. 

“Box has enabled Virgin Trains to get out of the data center and transition the way it manages its documents and shares them with other people, and it integrated with all the services they’ve put in,” says Carl Nicholson, Technical Team Manager at Spherica, an IT consultant Virgin Trains partners with to implement such initiatives. “It’s pretty much the pivotal platform that Virgin uses today to allow them to be cloud first.”

 

“Digital transformation is absolutely at the heart of driving customer satisfaction.”

John Sullivan, CIO, Virgin Trains

From stodgy on-prem to smarter working

“In days of old, with on-premises infrastructure, we had a backup system that ran on laptops and desktops,” describes Vic Pitsillidis, Technical Delivery Manager. “It would literally take a backup copy of the machine and write it to a big storage device that we’d have to look after on premises — massively expensive, massively complex, massive opportunity for things to go wrong at any minute.” 

In fact, most IT services at Virgin Trains were still on-premises, including email and a traditional shared drive. For organizations like the Design team, this made collaboration more difficult than it needed to be. To collaborate on large design files, team members had to spend time cutting those files up into manageable pieces so they could be emailed around. 

Technical Delivery Manager Vic Pitsillidis says, “We were looking to move away from traditional data center environments and adopt a cloud-first strategy.” The team began a journey they call Smarter Working. One of the main initiatives was to move to a cloud-based solution for a lot of services, including Outlook, Office 365, and Box.

With the move to Box, even the largest files can now be uploaded straight to the cloud and then sent as links. Sending a file is now instantaneous, as opposed to the 20-30 minutes it used to take, and comes with less risk. Francesa Bennett, Senior Brand Designer, says, “That time is really precious to us, and if we get it back and it’s streamlined, it just makes our lives a lot easier.”

 

“We wanted to adopt a philosophy of anywhere, any time, any device. We saw Box as a tool that would allow our workforce to work more collaboratively.”

Vic Pitsillidis, Technical Delivery Manager, Virgin Trains

A solution for multiple content challenges

Cloud Content Management is not just about collaboration. Over time, on-premises servers were bogged down with content and running out of room. Sullivan says, “That’s why we turned to Box. Box gave us the scalability go to where we needed to when we needed more space and didn’t have it.” 

“We want to provide a consumer level of IT in enterprise,” says Nicholson, “which is the holy grail of what everyone’s looking for. One of the things that Box enables is that, if someone forgets their laptop, you can give them a new one, and they can just pick up where they left off.” 

Box also encrypts all content so it’s secure at an enterprise level. And with Box Zones, Virgin Trains can ensure the company meets new GDPR requirements, which enforce keeping all data within U.K. bounds. 

 

“We absolutely believe in chemistry when we’re working with a partner. Box is now a key partner for us, and will be for many, many years.”

John Sullivan, CIO of Virgin Trains

Train

 

Speeding into the future of Cloud Content Management

At the end of the day, says Sullivan, “The thing that’s going to give the most benefits to our customers is the productivity we can get from applications like Box.” Today, in meetings held both in person and virtually, participants can work from one document, seeing changes live in real time. Employees who lose or forget laptops don’t miss a beat of productivity in their day, even when traveling across the U.K. And Virgin Trains hums along comfortably in full compliance with GDPR and other essential regulations.

The future of Smarter Working at Virgin Trains holds tangible potential in terms of using Box Skills to provide intelligence on CCTV footage, with the ability to quickly interrogate hours of footage in order to find critical information. Using Box Governance, the company plans to put even more structure around documentation and permissions. 

“If your end goal is merely to move from the data center to the cloud,” says Nicholson, “you should probably raise your goals a little bit. Think of the power of the cloud and of the Box platform and actually plan out the migration, engage partners, and use Box Consulting Services. There’s more to Box than just cloud storage.”

 

“If I came in tomorrow and Box had disappeared, it would be like going into the dark ages.”

Vic Pitsillidis, Technical Delivery Manager, Virgin Trains