Only a few years ago, Rick Duha was languishing in what he describes as “email hell,” waking up each morning to 50 or 60 emails from Asia, Europe and Australia. Now he uses a collaboration platform created by Salesforce.com to connect everyone in his entire organization with the files, information, and expertise they need to do their jobs — anywhere and anytime.
“In less than one week, Chatter became more important to me than my morning newspaper,” says Duha, Managing Director of the Duha Group, a Winnipeg-based manufacturer of colour marketing tools that help consumers select a paint colour before they buy, including colour swatches, paint fan decks, and paint samplers.
As the man at the helm of a 60-year old, family-run business, Duha might have been content to stick with what he knew. Instead, he looked to a Unified Communications (UC) strategy as a way to help improve employee collaboration and engage his company’s customers in a new way. The Duha Group has a history of including employees in decision-making, but communications had begun to bottleneck and people weren’t getting the information they needed.
“We have 700 employees in seven factories around the world producing colour marketing materials for more than 140 countries,” says Duha. “We needed something that would let us communicate in real time.”
Like other enterprise social software solutions, such as Jive and Yammer, Chatter has an easy-to-use platform to deliver the advantages of social networking. Chief among these is ability to bring together people who would not normally collaborate, but there are other benefits as well. By incorporating assignments to business groups or individuals in a mobile feed, workers can create groups based on things like upcoming events and new accounts. They can also invite new team members as needed without any great effort to bring them up to speed since all of the information and material required to orient them is available within each group.
“It’s basically Facebook for business,” explains Duha. “Our employees have streamlined collaboration by establishing teams and using them to share updates, exchange documents, assign tasks, and engage with customers 24/7 in whatever language they speak. Last week during a conference call, a client asked for a focus group composed of a group of Millennials. We created an online space for forming this group and gathered the members in a single day.”
Duha acknowledges that some customers are reluctant to try this new technology. “People are still uncertain about how collaboration tools work,” he says. “It doesn’t really become clear until you try them and then it’s impossible to go back. Now, when we receive emails, someone reposts them to Chatter. Email is a push and read affair. Chatter lets you participate in a community and stay up-to-date with everything that’s going on – 24/7.”
As for the criticism that an anywhere/anytime corporate culture infringes too heavily on the lives of employees, Duha doesn’t buy it.
“Work time isn’t about eight consecutive hours,” he says. “I don’t care how long it takes my knowledge workers to complete a job, or where and when they do it. I’m happy as long as the job gets done and my employees are happy with reduced commute times, flexible schedules, and a better work-life balance.”
According to the 2015 PGi Global Telework Survey, Duha is right on the mark. In polling 3,000 knowledge workers around the world, the survey found that more than 50 per cent of teleworkers in all regions said they want to work remotely more often, and 60 per cent of respondents worldwide said they would resign from their current position to take a similar job with the same pay if it allowed them to work from home full time.
Making life easier for employees is important. Equally important is empowering them with technologies that enhance collaboration and drive efficient business practices.
“Anywhere, anytime is the key to gaining a competitive advantage in today’s mobile business world,” says Duha.
“It’s remarkable how a small company like ours can compete in a global arena. With one Chatter post, I can affect change in four countries. And then I can read my morning paper.”