Published on 17-Nov-2011
Validated on 11 Feb 2014
"IBM Connections is ideal for quickly posting one’s thoughts and feelings. We can use it as a foundation for gathering the opinions of employees and customers throughout the world." - Koji Hara, information systems director, Roland Corporation
Mobile, Social Business
Roland Corporation manufactures electronic equipment, including electric pianos, organs, synthesizers, percussion instruments, musical amplifiers, guitar-related equipment, professional video and audio, and computer music equipment. Headquartered in Hamamatsu, Japan, the company employs around 3,100 people and had consolidated revenues in fiscal year 2011 of JPY78,270 million. With manufacturing operations and sales affiliates around the globe, Roland focuses on expanding its worldwide business through sustained innovation.
Roland Corporation needed an IT infrastructure to help employees share information and collaborate around the globe.
The company created a social network powered by IBM Connections and IBM Lotus Quickr software.
Using the social network, employees can informally share information and ideas wherever and whenever they choose, helping enhance productivity and creativity.
The need to share information
Since it was founded in 1972, Roland has achieved a leadership position through its creativity and technological depth, establishing many firsts in technology and products. Yet in recent years, innovation has become more globalized, diversified and individualized. Fostering creativity requires a high level of information sharing, communication, cooperation and collaboration among employees in diverse markets worldwide.
For example, Roland is advancing a local production system, making products close to where consumers use them. These products are based on technologies developed in Japan. The goal is to make the business more efficient in terms of transportation and other factors while supplying products that match each region’s differing needs. Naturally, local product development, production and sales depend on close collaboration among employees in Japan and those overseas.
This need for collaboration challenged Roland because the company lacked a technology infrastructure for effective horizontal information sharing. Roland used IBM Lotus Notes® for email, a company bulletin board and workflows, but the functionality was only available in Japan. In addition, there were three systems for content management and sharing, but only a few employees understood them, and search capabilities were rudimentary.
An electronic public square
To address its challenges, Roland engaged IBM Business Partner Acro-X Corporation to roll out the Roland Horizontal Enterprise Agora (RHEA) solution. Agora is the Greek word for public square, which aptly describes what Roland envisions the solution to provide. Powered by IBM Lotus® Quickr® and IBM Connections software, the RHEA social-networking service is designed to support the information sharing, knowledge management and collaboration a global corporation requires.
In February 2010, Roland deployed Lotus Quickr online team collaboration software to help employees access and interact with the people, information and project content required to complete work. With Lotus Quickr software, team members can quickly and easily share documents and information using team spaces, content libraries, discussion forums, wikis and connectors.
Five months later, Roland deployed IBM Connections social software with its Web 2.0 features that unite people from across the global organization. Employees can connect with specialists and access expertise worldwide with searchable profiles, blogs, wikis, forums, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and histories of problems solved. Information is much easier to access and share through online communities of interest, meeting places and file sharing. Further, with support for mobile devices such as iPhone and iPads, employees can network and share information from any location at any time.
With the majority of users based outside of Japan, contents shared on RHEA are originally developed in English and then translated into each region's native language. However, to ensure the acceptance of RHEA solution by the company's global workforce, it was critical to provide a user interface in the native language of each user. Both Lotus Quickr and IBM Connections software work with multiple languages, which serves Roland well. Although the RHEA service is still early in its lifecycle, Roland expects 90 percent of employees worldwide to participate over time.
Improving productivity and sparking innovation
The RHEA solution’s core mission is to improve business processes through easier communication, cooperation and collaboration across geographic boundaries. In addition, this electronic public square provides a venue for making internal experts and knowledge more visible and accessible. It also facilitates informal sharing of concepts and ideas as they develop, helping harness the organization’s collective creativity.
These capabilities deliver concrete business results to Roland. “Lotus Quickr works well for managing and tracking the progress of projects,” says Koji Hara, information systems director, Roland Corporation. This is apparent from a recent initiative to introduce a new product worldwide. Nearly 200 employees in marketing and sales were involved, some 90 percent of them working overseas. Lotus Quickr software, which the company used to manage the entire project, gathered and stored all information about the product launch. “With the ability to share information at an early stage about overseas sales locations and products, it was easy to set up websites for the sales activities to accompany the product announcement,” says Hara.
Hara also notes how online collaboration makes staff members more productive. As Roland becomes more transparent, “the number of in-person meetings and the time spent on them is decreasing right before our eyes. What’s more, the ability of Lotus Quickr software to manage and present any file type makes a big difference in employee productivity,” Hara says. For example, during the product launch, employees could access video clips about exhibition and show locations. “And since all project content is stored and accessible, it can be leveraged for other projects in the future,” Hara continues.
Connections software also improved Roland in other ways. It raised the profile of specialists and expertise within the enterprise and increased the visibility of creative opinions, thoughts and ideas, including those from Roland customers. Integrating IBM Connections software with anytime-anywhere mobile devices provides the means to share and access thoughts and information easily and readily. The company can send and collect information from staff members and customers 24 hours a day from around the world.
“Such information may not have a clear shape, but it has great value,” says Hara. “We will store the information to make it usable, organize it and fuse it with analysis technology to increase that value.” In fact, the company’s future goal is to use analytics to collect and deliver relevant information to employees through personalized desktop dashboards. “This will not only give employees faster access to high-quality information,” notes Hara, “but it will also enable them to make more accurate decisions that improve business results.”
Products and services used
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America November 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Lotus Notes, Lotus, and Quickr are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.