ORLANDO, Fla. — Yamaha Corporation of America needed to make it possible for its global workforce to communicate and collaborate anywhere, anytime and on any device — while reducing costs.
This is a common problem for legacy companies fighting to remain competitive in a modern world. Yamaha, which began more than 130 years ago when Torakusu Yamaha built his first reed organ, found its solution with global cloud communications and collaboration software.
The financial savings came when Yamaha cut hardware and maintenance costs, stopped paying for circuits and freed up an employee who had been overseeing its old system, according to Elsa O'Hare, director of end user computing for Yamaha.
Transitions are difficult and scary, especially for century-old companies. Standing pat is comfortable, but can torpedo the bottom line. As frightening as it is, upgrading equipment, giving workers new tools and teaching them new skills is playing out across the tech landscape.
Yamaha shared the lessons it learned while switching from desk phones to head sets to cell phones at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday.
"We tie our own hands," O'Hare said. "We are afraid to take baby steps, so we take no steps and we end up crawling."
O'Hare's team took up the task of identifying and analyzing every step of all of the legacy processes that had led to Yamaha being in need of a digital makeover. What O'Hare and her CIO landed on was unified communications as a service providers.
This was a major move and one that required in-house resources along with an external company.
Here are four ingredients to Yamaha's success:
1. A visionary CIO
A CIO with vision and an eye for modernization can encourage managers and employees to think about the bigger picture. O'Hare took over a greater tech load when her "visionary boss" moved her oversight from telecommunications to computers.
"He freed me up to look at what everyone was doing. We were challenged to think about cost reduction and business continuity and working anywhere," O'Hare said.
2. Cloud security
There is always a security issue, O'Hare said.
The cloud offers "more security than what we had," she said. "It's not that we don't have to do anything. … Our IT group makes sure our security works. We work with Fuze and I don't lose sleep because Fuze is continuously improving."
3. Remote employees
The company had to work around the assumption that remote employees are not productive. At Yamaha remote employees have goals and tasks that are required. They have to be available when called and they have to show they are online.
"Gen Z's and millennials want to work from home," O'Hare said. "Sometimes they work harder at home. It's not that big of a deal."
It's a viable and reasonable option, as long as companies offer remote work. When managers allow oversight of remote workers to squash that option, they lose out on a growing part of the workforce.
Yamaha's changes were not instituted all at once. The rollout began in Canada and ended at its headquarters in Buena Park, California less than six months later.
The gap between awareness of an issue and execution can be wide, said Malcolm Gladwell, author and Gartner Keynote speaker on Wednesday. In his talk, Gladwell cited three reasons for the lag:
- Generational difference
- Implications of technology are not obvious
- Strategic ideas need time to take hold
Yamaha, which has employees who have been with the company 40 or more years, eventually realized it had an issue. The idea for transition began "years" before it was implemented, said O'Hare.
But Yamaha was a viable company; things that had worked before were still in effect. When there was no visionary CIO, there was no one to identify the benefits or push for strategic ideas.
Enter companies like Fuze, Zoom, RingCentral and 8x8. Some are phone-first, some are video-first, but all are working to modernize enterprise communications.