As connected as we are as individuals and corporations, people still tend to work in silos. For years, companies sought to get ahead of the competition by optimizing each silo for cost and efficiency – and to some extent it worked. But that concept is quickly becoming outdated as organizations come to recognize the value of human connection and networking.
In his blog post on DigitalTonto, Greg Satell explains how collaboration is the new competitive advantage: “… today, success is not driven by the resources you control, but those you can access. Increasingly, rather than owning resources and capabilities outright, we use platforms to access ecosystems of technology, talent and information. The path to success no longer lies in clawing your way to the top of the heap, but in nudging your way to the center of the network.”
This new social economy transforms how organizations achieve competitive advantage. While reducing costs and increasing efficiencies are still beneficial to the health of the organization, they don’t necessarily give organizations the edge they need to win. Instead, competitive advantage lies in an organization’s ability to harness relationships within and outside the organization. “Every enterprise today needs to think seriously about how to network their organization,” Satell writes.
That’s exactly what Teck Resources Limited did when the global mining company sought to identify and institutionalize best practices that had been siloed away. “Our mines are in very remote areas, and we have people working in multiple countries, time zones, and languages,” said Peter Hass, Manager of Collaboration Services at Tech Resources. “We want to learn from each other, to identify what works well at one mine and apply that to others.”
While Teck had always encouraged communication between locations, doing so wasn’t easy or efficient. With 13 mines and a global workforce of 11,000 strong, each business unit had its own business and IT systems, and multiple conferencing technologies in place. The result was a fragmented user meeting experience. Employees had to learn different conferencing technologies and go through specially trained staff—an internal video concierge service—just to use a meeting room.
In 2015, in an effort to drive efficiencies up and costs down, Teck made the decision to standardize on Microsoft Skype for Business. This would improve the overall meeting experience for users – and make it easier to collaborate and share best practices. Teck also deployed Polycom RealConnect for Skype for Business to unify video collaboration across Skype for Business and non-Skype for Business environments. This solution helps to foster greater use of video collaboration by preserving existing user workflows through Outlook calendaring, click-to-join meeting experience and native content sharing.
Teck immediately saw a return from its efforts. Employees began utilizing the rooms and collaborating right away. “They are constantly full and fought over because they’re so much simpler to use. The simplicity of sharing content is brilliant; anything whatsoever can be shared with everyone on the line. Training is minimal,” Hass said.
In an ideal world, an organization’s efforts to network its people will also reduce costs and improve efficiencies. This was particularly important for Teck. In the face of declining copper, coal and zinc prices, the mining company scrutinizes every expense, including travel. “We have cut our travel budget in half by using Lync Server 2013 and Skype for Business,” Hass said.
And, despite increasing its server infrastructure to provide high availability for what has become a mission-critical system, Teck has also decreased its communications management costs by standardizing on a unified user experience.
From sharing best practices between distant locations to remotely running small mines, Teck demonstrates the value Satell speaks of when he writes, “In the past, we could dominate by accumulating resources and driving efficiency, but now agility and interoperability rule the day. We need to shift our focus from assets and capabilities to empathy, design and networked organizations.”