Minimize search, magnify collaboration
Millions of employees at professional services firms know this drill well. Locating documents and expertise in a large, global organization can be like finding a needle in a haystack.
But Korn Ferry has found a better way. The global organizational advisory firm helps large enterprise clients attract and retain talented people and align their talent strategy with the enterprise’s business strategy. Through acquisitions and organic growth, Korn Ferry has doubled in size in recent years. That’s more people in more places who must be familiar with more business practice areas.
“With growth this fast, the chances that any given client relationship owner understands all our services is zero,” says Bryan Ackermann, Chief Information Officer at Korn Ferry. “So, collaboration is key. We want to minimize the search, find, and share pieces of a problem so we can maximize the collaborate piece, because that’s where we add value.”
Korn Ferry uses Microsoft 365 Enterprise to do that. Microsoft 365 combines the power of Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 10 Enterprise to deliver a comprehensive set of cloud-based services that promotes creative, highly secure collaboration.
For years, Korn Ferry has used Office 365 to centrally store and share documents and provide cloud-based email to its global employees. Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint Online are replacing the company’s file server infrastructure and making it easier for colleagues to essentially reach across oceans to access the documents and data that they need.
But as SharePoint sites, multiple corporate intranets, legacy shared drives, and collaboration tools such as Yammer and OneDrive folders proliferated, it was sometimes difficult to find documents, and collaboration was too dependent on email.
Then came Microsoft Teams.
This Office 365 service pulls multiple tools into one application for streamlined teamwork. “We didn’t do a formal rollout of Teams; we just turned it on, and within three weeks we had more than 500 teams engaged,” says Ackermann. “That’s a fantastic indicator of how easy it is to use.”
In the opening example, if the beleaguered client partner worked for Korn Ferry, the story would have had a happier ending. With the authentication protections provided by Microsoft Azure Active Directory, the account manager would sign in to resources across the firm from his phone, getting to work right away.
Using the intelligent search and discovery capability in Office 365, he would search not only all SharePoint sites, legacy locations, and OneDrive folders, but also his company’s key non-Microsoft business applications, shaking out every possible helpful resource, no matter where it was hidden. A 10-second search in Office 365 would surface all relevant documents and staff members, replacing hours or days of frustrating phone, email, and rummaging through file shares.
He would create a Teams channel for the new project and use it to send a shout-out to colleagues around the world, asking for expertise in succession planning, availability, and background resources.
As experts surfaced, collaboration on the channel would accelerate and get richer. Team members would live-chat, share documents, modify documents together in real time, and develop a winning pitch with frictionless ease.
By 7:00 PM on Friday night, the proposal likely would have been done—in about 60 very fruitful minutes versus an exhausting three to four days.
That, in fact, is how teams now work at Korn Ferry. “With Microsoft 365, we make it dramatically easier and faster for an individual to bring the full power of Korn Ferry to clients,” says Ackermann. “They blitz through the searching and sharing phases and get to the collaborating and problem-solving phases much faster. This lets us respond to clients faster with the right resources.”
“Crises aside, Korn Ferry employees use the same artificial intelligence (AI)-driven power of Office 365 intelligent search and discovery to surface relevant content. This capability uses machine learning to study how an employee uses Microsoft 365 Enterprise and who they interact with, as well as direct them to relevant people and content.”
“Because we have so many people using Office 365, it doesn’t take very long for intelligent search to get really smart,” says Ackermann. He uses the feature to better manage his time and stay abreast of his team’s work. If his group has an important meeting coming up, he sees them preparing through an intelligent search dashboard and can monitor the progress of their presentation. If someone has a question, he can jump into the document and provide assistance in real time. “I no longer have to ask my staff, ‘Are you ready?’ I can see where they are and when I’m needed so I can get ahead of problems,” Ackermann says.