After 30 years of development, Martin Aircraft Company is ready to launch the world’s first practical jetpack into the global market place. It replaced outdated business IT with Microsoft Office 365. Now its expanding workforce can communicate and collaborate efficiently as a virtual team to successfully sell the jetpack to life-saving first responders, military organizations, tourist operators, and individuals around the world.

  • Now that the Martin Jetpack is ready for commercial production, we’ll be using Office 365 to work productively as a virtual team and take advantage of global sales opportunities."
  • Now that the Martin Jetpack is ready for commercial production, we’ll be using Office 365 to work productively as a virtual team and take advantage of global sales opportunities."
  • Now that the Martin Jetpack is ready for commercial production, we’ll be using Office 365 to work productively as a virtual team and take advantage of global sales opportunities."

When Peter Coker joined Martin Aircraft Company in April 2013 as Chief Executive Officer, his goal was to take a small company with a unique product—the world’s first practical jetpack—and launch it into the global marketplace. “Glenn Martin initially worked on his dream in his garage in Christchurch on his own and now, 30 years later, Glenn and our team of aviation experts have made the jetpack a reality,” says Coker. “Yet, when I joined Martin Aircraft, it was still running on very basic IT systems.”

To commercialize the company, Coker needed to address the poor quality of its IT systems. “We can’t be successfully selling to government agencies and civilian customers around the world without reliable email, easy access to corporate data and sales materials, and real-time collaboration tools,” he says.

Antiquated Systems

From the outset, Coker was determined to find the same level of enterprise-quality business productivity tools for Martin Aircraft employees that he used during his previous tenure at a large US aviation company. “We are a small group of seven full-time employees and five contractors: visionary engineers, designers, and some of the best experts in aviation,” he says. “Yet we were trying to function with a rudimentary hosted email solution and a web mail service that didn’t allow us to use our email addresses. Out of the office, our email service wasn’t reliable, so we phoned around trying to find each other to get our questions answered.”

The company kept its business documents and intellectual property—technical drawings and engineering designs—on a server at the office. When they were out of the office, staffers had difficulty accessing information on the server because the search function didn’t work and documents weren’t properly organized. “I worried about security because we couldn’t allocate permissions to documents,” says Coker.

Coker plans to hire up to 40 people in the next 18 months, so it was imperative that he find the right business productivity tools to support his objectives for global expansion.

Cloud-Based Global Productivity

It was Martin Aircraft’s new IT partner, the I.T. team, that suggested a solution to Coker’s problem—Microsoft Office 365. “The Office 365 suite of cloud-based communication and collaboration tools is t flexible, intuitive, and cost-effective; everything we need for our rapidly growing company. Office 365 allows us to stay connected and responsive as we market the jetpack to customers around the world,” says Coker. “It’s also a great disaster recovery solution. When the earthquake hit Christchurch in 2011, it brought home the whole business continuity issue. With Office 365, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Martin Aircraft is migrating documents to the cloud so that sales representatives and engineers can easily access information regardless of their location. At the same time, the company is better organizing corporate data so that it is easily searchable, promoting individual productivity and better virtual teamwork. Engineers can use Lync Online to share screens during videoconferences to brainstorm design ideas, and SharePoint Online to collaborate simultaneously on design documents without being in the same room. Sales representatives can access promotional videos on their tablets or mobile phones and show them to prospective customers at a moment’s notice. “We could even take a tablet into the field and capture a video of a test flight and relay the video back to the office in real time—the possibilities are endless,” says Coker.

Staff uses Office 365 ProPlus, the version of Microsoft Office that comes with many Office 365 plans. Everyone can achieve the same high level of productivity working with the latest Microsoft Office programs. Coker doesn’t have to worry about updating Microsoft Office applications because everyone is automatically updated to the latest version. “Microsoft PowerPoint will be great for our sales reps; we do complex calculations in Excel; we’ll use Publisher for marketing materials; and we’ll replace some of our databases with Access,” says Coker.

Builds Partnerships

When expanding a business, it is essential to make connections and build relationships, and Coker plans to use the communication and collaboration tools in Office 365 to do just that. He will be adding his board members to the company’s Office 365 subscription so that he can stay in touch when traveling, and he plans to use the videoconferencing features of Lync Online to communicate with Martin Aircraft’s legal counsel.

“Providing great service means staying in touch with customers no matter where they are, and that’s where we’ll derive the most value out Office 365,” concludes Coker. “When I think of taking the Martin Jetpack into commercial production in the global marketplace, we have the enterprise-level, professional communication and collaboration tools that our teams can use to increase the value of our business relationships, every day.”