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The Warehouse Group embraces a cloud-based solution and solves a big communication headache

Consistent and instant communication with 15,000 employees was a huge challenge for the HR department of The Warehouse Group in New Zealand – until it deployed Zoho’s cloud-based business applications powered by ManageEngine.

Aug-2: The Warehouse Group is the largest retailer in New Zealand, with 22 different retail companies and annual revenue of over $3 billion a year. It has 15,000 employees. The Group faced a problem with its internal and external communications as all their information was in silos, and its employees were using various applications.

Raj Sabhlok, President, Zoho Corporation
Raj Sabhlok, President, Zoho Corporation

“They found out that they needed all this information that was in those other systems,” said Raj Sabhlok, President, Zoho Corporation. “They needed employee information, roles & privilege information, and Identity Access Management data. They needed to deploy mobile applications associated with these new cloud applications. All that intersected with IT management.”

Employees were using Excel spreadsheets, antiquated systems and their own applications. The Group was struggling to communicate with its 15,000 employees and the cost of managing IT was spiralling out of control. Six months ago, it implemented a solution from Zoho Corporation. They implemented Zoho’s cloud-based business applications for HR, communications, and customer support. The solution is powered by Zoho ManageEngine – enterprise IT operations and service management software.

“One of the things that we were not able to do was really communicate with all of our 15,000 employees. The costs were so high with other providers, in terms of getting a communications platform in place,” said Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group. “With Zoho Cliq we can now communicate with every single employee, either one-to-one or one-to-many. Our CEO can have conferences and make sure that people get to hear messages directly from him, which is a very powerful proposition for us.”

We met a lot of providers in our search for HR solutions. They just gave us their stunning presentations, whereas Zoho spent a lot of time trying to understand what we were about, what we needed, and they kept saying how customisable it was, and how keen they were to customise it for us.

— Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group.

Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group
Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group

Zoho Cliq is a business communication software meant for enhanced productivity at the workplace. It includes features like team chat, file sharing, audio & video calls etc. What’s more, it can integrate with other common applications used at the work place, like email and office automation applications.

Before using Zoho Cliq, employees would call peers on their personal phones or text each other. The Group used to handle calls from 15,000 employees for HR-related issues that would be added to health and safety, and various customer facing roles in the frontlines.  This was not the ideal way to communicate and it was causing a lot of problems internally. HR would take four or five days to respond to employees, or to get a point person to address it.

“They told us they wanted all their employees to have access to the HR application. They wanted to see the log times, do leave applications — and they wanted to do all this from their desktops as well as their mobile devices. That would mean giving 15,000 people access to a mobile application. That’s not easy to do in terms of having all your employees doing that on their own,” said Sabhlok.

With Zoho Cliq we can now communicate with every single employee either one-to-one or one-to-many. Our CEO can have conferences and make sure that people get to hear messages directly from him, which is a very powerful proposition for us.

— Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group.

The Warehouse Group then started evaluating many solutions to solve this problem. And it found that Zoho’s solutions met all its requirements. It implemented the new Zoho solution six months ago.

Zoho Corp. has expertise in Active Directory, which is a central registry or database that contains all employee information, their roles and the organisational hierarchy. Active Directory also stores access information – about who can access what system (CRM, HR, ERP etc). The information is organised by groups or departments.

“We took all of that information from Active Directory and we connected it with their Zoho People application. It is their HR MS (management system) in the cloud from Zoho. Rather than having them enter all that information again into the new app, we were able to seamlessly integrate their Active Directory with the new Zoho People cloud application,” informed Sabhlok.

Post implementation, the entire HR process is now automated and employees are getting service in near real-time using Zoho Cliq.

Collectively, the full suite of Zoho applications is called Zoho One. It is a cloud-based suite that enables employees to work from anywhere, yet stores all the information in one place – and integrates the communications.

“Zoho One is everything you would need for automation of the office employees – it is available there, from your spreadsheets to your documents to your presentations to your collaboration tools to your communication tools to your video to managing infrastructure. You get over 37 products to enable your employees. And they call it ‘The Operating system of the Business’ which it is,” said Kasbe.

Rolling out a new application to 15,000 employees, and configuring it in a consistent manner – all within a few days – is not an easy task.

“If you had everybody do it individually on their own devices, I guarantee that a high percentage would have done it differently, they would have made mistakes. The actual application and the configuration that would end up on each of those 15,000 devices would have been very chaotic,” said Sabhlok.

But Zoho could do that in a few weeks. It had already done a similar rollout for its 6,500 employees internally, using its MDM technology. Its MDM Plus solution offers an app catalogue that lists out all the apps that employees can download – and these apps can be remotely pushed on to an employee’s device.

Zoho MDM Plus took all the Zoho applications — the communications applications, the HR applications and office automation — and pushed it out to the 15,000 employee base at the Warehouse Group, in a few weeks.

The advantage of having one complete solution is entering information in one place, but accessed in many places,” said  Mark Ashton, GM, People Support, Operations and Continuous Improvements, The Warehouse Group. “So from an internal customer, you get a similar look and feel once you get used to the system. As you move around apps you intuitively know how to use that app because it’s got the same look and feel. The fact that it’s mobile accessible really opens it up for the whole organisation, that’s got multiple sites in multiple locations across different countries.”

We took all of that information from Active Directory and we connected it with their Zoho People application. It is their HR management system in the cloud from Zoho. Rather than having them enter all that information again into the new app, we were able to seamlessly integrate their Active Directory with the new Zoho People cloud application.

Raj Sabhlok, President, Zoho Corporation.

Timothy Kasbe, Chief Information and Digital Officer, The Warehouse Group appreciates the simplicity of Zoho tools like Zoho Desk and Zoho Cliq.

“We met a lot of providers in our search for HR solutions. They just gave us their stunning presentations, whereas Zoho spent a lot of time trying to understand what we were about, what we needed, and they kept saying how customisable it was, and how keen they were to customise it for us. And we found that to be true from day one. I’ve never heard of a tool that’s so easy to deploy to the end users,” said Kasbe. 

DC Analysis

This is a perfect example of digital transformation in the Retail sector. In this case, Zoho Corp. solved a problem of HR communicating with the Group’s 15,000 employees. The Group is also using Zoho’s applications for routine organisational tasks like collaboration and IT service desk.

There are numerous organisations who experience similar struggles. Today, brick and mortar companies face increasing competition from the new, tech-savvy companies that have cloud-based applications. The way forward is to integrate what they already have with cloud-based applications. The advantages are obvious: scale, integration, and centralisation of information. And since everyone is on the same system, communication becomes real-time and access to information is instantaneous.

Today’s enterprises are employee and customer-driven. Business processes need to be transformed keeping these stakeholders in mind. And businesses will look for solutions with simple interfaces, which are quick and easy to deploy.

 

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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira is an Indian journalist based in Mumbai. He has 25 years of technology journalism experience, and he's well known in the Indian IT industry. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India and has written technology articles for India's leading newspapers groups such as The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers. Brian also writes on Aviation, startups and covers topics directed at small and medium businesses. He also has event experience and once put together the conference program for CeBIT and INTEROP events in India. Email: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

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