Preparing for rollout
The rollout of Office 365 initially stemmed from a pilot that Fuhrimann and Tobias Glatthard, Information and Knowledge Manager for the customer field service unit, were involved in at Swisscom. Both were “Genius”-level employees within Work Smart Now, a company program that allows employees to personally engage in the way the company works internally, share knowledge, and implement new digital tools.
Responsible for the internal communication strategy in their unit, the pair had access to a pilot project to study how Office 365 could be used for their needs—looking at every tool from Microsoft Teams to SharePoint to Outlook, Planner, Stream, and more.
Glatthard believes this pilot was a key factor in driving change fast, building a platform that was fully integrated with everything else his people would need, such as news and document management. “We were in a very early phase when we started thinking about the implementation of the Office 365 rollout within our unit,” he says. “We really appreciated the pilot program because we could work out guidelines and prepare our users before actually rolling it out bit by bit.”
Fuhrimann believes the pilot also offered the technicians and wider company a chance to see the simplicity of using Office 365 tools when mobile. This experience gave swifter buy-in and cushioned the fear of moving away from shadow IT such as WhatsApp. “Life is much easier now for our technicians because we have a suite of tools that are highly integrated and really easy to use and understand,” he says.
“They are standard tools you can download in the app stores, and now we are major users of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft SharePoint. Our technicians were really happy to make the switch from our fragmented communications platform. The whole community has a much higher quality of answer and the technicians can do a better job.”
One positive byproduct of the implementation has been increased transparency, security, and communication; technicians now have a wider circle to call upon rather than just their own teams. Fuhrimann adds, “Managers are involved so they can read and answer questions. The communication has fewer levels of hierarchy, so managers and technicians can communicate directly in both directions.”
Glatthard believes such fast and effective success has come because, culturally, the Office 365 and Teams platform was easy to integrate, no matter the “digital fitness” level of individual employees. It has also enabled the unit to deliver a system that can be used in the field between assignments―for example, technicians reading documents or spending time engaging with others. According to Glatthard, this integration has improved overall productivity, with each group of technicians having its own unique tools and setup in Teams, together with Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Stream. The system was provisioned from the start in collaboration with the engineers to ensure everybody finds the right space for them.
Another advantage the unit has discovered is how quick and easy the system is to use, and how quickly it can be updated, speeding up operations and increasing efficiencies through fewer barriers to engage, creating a more agile and dynamic interaction. “Those periods are now much shorter than before,” explains Glatthard. “If one person sees a problem, something that doesn't adapt or information that is incorrect, most of the time that person is able to change it directly.”
The move to Office 365 has also allowed the unit to fully embrace Swisscom’s “open-book” philosophy, which aims to make it easy to share knowledge—something the pair acknowledged wasn't always simple for the customer field service unit to do with the tools they had.
“People now see they can easily build groups in Teams all over the different units, not in the silos, so ones that are more project or theme-oriented” says Fuhrimann, who praises the simplicity of the new system. “It is increasing this ‘open-book’ philosophy, and these Office 365 tools are pushing that.”
With 5G on the horizon, this platform will further allow the customer field service unit to more easily share knowledge over video using Microsoft Stream, offering every technician a new way to communicate. But for now, it is giving the unit its own autonomy to do its job more effectively for its customers.
"This solution has enabled us to have a direct impact in the way we communicate,” says Glatthard. “While we appreciate our big communication portals, we now have the best of both worlds―a highly integrated solution that allows us to publish content independently."