Google Cloud Results
Total productivity increase of 8.57% over three quarters
• Overcomes internal resistance to change; almost 100% adoption within 3 months
• Embraces collaboration and file sharing, reducing use of email attachments by 40%
• Streamlines processes to help improve customer response times by up to 40%
From the warm glow of lights above counters at Subway sandwich shops across the United States, to the reading lamps at Barnes & Noble, Specialty Lighting provides lamps and fixtures to a host of leading retailers and restaurants. The company’s team focuses on providing outstanding design and customer service, including rapid shipment of products from more than 500 manufacturers.
Specialty Lighting’s business model relies on the team accessing and sharing the latest information on inventory, billing, and pricing. But Greg Carreon, VP of Information Technology at Specialty Lighting, recognized that the company’s legacy IT systems and processes were an obstacle to such sharing.
The perfect demonstration of the challenges came in a conference call to discuss a major bid. As the call began, it became apparent that there were three versions of the same finance spreadsheet in circulation. Once the correct one was identified, frantic emailing between participants ensued. Some 20 minutes after the call was scheduled to begin, discussions could finally start.
Changing the way information is shared
Despite this inauspicious start Specialty Lighting won the bid, but the experience became the catalyst for a bigger change. Greg had been seeking to move to G Suite to enable the company to work more collaboratively, such as by sharing links to the latest centrally stored versions of key documents rather than emailing files as attachments.
“Our company’s CEO happened to be on this call and could see how much time had been wasted,” explains Greg. “It convinced him that we should embrace G Suite to transform how we work.”
The support from the top enabled Greg to promote further adoption of G Suite, which, in a future-focused move, had already been made partly available to employees almost two years previously. But faced with internal resistance, particularly to embracing Gmail, Greg had to rethink his approach to the rollout.
“Most people want to take the path of least resistance,” he says. “They were comfortable with the tools they knew.” Rather than forcing change, Greg wanted to convince his colleagues about the positive benefits, which is where Google partner Prodoscore came in.
Understanding how people work
Prodoscore offered a means of seeing exactly how each member of the Specialty Lighting team was working: the volume of emails they sent, the documents they created, and the way they shared information. That meant he could obtain individualized pictures of the habits of different colleagues, which the company could then learn from to accelerate change.
“I saw a demo of Prodoscore at the Google Next conference, and I realized it would give me the exact insights I needed,” he says. Greg introduced Prodoscore as soon as possible to gain insight into workforce behavior and activity. “Set up was easy and instantaneous, and from the start I could see valuable data, down to a granular level,” he says.
Even so, Greg was still surprised and delighted with the impact of the change. Prodoscore helped pinpoint how individuals could use G Suite more effectively. “Within three months of implementing Prodoscore, we had virtually complete adoption of G Suite,” he explains.
Cutting attachments, sharing links
The benefits are apparent across the company, from internal communications to customer service. “Drive was one of our first big wins,” Greg says. “Prodoscore showed us that many project managers were emailing documents to customers, who could then amend and manipulate them. We explained to the project managers that with Drive, they could give customers access to document links instead.”
That in turn meant that customers would always be able to view the latest version of a document, avoiding potential misunderstandings.
The use of Drive immediately reduced the volume of emails that employees were dealing with, and it provided security advantages. “Colleagues used to complain that clients hadn’t received large attachments, but often the reason was email filters on the client side,” says Greg. “With Google administration tools, we can check and confirm if an email was sent successfully, but was then stopped on the client side.”
“Cloud Search has been phenomenal, especially for emails or files stored on Drive. It helps us find data that has been accidentally misplaced: you just type in anything regarding that data, and the results come up whether it’s an email, document, or presentation.” - Greg Carreon, VP Information Technology, Specialty Lighting
That knowledge further encouraged Specialty Lighting project managers to use Drive as a more dependable way to share the latest information. The volume of email attachments sent by the company has dropped by over 40% in the first three quarters since G Suite was introduced and Greg expects that figure to reduce further. At the same time, there have been tangible improvements in customer service and response times: customers that choose to use Drive are able to see product shipping information via a shared folder as soon as an order is placed, removing the need for additional emails. In general, response times for customers are up to 40% faster, and information sharing with business partners almost instantaneous.
