Global tools manufacturer Stanley Black & Decker is taking a step-by-step approach to cloud collaboration. Its first steps, with a roll-out of OneDrive and now a plan to implement Yammer, have been a response to business users adopting their own tactical solutions.
It will take until 2016 to begin moving the global intranet to SharePoint Online, after work began early last year to consolidate various predecessors onto an on-premises SharePoint 2013 implementation. With an estimated 5TB of distributed content and more than 40,000 global employees to migrate, it's a multi-year process. As Chris Teer, eDelivery manager for the company's global IT application services, told delegates at this month's SharePoint 2014 conference in Las Vegas:
"We don't have licensing in place yet to go full-blown, move everything into the cloud. We want to get our toes wet and explore it, so we're on that path. It's going really well so far. Maybe in a few years we'll get there."
For now, the SharePoint-based intranet is giving the organization a unified platform to start learning the ins and outs of social collaboration. It is replacing a mishmash of 22 different portals that had sprung up in different business units across the organization. Everything is set to converge on just three regional hubs, one each for the Americas, EMEA and Asia.
The new portals are already live and in use to distribute company news and information. The platform also forms the basis for a mobile news application, after an earlier project to develop one internally foundered on the lack of in-house HTML5 skills.
For now only corporate communications staff can post items, but anyone can add a comment or like an item. "They're learning how to do social for the business. It's been pretty effective," said Teer, adding that participation is already progressing well:
"The activity you see on the home page — people are commenting and responding — that's a measurement right in your face that people are in this every day and interacting with this site."
The first cloud roll-out was a response to the reality that hundreds of employees were storing and sharing files on unauthorized platforms, mostly Dropbox. This was despite an IT policy that forbade it, said Teer:
"They've been told not to use Dropbox for two years but they still use it ...
"Our main push to get into the cloud came from Dropbox. Huge numbers of people were using these unauthorized storage services in the cloud."
The company finally settled on rolling out Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service — but not before almost adopting Box. Teer's team had recommended Box at the beginning of 2013 but management rejected the suggestion on grounds of cost and a lack of dedicated support. "Luckily at that same time OneDrive for Business became available," said Teer.
After first being activated in October, 100 users are now on OneDrive. Early user groups include executive teams who need to look up information on the go and field sales teams who need access to documents when out with customers. OneDrive's integration with Office has proven to be a big asset, said Teer:
"They needed to be out in the field and, from their iPads, access a company document like a Powerpoint slide or something you want to present to someone ...
"Once we got them onto OneDrive for Business, and they were actually able to open up the Powerpoint document in Office Web Apps, they were blown away that the formatting didn't go all to hell like it did when they opened it in Dropbox. So they were very happy about that."
From an IT governance point of view, having control over access through OneDrive has made a big difference, said Teer:
"The great thing about it is, once they leave the company they can't access that document. It's much tighter controls than we ever had."
There have been very few support calls, said Teer — perhaps one a week from a hundred users currently on the service. There had been initial issues with networking, due to the need to modify Active Directory user names that had originally been set up for internal use only, which then had knock-on effects on other systems. There were also teething problems with ADFS settings. Another source of support calls had been confusion between the personal and business versions of OneDrive when installed on a mobile phone.
After the initial wave of 100 users, the team is developing automated account provisioning and auditing scripts for the next rollout to 700 users. A total of 3,000 Office 365 licenses have been purchased and all will ultimately have OneDrive access.
Months not weeks
Yammer is in line to be the next cloud service for deployment. The aim is to replace a wide range of platforms that have been adopted in an ad hoc fashion across the organization — ten separate instances of Salesforce Chatter, along with examples of Jive, Google+, Facebook and others. There's no way to share social data across these systems and very little control over access when employees leave.
Teer's team is promoting the value of embedding Yammer discussions in other applications, including in Office365 but also in Sharepoint where it would replace the more basic native commenting technology currently implemented. Of course there's also the consideration that Yammer is included in the enterprise license for Office365. Said Teer:
"Yammer is a strong contender, it integrates with everything."
Teer's own team of three gets support from an offshore resource and another small team at its implementation partner Orckestra. With limited resources to oversee the global collaboration infrastructure across Stanley Black & Decker, it's no surprise that progress is measured in months and years rather than weeks.
In an example of the kind of delays that can beset implementations in a larger organization, the rollout of OneDrive was delayed by a complex partner selection process. That in turn pushed the deployment phase too close to the IT department's annual year-end freeze on new servers and firewall reconfiguration, adding extra months to the timescales.
This is the reality of the installed base that Microsoft has to confront as it hustles its customers to move faster to the cloud: even when they go as fast as they can, it all takes time.
Disclosure: Box is a diginomica partner. Microsoft funded the author's travel and expenses to attend the Sharepoint 2014 conference.
Image credits: Construction worker with drill by TommL © iStockphoto; Chris Teer portrait by @philww