We met with Sharon Huang – IT Business Analyst for Yahoo, Taiwan – to discuss her project, which introduced Chromebox for Meetings to their business with Cloud Technology Solutions (CTS).
What’s special about the way Yahoo works?
What’s special, I think, is that our environment is positive, open and that communication is at the centre of everything we do. We’re located in many different countries but we’re still able to work closely together, to communicate clearly and ultimately work as a team. A prime example was getting the Chromebox for Meetings project off the ground. Having it deployed globally and reaching 1,000 rooms; we were able to accomplish that in one month! This was all down to our strong, team orientated environment.
What have been the issues which pushed you to change how you did things?
In the past we had different video conferencing systems throughout the company, which was a real challenge. From a user perspective it meant you went into one room and had to figure out which other office it was connected to. Essentially though it was a question of not enough conferencing systems. Take our office in Taiwan: we had 75 meeting rooms, but only 6 of those hosted systems – it just didn’t balance out. With over 1,000 employees in my office building, you can imagine we were constantly looking at the calendar, trying to book a slot. Not only that but some of these systems were only able to be connected with the support of IT! We had to eliminate all of that and install a unified conferencing system through which everyone could be connected.
What was it about Chromebox for Meetings that fitted what you wanted to achieve?
Our conferencing scheduling system is actually on Google Calendar, so Hangouts made sense as they can be incorporated into what we already use. In terms of cost it was reasonable and meant we could implement the products in hundreds of rooms globally. I would say from a customer experience perspective, our users wanted something that’s easy to adopt and that they can pick up anywhere. With Chromebox for Meetings you can do this – on your tablet, iPad, Android phone, iPhone, your desktop – anywhere! With offices in so many different timezones, that’s a big plus. Also the interface is easy to use: there aren’t many buttons, the layout and instructions are clear and you don’t need to have an IT background to understand how to use it, which our employees like.
Do you have a technical background?
I’m more on the business operations side of the IT team, so I’m not like the technicians. With a project I’ll cover the planning and the budgeting but with Chromebox for Meetings, it’s easy to use so I didn’t have to ask the technicians to help out, which ultimately saved time and money.
Can you give us an overview of how the project ran with CTS?
We worked closely with our Account Manager at CTS, so the process was easy and everything was clear. For example the timeline: when the order left production, when it left CTS, when it arrived to our local office – it was all clear and mapped out so we didn’t have to ask for updates. When you’re running a project like this you have milestones, so with CTS we were able to plan and keep up with these.
So did you have a timeline from the beginning?
After explaining to CTS we wanted to have the systems in place in four weeks, they told me how to make this possible through each international office and how best to deploy, with insights into localised user experience. This was important for our offices in Israel and Dubai, which can experience customs issues. The CTS team was always prompt with emails, which is essential with the time difference. It helped complete the project in such a short timeline.
With Yahoo’s international reach, how many teams were involved?
We deployed Chromeboxes across our international offices. All over the world, really.
Was it difficult to choreograph a project such as this, globally?
Internally it wasn’t that difficult, but externally it was about finding the right vendor to support us in order for it to be a successful project. I found it easy to work with CTS and they were clear throughout with what to expect at each stage. Our CTS Account Manager dealt with the sale but also oversaw the service that came with it; as a customer, that’s really important. I needed to feel I could trust the vendor and feel satisfied at the same time. I wanted to be able to work with them and have my concerns and questions answered. Since this was a new product for me and the company, I needed to know I was doing the right thing.
How does a Google product fit within a Yahoo environment?
I get asked this question a lot! There’s no conflict, more the issue that to develop our own product – having all our engineers working on it, testing etc. – would probably take months to do. So knowing we wanted to roll this out in a month, what made sense for us as a company? Chromebox for Meetings was the best solution and considering we were already using Google Calendar, it integrated easily in.
How did you help this integration process?
We had our IT technicians install the Chromebox and set up the whole meeting room. Then we had user sessions showing how it worked and the various functions available. We also posted self-help documents alongside a discussion blog, where people could post their queries. The process was separate for each office but the material was consistent so that we offered uniform training globally. This meant everyone was on the same page.
What are Yahoo’s long term goals, with this purchase in mind?
It’s making what we do in the long run easier.
How would you sum up the experience?
I think the whole experience has been great. Everything was on time and communication was super clear, which is so important when you’re doing business with a vendor. We’ve had positive feedback from all our users so overall I think CTS were great; one of the good vendors! I hope we can work together again in the future.
Comment from CTS Account Manager, Dan Ackers.
“Working with Sharon and her team across Europe has been brilliant. They were already using Google Docs, so keeping track of contact details, delivery addresses, ETAs and shipping information was easy. I often find myself taking collaboration within Google for Work for granted, but working in Google Sheets on such a large project made communication so much easier. We had several calls between California and Taiwan, so being able to follow up given the huge time zone difference was ideal. And the best bit? Having our first Hangout after the initial Chromebox for Meetings installation!”