Today’s post was written by BNSF Chief Information Officer, Jo-ann Olsovsky.
BNSF Railway is one of the largest freight railroad networks in North America with a history that extends back 160 years. Our growth and success has always been driven by our employees. But today, we also rely on various IT tools to help them be even more productive.
Ninety percent of our employees are geographically dispersed, operating trains, maintaining the track, working in rail yards, and interacting with customers, so we need up-to-date communication and collaboration tools that work with our employees, regardless of where they are or what device they use. Many of our employees are approaching retirement and we want to find a way for them to pass their expertise on to a new generation of workers. Likewise, the next generation of employees is accustomed to modern day social tools as a communications mechanism. At the same time, we have an economic incentive to reduce IT operating costs.
The consumerization of technology, including a “bring your own device” [BYOD] program and better integration of social media, is a business imperative at BNSF. We looked at cloud services as a way to offer our employees the most up-to-date yet practical and user-friendly technologies–without investing in additional infrastructure to run those services.
We chose Microsoft Office 365 as part of our Railroad 2020 vision for modernizing the productivity portfolio at BNSF. We looked at other offerings but everyone at BNSF and our customers preferred the familiar Office experience. With Office 365, we can implement our BYOD strategies and employees can share ideas, surface information, and work productively anywhere, on any device. For me, Office 365 is like a “happy meal”—you get the meal, plus side items, like the ability to access your documents from anywhere, and we can add Yammer Enterprise to enable social business.
Within a week of hearing about Yammer, more than 800 people had signed up on their own. Now with Office 365, we expect Yammer Enterprise to be an enabler for day-to-day knowledge sharing and a tool that our experienced employees will use to pass along their expertise to the next generation of BNSF employees.
Microsoft has been a key partner in helping us drive change in our organization. We are working with Microsoft Cloud Vantage Services across life cycle planning, deployment, and support, including migrating more than 40,000 employees to Office 365. Their insight has helped us plan and execute this change for our organization. We no longer worry about missing important emails because inboxes are full. We have much more storage space for employees, and instead of saving important files to a shared drive or PC, employees will be able to save them in cloud-based storage where they are available anywhere. And users love getting a text transcription of their voicemail right in their inbox.
With Office 365, maintenance employees anywhere on BNSF’s network can access the emails that they need to help operate the railroad; mechanics in a shop can check their manuals online, and marketing reps can download service presentations while in a customers’ office. Improved mobile productivity means keeping up with business demands.
Office 365 fits perfectly into our vision for cloud computing and allows us to reduce infrastructure costs for core business productivity services so we can focus on developing the in-house applications that we need to run a railway. Our goal is to empower employees with the tools that they need to work smarter and be successful, out on the rail network, or in the office, and Office 365 is helping us do exactly that.
For more, read the press release.