BNSF Railway: Unified and Communicating

Jo-ann Olsovsky discusses how BNSF Railway supports its widespread and increasingly mobile workforce of 40,000 employees with unified communications.

We focused on developing a communications plan around unified communications that stressed the value proposition. The subject matter experts who I mentioned before were also invaluable as we went through this journey. There were some people who voiced their displeasure, saying, “You’re messing with my voicemail!” Once they understood the changes and the many layers of options they now had, they were sold! A big hit was the voicemail sent to you via email functionality. People don’t “log in” to voicemail anymore. They simply play the audio attachment on their email to hear their voicemail messages and can forward or delete accordingly. 

You mentioned that a priority going forward is to continue to transition to Lync and to replace your aging PBXs. What else do you have planned?

We have been interested in the consumerization of technology, and like a lot of companies, we are identifying the application of various aspects of that trend to our business. Those include a “Bring Your Own Device” program and better integration of social media and technology. We are going to pilot [Salesforce.com’s] Chatter.

The mantra for us is to offer communications tools that enable people to be productive on their terms. That is the essence of the consumerization value proposition. The employees we are hiring don’t use email much in their personal lives. They are much more comfortable with texting and using social media for communications purposes. As a mother of young children this was not so surprising to me. What has been surprising was how many of our colleagues of longer tenure are also changing the way in which they communicate and collaborate. They have really embraced these collaboration tools. Our strategy now is much more a reflection of that change. That is ultimately why our people embraced these new tools when we implemented unified communications.  I can only say we’ve been thrilled with the results so far.  

About the Author

Peter High is president of Metis Strategy, a boutique IT-strategy consultancy based in Washington, DC. A contributor to CIO Insight, High is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, and the moderator of the podcast, The Forum on World Class IT. He can be reached at peter.high@metisstrategy.com.

This article was originally published on 01-29-2013
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