How the Surface Hub transforms communication at Carhartt

Focus on: Optimize communication, Empower sales

More than 128 years ago, Hamilton Carhartt started a clothing line tough enough to keep pace with the smoke and steel of the late 1800’s. Railroad workers, ranch hands, and soldiers quickly adopted Hamilton’s line of rugged coveralls, denim, and uniforms. With two sewing machines and five employees, Hamilton sought to bring, “Honest value for an honest dollar,” to hardworking individuals around the world.

As Carhartt’s product lines continue to evolve, so have its customers. Today, Carhartt products can be found in the closets, trunks, and sheds of any man, woman, or child willing to put in the work. The Carhartt brand employs more than 2,200 American artisans, more than 900 UFCW union workers, and has evolved beyond just blue collar garments to feature daily wear, children’s, and women’s lines. And just like their customers, Carhartt CIO John Hill and his team needed the right tools to get the job done.

With the help of Carhartt’s Director of Technology Chris Walker, the team used the expansion of its main Detroit-area campus as a catalyst to streamline its telecommunication expenses, forge new productivity solutions, and refine its analytics model for a customer engagement engine built on the Surface Hub and Power BI.
Optimized communication with the Surface Hub and Power BIWhat initially began as a conference room enhancement quickly transformed into an opportunity for revolution. With the Surface Hub, Hill and his team replaced their bulky and expensive telecommunication infrastructure with a modern solution that further united their productivity and analytic resources.

As more and more teams embrace the Surface Hub adoption, the more opportunities Hill and Walker discover within their new solution. With the Surface Hub, Carhartt’s leadership team has replaced its archaic telecom solution with an efficient, interactive communication experience.

Walker explains, “It makes it much easier to utilize our tools. From simply creating a meeting around the Surface Hub, including the Skype call-in information, and having all the information, any documents associated with the event are available for when you walk in the room.”

The Hub slots into Carhartt’s existing Office 365 service to sling presentations, images, and documents directly from its own SharePoint directory or OneDrive account. It also hones many common meeting tasks like dialing in or recording (and sorting) calls, and provides easy call-in for off-site employees with Skype for Business. Remote opportunities not only cut down on travel costs, but allow for improvised cross-country collaboration—Hill and his team can quickly jump in and out of conversations at no extra cost.

By pairing the Surface Hub with the Power BI solution, Carhartt can manufacture and display centralized BI dashboards for team meetings throughout the organization. This, plus Power BI’s remote connectivity means Carhartt employees onsite and abroad can access the dashboards from their mobile devices.

Rather than hoping each attendee has the right documents, by syncing with the Surface Hub, everyone from the analysts to the VP of Marketing share the same real-time visualizations with up-to-date data. Hill explains, “When Power BI works well on mobile, it will allow us to cut down on versions of reports circulated via email for people away from the office.”

This provides easy access to key data for making the best decisions with the most up-to-date information, while the BI team can focus on creating reusable visualizations rather than perfecting a single, all-encompassing solution. Added accessibility, convenience, and productivity allows for stronger data-driven decision making.
Sales empowerment with heavy duty mobilityBut the mobility and integration of the Surface Hub doesn’t stop with the new building; the Carhartt sales team found a modern opportunity for mobile engagement with the Surface Book.

“Usually the sales team is last to embrace a change in technology, but now they’re our champions,” Hill states. By taking Surface into the field, Carhartt’s sales professionals can communicate directly with the corporate office as needed, while having the entirety of Carhartt’s product knowledge stored in their hands. This will reduce the need to carry so many samples and other product documentation, and it creates an entire digital product catalog that customers can use to demo Carhartt’s latest lines.

“We are also improving the productivity of our sales reps,” Hill adds. “Instead of travelling in for all-day meetings, they can dial in for that fifteen or thirty minutes and keep people cross-functional with supporting documents. They’re able to really focus on discussions around the specific challenges that may be happening in a particular region.”

Whether it’s working alongside a supplier or maintaining relationships with a national retailer, with Surface and Power BI, Carhartt can make smarter decisions and stronger partnerships. “I’m a big believer in having a few good, solid relationships with suppliers…if that partner has a good product and a good value proposition, then we’ll figure out how to make it work.” Hill explains, “I’d rather make big bets with key providers, and that is what we have done with Microsoft.”

With a track record of hard work and fortitude, Carhartt embodies those values to equip and protect its customers with some of the toughest textiles on the market. By driving efficiency with Surface and Power BI, the brand brings that commitment to not only its relationships, but to the way it creates and refines its products.


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