Ricoh Canada staff work ‘faster, better’ with Windows 7

Overall workplace productivity has improved at Ricoh Canada Inc. with the firm’s deployment of Microsoft Windows 7, a company spokesperson says.

Based in Toronto, Ricoh Canada makes a range of office electronic products, including digital multifunctional systems, fax machines, printers, scanners, digital duplicators and more.

The firm began beta testing and then rolling out the Windows 7 operating system (OS), in January. Since then overall employee feedback – from IT admin folk to frontline workers – has generally been positive, the company says.

An easy-to-manage user interface allows Ricoh staff to work faster, and spend more face time with clients, according to Bashir Khokhar, network solutions manager at Ricoh Canada.

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Khokhar was present at the Canadian public release of Windows 7 in Toronto on Wednesday.

While many Canadian and U.S. firms have adopted a wait-and-see attitude towards Windows 7, Khokhar said Ricoh almost immediately realized the new OS would fit in well with the company’s operations.

Two drivers

Ricoh had earlier been using Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, according to Andy Ambrozic, IT administration manager at the firm.

The desire to create a uniform computing environment and maximize the potential of Windows Server 2008, were two key drivers for adoption of Windows 7, he said.

“With a recent acquisition we [needed] to standardize PCs across the country and we wanted a stable environment to run our hardware and applications,” Ambrozic said.

Favourable reviews of Windows 7 encouraged Ricoh to beta test the new OS early in January this year.

Over the next eight months, he said, the decision to deploy Windows 7 was justified as the new OS perfectly fitted in with Windows Server 2008.

How remote staff benefit

Windows 7 allows users to get the most out of Windows Server 2008, according to Brad Morrison, director of administrative solutions at Ricoh Canada.

He cited the example of DirectAccess, a technology introduced in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 to enable mobile workers to access enterprise network resources when connected to the Internet.

“DirectAccess allows users to connect to the corporate network and access applications with fewer hassles,” said Morrison.

Typically, remote users need to install virtual private network (VPN) client software on their mobile devices and establish a VPN connection over the Internet to access applications from the head office.

“With Windows 7,” Morrison said, “remote employees download applications into their mobile smartphones or laptops without this complexity.”

Administrators can also install applications with ease inside or outside the office.

RemoteApp & Desktop (RAD) – another Win 7 feature – offers users the same experience when running virtual apps as when those apps run locally on their desktops.

The result, he said, is greater productivity and customer service. “Remote employees can attend to customers, or the task at hand, rather than worry about connectivity.”

No more search hassles

Early testers at Ricoh, also found switching from one document or Web site to another much easier with Windows 7, says Khokhar.

One favourite Windows 7 feature among Ricoh Canada staff is enhanced Search, he said. “It allows them to flip through Web sites or documents without going to the Control Panel.”

It may be a simple thing, he said, but the improved user interface makes day-to-day task easier.

“We don’t have any numbers on how much this saves in terms of man-hours, but the user satisfaction factor and fact that people are enjoying the OS is a definite plus,” he said.

Desktop productivity and easy interaction with Microsoft tools and third party drivers are two key Windows 7 advantages, says Warren Shiau, senior associate and lead analyst at Toronto IT research firm The Strategic Counsel.   

These two factors, he says, will convince more people to adopt the new OS. “With Vista, there was a lot of resistance due to compatibility issues. I think for many firms, Windows 7 will come in with their hardware refresh.”

While some companies chose to downgrade from Vista to Windows XP, Shiau believes more firms will consider Windows 7.  

At some organizations, Shiau said, Windows 7 will even work effectively on machines currently running Windows XP.

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