Results and benefits
- Reduction in travel and operating costs
- Simplified unified collaboration and communications (UCC)
- Increased collaboration improves productivity
- Time saving and increased efficiency
- Smaller headquarters reduces carbon footprint
A glimpse at a tech titan’s blueprint: BMC software uses Polycom solutions to drive massive collaborative culture change
Business and technology publications like Forbes, Fortune, and Harvard Business Review tout the benefits of a collaborative culture and how the right technology plays a crucial role in making culture change successful. However, the industry is also abuzz with accounts of organizations that have fallen short in their efforts to turn this concept into real-world practice. It’s no surprise that global IT leaders are looking to Scott Crowder, CIO of BMC Software, for insight on how to emulate his recent success in transforming BMC’s culture. In just a couple of years, how did Crowder achieve sweeping changes that are saving millions in communications costs and building a collaborative culture? Here’s a peek at the principal elements of Crowder’s IT blueprint.
Walking through the office of the future
A walk around BMC headquarters in Houston shows open, airy seating, with presence indicators lit up green or red according to each employee’s availability. The workspace was downsized from 45,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet in a transition to an open floorplan that has the dual benefit of reducing the BMC footprint while facilitating collaboration. Offices in Santa Clara, California, an 1,800-person location in India, and all major BMC facilities in the UK have switched to the open floorplan designed to build bonds by breaking down six-foot cubicle walls.
BMC recently completed a Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) deployment across 50 locations worldwide. Now, 6,000 BMC employees are using Polycom and Microsoft Enterprise Voice and Skype for Business solutions. “It’s a game changer. It has changed the way we interact,” says Crowder.
The daily scene at headquarters reveals BMC professionals of every stripe engaging with international teammates over video. Some are leaning in, some are leaning back, but all are engaged. Crowder tells an anecdote of the Chief of Staff in India who sent a picture of himself and his team collaborating on Polycom® RealPresence® Group Series, visibly excited about the amazing voice and audio quality as they work from home. “People enjoy these workspaces and having the technology to collaborate around the world,” Crowder says. And BMC has the numbers to show it.
Collaboration minutes going through the roof
“We used to do 6 million minutes a month of audio conferencing. Now, we do more than 10 million minutes a month in audio and video conferencing collaboration,” Crowder says.
The increase in collaboration minutes came with a decrease in spending, in part due to implementation of Polycom® RealConnect™ and Skype for Business. Before 2013, BMC was spending $380,000 a month for 5-6 million minutes of conference calling with the previous conference provider. Associated expenses cost BMC an additional $2 million per year in SaaS and PBX provider services.
When Skype for Business was implemented, costs dropped to $15,000 a month while collaboration minutes nearly doubled in a single month. “Overall, we were able to eliminate $5 million a year in annualized operating expense while taking collaboration minutes through the roof,” Crowder says. Travel expenses were reduced by 13%, a result of Polycom, Skype for Business, and internal travel policy. Though the main driver of implementing Polycom technology was cost reduction, there’s also been value in cost avoidance. More virtual business meetings happen as a result of reduced travel and costs associated with increased minutes on pre-Polycom/Skype systems are avoided.
Building a Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) organization
Most organizations operate with some variation of these IT teams: audio-visual, business systems that run Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange, networking, and telecommunications. So, too, did BMC.
To build a truly unified, world-class enterprise UCC organization, BMC had to do exactly what the name indicates: remove the silos and unify. All teams were placed under one leader for true accountability. Restructuring all groups into one set the foundation for a strong UCC organization.
Ross McElroy, BMC’s Global Director of Unified Communication and Collaboration, heads the UCC, pulling in the support of other departments and business units to make it all come together—not just the aforementioned teams, but also information security, help desk, facilities, and of course, executive leadership.
