October 25th, 2013 | Published in Google Enterprise
Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is JJ Van Oosten, Group Chief Information Officer for Travis Perkins plc, the largest supplier of building and home improvement materials in the United Kingdom. See what other organisations that have gone Google have to say.
Travis Perkins has been in business for more than two centuries, and one reason we’ve endured is our ability to form lasting relationships with our customers. We work with builders for 20-30 years, and get to know them and their families well. And when builders retire, we continue relationships with the sons and daughters who take over the family business.
We create a sense of family within our company, as well, and that’s why so many employees stay with us for a long time. But because our company holds fast to traditions, and our processes have worked so well for so long, Travis Perkins is not always quick to innovate or react to trends. As an example, we still make our customers – who now prefer to do a lot of transactions via mobile devices – collect up to nine paper forms before they can leave one of our branches with the materials they need.
When I took over the Group CIO role at Travis Perkins, I got to thinking about our culture and heritage, and wondered how we could embrace the efficiency, productivity, and mobility of the digital world while also maintaining our tradition of building deep relationships. When embarking on a major journey, you need a guide. Google was my natural choice for an innovation partner. Their products promote interaction and collaboration, they understand mobile, inside and out, and their technology is web-based and cloud-based. And Google’s rapid consumer-centric innovation keeps the business moving fast.
Within a few weeks of contacting Google, we worked to launch our Google Apps gateway and our IT department began using Google Apps. The transformative power of these tools soon became clear. Meetings with my IT team took only 15-20 minutes instead of an hour. We collaborated on documents in Google Docs, so there was no need to review that content when we met – we could focus instead on core issues. The time savings and efficiencies Google enables are undeniable.
The company decided to bring in the whole suite of Google products, including Google+ and Google Chrome. To help with the transition, we trained 2,000 internal Google “champions.” The training, conducted in person or via Google Hangouts, was fun and emphasised collaboration and the ideas of “space” and “freedom” – that with Google, you could access what you need anytime, anywhere.
The champions, on their own, created a community on Google+. As we rolled out Google to 8,000 people at a time across 17 businesses and central functions, employees started to consult the community for advice. It was company wide collaboration evolving naturally, in real-time, and it was amazing to see. This collaboration appealed to the core values of our people, including those who’ve been with us for 40 or more years. They could see positive relationships forming between colleagues through Google and wanted to be part of it. We even bought 5,000 new Android phones because employees who hadn’t been using smartphones now wanted to be more connected and mobile.
Next year, we plan to use the Google platform to help our branches move away from outdated paper-based processes to approaches that are far more digitised and customer-friendly. We expect our Google champions to help us drive this change, and others, so we can improve the ways that we do business.
You don’t just move to Google for email or calendars. That’s basic. You do it to embrace the digital world, and mobility, and release the creativity and collaboration that every human being wants to experience. Google has unleashed a great deal of energy and potential in our team at Travis Perkins. Importantly, the drive for change in our organisation is not being mandated from an executive’s office, but growing from the grassroots up. It is originating from the employees at Travis Perkins who are now innovating with Google.