SAP IT is migrating our Outlook Servers from 2007 to 2010. Since about 60,000 people are on Outlook and since we are all addicted to our email, this is a big and important undertaking for our IT department. We got the usual warning emails, procedure documents and training videos preparing us for the migration. In spite of all this prep, things almost always never go completely smoothly. We end up asking a support person or a colleague for some help at least once during such exercises. Sometime it is about a wrong link, missing password or a usability problem. When 60,000 people do this, it costs SAP IT and SAP Employees a lot of time and a lot of lost opportunity to do value adding technology projects.
The usage of mobile devices has compounded this problem. We have close to 20,000 iOS devices and thousands of BlackBerry devices. Email has to be configured in those devices as well. When you put this all together it adds up to about 100,000 devices. SAP also has a bring-your-own-device policy. This further complicates things.
Our IT colleagues recognized this and did something very smart. Apart from the training material they also created a community for this migration. Yesterday when I had a problem with my iPhone email, I did not call support. Instead, I went to community and saw a colleague, who I trust, had already faced the same problem and had solved it. I simply followed what he did and got my email working in less than 5 minutes.
I suspect that the community will eliminate the need for tens of thousands of support calls for our IT department. It will also eliminate the possibility of lower productivity during the migration. I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation. If we assume that a regular support call lasts for an average of 15 minutes between two people, the cost of the call is about $100. There are a total of 100,000 devices including laptops, mobile phones and tablets. It is safe to assume that ten percent of the total population will run into issues and call support. 10,000 eliminated support calls means a cost savings of $ 1 Million. These are rough numbers. But you get the idea. Collaboration tools not only save money for a company, but also are becoming an essential part of doing business.