Fortune Global 250 power and automation technologies group ABB is currently rolling out a multi-year, global collaboration program. Designed to improve the company’s competitive advantage, customer satisfaction, and improve work efficiency, this initiative is intended to encourage and improve employee interaction and information sharing among the company’s 124,000 employees. To bring everyone on board, ABB is using harmon.ie for SharePoint to integrate people’s social and collaboration spaces into the email client, where people are accustomed to spending their workday.
Fortune Global 250 power and automation technologies group ABB reported $31.6 billion in 2010 revenue. Its employees working in approximately 100 countries are supported by a large, multi-vendor IT infrastructure that includes Microsoft, IBM Lotus, SAP, EMC, and Oracle.
As is true with many organizations, ABB employees have to deal with an increasing array of applications, collaboration tools, and interfaces. These distractions introduce inefficiencies brought on by the need to toggle between many windows and skip between disparate business contexts in order to complete everyday business tasks.
“Today, users need to access several disparate platforms in order to get their work done. These context switches waste time and interrupt their focus, impacting every aspect of our business, from sales and marketing to engineering and R&D.” – Thomas David Jones, ABB Project Manager, Group IS Projects.
Global Collaboration Initiative
Collaboration is a top business priority at ABB, which is currently rolling out a multi-year, global collaboration program, “ABB Collaboration Program.” The program is designed to boost productivity by enabling or supporting key initiatives; improve ABB’s competitive advantage, with faster action and reaction to the market; improve customer satisfaction, by bringing all employees, teams, and partners on board; and improve work efficiency by encouraging and improving employee interaction and information sharing within the company.
“Collaboration is not just what’s overwhelmingly right for ABB – it’s what is overwhelmingly right for our customers.” – Thomas David Jones
In designing the collaboration program, ABB followed several key principles:
- Everyone is a stakeholder, so all ABB businesses must be represented in its global collaboration and social initiative. No one is excluded.
- Design the program around typical end users, focusing on the ways teams currently work and interact. People primarily interact via email, instant messaging, and MS Office. Therefore, making use of people’s everyday clients is a key success factor when it comes to getting everyone’s ‘buy in’ and improving the way people work.
- New software and services need to integrate into the existing landscape, without any major impact on existing services. According to Jones, “ABB doesn’t want to shock users with a ‘rip and replace’ strategy that replaces their familiar clients or IT environments with something new and unknown. Rather, we want people to experience a natural evolution of their familiar tools, with useful new features in an updated interface.”
Integrating new software with existing assets also helps to minimize costs. There’s no need to retrain people or lose time while people get accustomed to new IT environments. People are comfortable in their familiar work environments, so they won’t resist new collaboration and social features. In addition, extending existing applications saves the money already invested in them. There’s no new licensing, hardware, or consulting costs associated with migrating to a single vendor strategy, and expertise to support IT systems already exists in house.
- Wherever possible, select strategic partners’ standard offerings — off-the-shelf commercial hardware or software that delivers required features and functions — with no or limited development. Select solutions that are transparent and flexible on the front-end and that allow governance on the backend, and reduce the number of components rolled out to lower complexity and cost.
Program Scope and User Experience
The ABB Collaboration Program consists of four tightly integrated areas: “You@ABB,” which is a personal productivity portal; Team Spaces, which focus on teams and facilitating team work; basic content management, which is the underlying layer responsible for hosting the content, and unified communications, which focuses on the convergence and integration of different communication channels.
harmon.ie for SharePoint
ABB implemented SharePoint 2010 for document collaboration, Team Spaces, and a global directory, and they were missing integration between SharePoint and their established email client, IBM Lotus Notes. ABB is bridging that gap with harmon.ie for SharePoint.
“harmon.ie closes one of the biggest IT gaps we’ve ever had at ABB. It’s a great app that transforms the email client into a social and collaboration workspace.” – Thomas David Jones
Using harmon.ie people:
- Easily collaborate and share information. Currently, most people store documents on their local hard drives and share them as e-mail attachments, resulting in wasted time trying to find the latest version of a document and merging feedback from various people. harmon.ie enables people to share a single, centralized copy of the document on SharePoint, eliminating the many intermediary steps associated with sending email attachments back and forth. People can also store emails alongside documents, improving overall project transparency and minimizing the risk that important emails could get lost in a personal Inbox
- Connect with colleagues using Sametime to ask a question or discuss a comment in a document that is being edited by multiple parties. Presence awareness lets them know when a document collaborator is available online for consultation.
- Readily adopt SharePoint’s social features to do business, because they’re convenient to use within You@ABB. People can easily learn more about colleagues they’re working with and search for experts within ABB who can contribute to their project; rate documents; and use metadata and tags to locate important documents quickly.
- Easily manage their schedules. Employees typically work on multiple projects and teams. harmon.ie brings their multiple team/project appointments into their personal calendars, so people can be sure they won’t miss any opportunities.
Deployment and Results
Global IS deployed harmon.ie as a client-side solutions package that IS teams worldwide are actively deploying to Lotus Notes 8.5 users. Lotus Notes 7.0 users can also download and install harmon.ie as a stand-alone sidebar that docks to the Notes window.
While not yet fully deployed, the ABB Collaboration Program has already improved team communication and cooperation. In the first year after rollout of Team Spaces, 2,400 team sites were set up for project, departmental and regional work, and the collaboration tools were being used by more than half of SharePoint-authorized users – nearly a quarter of the total workforce. Participation jumped significantly when the harmon.ie deployment began midway through the year, with a doubling of team sites and a 35% rise in unique weekly users in the ensuing four months.
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