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Google Enterprise, Mobility and Business Transformation at Woolworths

Collaboration is one of those themes that I have been hearing a lot about recently from CIOs

In my research on companies that are transforming themselves by adopting an integrated SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) strategy, I came across a recent blog article by the CIO of Woolworths Limited, Dan Beecham.  I will share some excerpts from it here.

Woolworths is an Australian company that was founded in 1924 in Sydney. Today Woolworths has more than 3,000 stores across Australia and New Zealand that span food, liquor, petrol, general merchandise, home improvement and hotels.  Last fall I had the honor of being invited to teach a SMAC strategy session for Woolworths at their beautiful campus outside of Sydney.

This is what Beecham said about their strategy, "We've decided to move to Google Apps and Chrome. Changing to a cloud-based suite of tools is a key part of our strategy to use technology to promote greater collaboration, productivity and effectiveness."

Collaboration is one of those themes that I have been hearing a lot about recently from CIOs.  Companies are recognizing they need to listen more to their frontline employees, remote and mobile workers and customers.  Frontline employees and customers are the closest people to the real-world.  If you are trying to be agile, nimble and responsive to changing markets and consumer behaviors, then you had better be listening to the feedback in these areas.

In today's world speed is everything.  Knowing when new trends are emerging, new markets are forming and where there are problems in the supply chain or in customer service is crucial.  You also need to know the sentiment of your employees and customers if you want to respond quickly.  Enterprise collaboration and social media listening and engagement are absolutely required.

Here is more from Beecham, "Over the next 12 months we will be rolling out Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk to the 26,000 staff in our national and state offices. This is the first phase of what we hope will be a company-wide transformation of our workplace technology."

Transformation is happening in the retail space.  It is coming like a tsunami whether you want it to or not.  It will not wait for the next budget cycle or the completion of your three-year plan.

Beecham continues, "The move to Google Apps and Chrome builds on the successful roll out of Gmail and our ‘Tap to Support' App on iPads to Woolworths supermarket store managers last year. The custom-made application, built on Google App Engine, helps our managers stay on the shop floor and focused on customers by allowing them to log a support ticket with our national support office in just one click rather than being tied to a PC in the back office."

This is an excellent example of how enterprise mobile apps can change the way business is done.  Store managers are untethered from their offices and desktop computers and can now manage their store and provide better customer service from the frontlines in retail, which is with the customers.

In this next excerpt Beecham lists the benefits of working collaboratively, using cloud-based apps and from any mobile device.  "Soon more of our staff will be able to experience the productive and collaborative benefits of being able to work from any device, anywhere. Geographically dispersed teams, like our merchandising or state based workers, will be able to use Docs to collaborate in real-time."

In my conversations with CIOs, we are no longer simply talking about developing clever mobile apps to help with expense reports, time sheets and work orders.  Today, we are talking about innovation, business transformation, new business processes enabled my mobility and collaboration.

To read the complete blog article from Dan Beecham click here -http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2013/04/report-from-down-under-woolworths-goes.html


********** Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) Cognizant

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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.