Kennametal: manufacturing leader creates unity and harnesses knowledge with Office 365

Today’s post about Office 365 was written by Steve Hanna, chief information officer at Kennametal. 

Being a CIO is about more than just achieving benchmark performance and lowest costs for technology assets. I believe it’s really about collaborating with your business leaders to drive better overall results for the company. At Kennametal, we recognize the huge impact it makes on getting those results if we have the right people onboard, particularly when they work together.

Steve Hanna chief Information officer at KennametalBut with nearly 14,000 employees in more than 60 countries, it can be challenging to find and connect the individuals who have the experience and insight needed in a given situation. We do our best to bring colleagues face to face when they’re working together on big projects and initiatives, but it isn’t always feasible to take people away from their families and other Kennametal responsibilities. That’s why we look for other ways to open paths of communication and foster close working relationships. We develop manufacturing products and solutions, and for an innovation-based company like ours, any way we can get people collaborating, brainstorming and sharing ideas is good.

That’s one of the reasons we adopted Microsoft Office 365. Our engineering teams use its functionality for videoconferencing, instant messaging and ad hoc conversations, and document collaboration—tools that give them the next-best thing to being there. Kennametal also has created a companywide intranet called the Hub, where our engineers, scientists and manufacturing technicians all access company news, get business intelligence about competitors, and participate in internal conversations using our Yammer enterprise social network. It’s a real game changer for us to be able to reach our 5,000 factory workers more directly. In the past, they had to find a kiosk in the factory if they wanted corporate information, but now they use their personal smartphones to access the Hub anytime. Available from anywhere because it’s based on Microsoft SharePoint Online, the Hub has strengthened the sense of community for our factory and corporate employees alike.

Recognizing the extensive knowledge and experience in our workforce, particularly among our engineers and materials scientists, we’re taking advantage of our new toolset to proactively capture and disseminate that knowledge and, ultimately, innovate faster. We use the Hub to track the areas of expertise among employees and share their information across teams and geographies and between our younger employees and those nearing retirement. We’ve asked our employees to fill out profiles about everything from the schools they’ve attended to the projects they’ve worked on. This makes the Hub a valuable knowledge management resource that supports both long-term collaboration and short-term problem solving. For example, when manufacturing technicians from around the company encounter an issue, they can check the Hub and to see who has the expertise to help, and they reach out to each other—their ability to collaborate is limited only by our imagination.

On the flip side, as we bring in younger employees, we want to meet their expectations of having access to just about everything at their fingertips. We believe that technology choices like Office 365 will help us attract and retain new talent to continue the Kennametal tradition of innovation.

—Steve Hanna

Read the full story of this global manufacturing giant’s move to Office 365.