Business Software

Tips for More Efficient Collaboration

Agile applications, efficient collaboration among co-workers, and interconnecting people and processes are the three main pillars that optimize business performance, according to an IBM executive.

Artwork: Chip Taylor
"How business can change, how people can collaborate, and how technology can support the business are elements of 'Smart Work'," explained Manoj Saxena, vice president, global solutions and asset management, IBM Global Business Services. The Smart Work initiative is one of IBM's global corporate strategy called Smarter Planet. He was speaking at IBM ASEAN Leadership Exchange in Singapore.

IBM is advocating its services and software to support the three pillars. For instance, the vendor is offering its business process management applications to support business change, its Sametime enterprise chat tool to drive collaboration, and its expertise in SOA to help connect and support an organization.

IBM's clients have already taken up the Smart Work initiative, said Saxena. One example is a customer from the public sector that is looking to improve road traffic management by optimising traffic flow based on real-time citizen data. Instead of continually building roads, governments can look to build road tolls that charge according to the amount of traffic, added Saxena.

IM is the way forward

Another client under the Smart Work program is Japanese industrial automation and electronics component maker Omron. The manufacturer adopted Sametime 6.5 as its enterprise IM tool to allow employees across the region to communicate efficiently and drive down communication costs.

The manufacturer has at least 25 facilities, including sales offices and warehouses, spread out across eight countries in the Asia Pacific. "As the Philippines office has no warehouse, any inventory checks require a series of IDD calls," said Lim Keng Hean, senior manager, information technology, Omron Asia Pacific.

With Sametime, the result was a 30-per cent reduction in overseas calls and a reduction in e-mail storage space. "Previously, an e-mail string about just one query contains a long history of appended comments and replies from numerous respondents," said Lim. Posting and answering to questions on IM reduces wastage of space on the e-mail server. Also, the users can now obtain immediate responses or confirmation on IM.

IBM should also be pleased to know that Lim's team is working smart in its efforts to roll out the IM project. To ease any resistance, he adopted a bottom-up approach to implement the system on individual business units so as to gain numerical support. The exercise did not cost him much in terms of the IT resources either; he just had to reuse one old production server and it took half a day to set up the system.

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