UCC empowers the BMC community to connect to anyone, anywhere at any time, with one experience across all devices, all meeting rooms, and locations. Polycom systems’ integration with Microsoft applications made for an easier deployment than it would have been had they chosen other systems that are considered a bolt-on to Microsoft Office. “Polycom endpoints fit right into our IT ecosystem. They’re built around Microsoft applications, like Skype for Business and Microsoft Outlook, that our employees already use every day, “says McElroy.
As part of that ecosystem, BMC is federated with more than 100 customers, suppliers, and partners such as Polycom—meaning that a BMC employee can easily see any of these external parties’ presence indicators and easily hop on an ad-hoc video conference.
Mobilizing adoption services team
Regardless of how easy the technology is to use, the company’s leadership knew it couldn’t just hand new technology to people and expect them to use it. So they built this idea into the blueprint early, allowing time and resources for BMC to double down on employee adoption efforts. Before the changes were rolled out, a four-person adoption team analyzed how users would receive the new systems, formulated the most effective processes for training, and strategically carried the technology into the enterprise. Between town hall meetings, onsite orientations, lunch and learns, implementation, and seeing how easy the technology is to use, the transition was more seamless than expected.
Simplifying entry into virtual meetings
Previously, the process to join a conference call was time consuming and confusing. The attendee would have to find the link from the meeting invitation, locate the meeting ID and passcode, dial 1-800 first, enter first and last name and web ID—a process that took at least 3-4 minutes for each attendee to connect to every meeting. Four minutes per attendee per meeting adds up to a lot of wasted time. Scott Crowder and Ross McElroy work in lockstep to ensure simplicity remains a fixture in BMC’s technology environment. “Before Polycom built the glue [Polycom RealConnect] that pulls Skype for Business and group conferencing systems together, you had to do all kinds of acrobatics to get into a meeting. Now, with RealConnect, you walk into one of our conference rooms and click 'Join'. It’s that simple,” Crowder states. All BMC conference rooms looks the same, with a Join button on the console, and an additional step to share content with others.
Proactive monitoring identifies the bad apples
Even the most sophisticated technology requires users to employ best practices to maximize its capabilities. BMC builds world-class monitoring technologies, one of which is used to monitor and manage Skype for Business and Polycom infrastructure to proactively pinpoint where problems may occur. Consider this scenario: a user is on WiFi at home presenting to 50 people on a call and the video is “chopping up.” The perception may be that the video conferencing program doesn’t work well, but the problem is that the presenter isn’t using best practices. In this case, using home WiFi is ill-suited for real-time voice and content-sharing applications. BMC’s monitoring systems detect—via MOS (mean opinion scores), round-trip delay, lost packets, jitter, and similar metrics—which bad apples are ruining meetings. The BMC team then acts on a report of the Top 100 “offenders” and addresses those users individually by providing them with best practices training.
Tailoring solutions to the job function
In conjunction, the company recognizes personas based on the types of users. Office workers have 1 gigabit connections to their PCs, but the road-warrior salespeople and those in the field working with partners have different setups. Targeted training to these user profiles is more effective than a one-sizefits- all approach. In BMC’s major development offices in North America, India, and the Ukraine, you will find research and development and Agile software development teams using real-time white boarding on RealPresence Group Series, and Polycom® RealPresence Centro™—the circular video conferencing system with a 360-degree camera that captures everyone in the room in the spirit of a dinner table or campfire. Engineers enjoy the casual, beanbag chair atmosphere, eye contact, and, not insignificantly—the coolness factor that millennials and digital natives respond well to.
On executives’ and directors’ desks, you will find Polycom® RealPresence Trio™ modular smart hubs with unmatched voice quality and content sharing capability from the executives’ mobile phone, tablet, or PC. When one BMC executive in London found that when his iPad crashed, he was able to conduct business on his RealPresence Trio without missing a beat.
Executing on a holistic approach
From designing the blueprint to focusing on details such as selecting Skype-aware WiFi, Crowder advises a holistic approach to implementing collaborative technology. Judging by BMC’s success, the approach is working.