Most international organisations with high standards understand that delivering an exceptional experience for all customers is key. As CIO of Hawkins Group, New Zealand’s largest privately-owned construction and infrastructure company, Hannes Van Zyl has had plenty of experience with raising the customer satisfaction bar.
The strategy: implement the latest industry innovations and best of breed IT solutions. This commitment to excellence has led Hawkins Group to serve a variety of international customers and concurrently manage large-scale projects across continents. In this guest post, Hannes shares his key strategies for ensuring a satisfied customer.
Hawkins IT needs are vast and many. We work in places where typically people aren’t located yet, which means our biggest problem is getting effective communication to the places where we are doing construction work.
Our overall goal is to build better communities, so we’ve come to understand best practices across the board. We recently upgraded the Christchurch Airport Terminal, converted Auckland’s diesel train network to electrical power, and built new business and IT learning facilities over the transport hub at the Manukau Institute of Technology. We are part of New Zealand schools’ first private-public partnership for two of its schools in Hobsonville. Currently, we are working on Nadi Airport in Fiji, the first large scale roading flyover in Papua New Guinea, and two geothermal power stations in Indonesia.
So, what does IT mean for Hawkins? It means efficiency, it means effectiveness, and it means a better gain from a profit perspective.
Here is an overview of the importance of IT within our company, what solutions we chose to implement as part of our recent technology upgrade, and the ROI we have seen to date. Keep in mind we are just six months into our journey.
Delivery of anywhere, anytime communication was key
Our biggest problem is getting effective communication to the places where we are doing construction work. Everything we do is communications based and we place enormous value on being able to deliver effective, best class communication within our organisation. To us, face-to-face interaction can enhance your team’s rapport and collaboration capabilities, which directly influences the customer experience. If your team can effectively manage projects, it’s a means to ensuring quality, and subsequently, customer happiness.
Within Hawkins, IT has played a key role in improving our ability to maintain competitive advantage and deliver great client outcomes. Hawkins implemented Polycom solutions and Microsoft Lync Enterprise Voice across the business, which included a voice and video platform. With Polycom solutions, we were given the tools to support a more efficient and flexible working environment, including improved face-to-face communications between our teams based around New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia.
Video collaboration delivers greater reach and operational efficiency
We have significantly upgraded our video collaboration capabilities. We integrated Polycom and Microsoft solutions across our international offices, which has enabled us immediate global reach between staff and the variety of projects we manage.
At the outset, we rolled out the Lync system (now Skype for Business) first. This ensured people understood how to use it and get the best value out of it. Then we went looking for a video system that natively integrated with Lync. That’s where the Polycom Lync Room Systems came into play. It’s just opened up the whole integration thing 100% for us. It makes it so simple for users to use. There is not multiple bits and pieces users need to know and understand in order to fire up the software in the right sequence. It’s now a simple case of walking into a room, hitting a button and the whole system comes to life. The use of video within our company has skyrocketed with the capability that has been implemented through the Lync Room Systems. You have to book ahead to get room access.
Smarter collaboration linked to business workflow delivers strong return on investment
Real time on-screen collaboration via face to face video conferencing has aided our projects greatly. The biggest benefits have been the efficiency gains from better collaboration.
From a customer perspective, working at the customer sites, the Microsoft Lync implementation has opened up a complete new avenue for us. The guys use IM quite a bit and there’s the enterprise voice side that goes with your device. So wherever you take your device you have got full communication capability to link back to the mothership at any point in time. So LRS and the whole Lync system partnered with the Polycom technology has just opened up huge capabilities for us within Hawkins.
We no longer need to ship large documents between people, which has been a major time saver. Notes can be easily sent to attendees post-meetings. Travel time has been decreased as we can use Lync to work together from different locations. Communication and awareness across the project teams has greatly improved.
By having better visibility of staff availability, and communication at everyone’s fingertips, employees have been able to send relevant information to each other much quicker. Training has been improved significantly, and experts can remotely train users through screen-sharing capabilities.
By adopting forward-thinking video conferencing solutions, conversations have been a whole lot easier and a lot more cost efficient, and those savings extend to voice over IP. We were already paying for the data links, and it made fiscal sense to use that same infrastructure to handle our voice side of things as well.
Improved workplace experience is driving people engagement and retention
Video conferencing capability through the Polycom systems gave us a whole new environment and a whole new tool in our toolbox to provide face-to-face communication. We were able to engage people a lot more so that they felt part of the business, and not remote, as many of our people are when they provide project-based work. The room systems have been an absolute eye-opener for most of the organisation. Now people feel connected. They feel part of the organisation. They can share content in meetings regardless of where they are, whether any part of New Zealand or anywhere in the world for that matter.
That especially matters from a customer perspective. We can integrate and engage with our customers a whole lot better. We work, for instance, with customers in Japan now. Before we had communication issues, and had to fly people across for meetings, with a lot of cost involved. Now it’s all done through video conferencing.
From better connectivity, to a reduction in our toll-spend, we could call our communication strategy a huge win. Polycom solutions have accelerated our journey to enable an activity-based workplace.
Building a business of the future
Technology is certainly creating a platform for us to build a business of the future. What we have seen in the marketplace is that we now have people wanting to work at Hawkins knowing that we are highly technology enabled. The technology has certainly had a great knock on effect for us in not only retaining staff but attracting new staff too.
We can now communicate more effectively, spend less time gathering information, and travel has been greatly reduced. Overall, the resulting efficiency and productivity gains are helping us deliver much better value for our clients, and demonstrates the Hawkins commitment to continually delivering successful projects.
So it has certainly transformed the way we do business within Hawkins and I’m looking forward to a much bigger transition when people really start getting comfortable with the technology.