Lower licensing costs
There were also important cost benefits to moving from an on-premises email solution to a cloud-based platform. “To maintain the on-premises solution, with two servers for redundancy, we were looking at hardware and licensing costs of over $55,000,” says Greg. “We wouldn’t see a return on that investment for seven years, but in reality, we’d have to replace the system in five. G Suite licensing is far lower, and I don’t need a dedicated admin person because of how easy it is to manage.”
Add in Google support, which Greg confirms has been outstanding, with nine out of ten queries resolved immediately, and the management benefits are clear.
Furthermore, as the Specialty Lighting team begins to understand full the potential of G Suite, the use of several other tools is rapidly increasing. “Cloud Search has been phenomenal, especially for emails or files stored on Drive,” says Greg. “It helps us find data that has been accidentally misplaced: you just type in anything regarding that data, and the results come up whether it’s an email, document, or presentation.”
Calendar has also proved to be extremely popular. “The big difference with Calendar, compared to other tools, is that it works seamlessly across devices,” says Greg. “So, for our sales team, whether they’re in the office, at home, or on the road using a smartphone, the reminders pop-up is critical to being prompt for customer engagements and putting our best foot forward.”
Hangouts for effortless collaboration
“Everyone in the warehouse now carries a smartphone with a G Suite account. When a customer wants to see what a product looks like, warehouse staff can be alerted straight away, take a picture, and share it instantaneously with customer-facing colleagues via Hangouts.” - Greg Carreon, VP Information Technology, Specialty Lighting
With widespread adoption of Hangouts Meets, the company is seeing fewer missed appointments and better attendance at internal meetings. A growing proportion of those are being conducted via Hangouts Meet, but Specialty Lighting has also found an unusual use for the same tool.
“Everyone in the warehouse now carries a smartphone with a G Suite account,” says Greg. “When a customer wants to see what a product looks like, warehouse staff can be alerted straight away, take a picture, and share it instantaneously with customer-facing colleagues via Hangouts.” That in turn means the information can get to the customer far more quickly than the previous method where the warehouse team staff would pick up a request, take a photo, download it, then email it to the project manager to pass on. The result is a faster sales process and less effort for the warehouse team and the project managers.
Understanding the drivers of productivity
Thanks to Prodoscore, Specialty Lighting can see the impact of these process changes on both individual and overall productivity. “It’s a tool that allows you to see the heartbeat of the company each day,” Greg says. As well as using it to suggest opportunities for individual development, the business can also build a picture of the factors that affect overall productivity.
“Prodoscore demonstrated how much less productive the team was on Monday mornings,” Greg explains, “so managers looked to introduce activities to energize people.” To date, these have included adopting health challenges and other programs to motivate people.
Prodoscore also showed regular peaks in productivity around the arrival of food trucks at the office, so Specialty Lighting is now more strategic about how many it allows in and how often.
An 8.57% boost to productivity levels
“Prodoscore is designed to help managers manage their teams better; they can get a better understanding of individual performance and be proactive about identifying issues.” - Jason Hubbard, Head of Marketing, Prodoscore
The use of Prodoscore also helps managers identify whether members of the team are more productive at home, which allows them to better personalize working patterns. Through these various changes, Greg estimates that overall productivity has increased by around 8.57% over three quarters since the introduction of G Suite and Prodoscore.
For Jason Hubbard, Head of Marketing at Prodoscore, this kind of usage is exactly where the product delivers most value. “Prodoscore is designed to help managers manage their teams better; they can get a better understanding of individual performance and be proactive about identifying issues.,” he says.
Prodoscore uses the Google machine learning platform, including Cloud Natural Language API to understand, from sentiment analysis and trending topics within internal communications, what productivity actually looks like at each company it works with, and even within each team. Rather than having to update KPIs manually, “it's constantly optimizing and learning,” Jason explains.
For Greg, that promises further benefits. “The more we use G Suite and the more tools that integrate with Prodoscore, the more our understanding will improve how people work,” he concludes.