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HK firm creates idea melting pot for 4,000 employees

Carol Ko | Jan. 16, 2014
Hong Kong-based apparel manufacturer Esquel Group has recently rolled out Yammer to 4,000 plus employees across Asia for better engagement, collaboration and innovation within the Group.

"But we believe a few years down the road, there will be no more desktop in our company," Ling noted. "Instead, the desktops will largely be replaced by the use of more popular devices like tablets and mobile phones. Accordingly, the 'redundant' system administrators will be allocated to focus "more on business alignment."

"Yammer offers rich team collaboration functionality which can drive productivity and innovation anytime, anywhere, and on any device. It also demonstrates its great value in terms of staff engagement for resolving problems, team collaboration for project management and innovation for new product ideas," Ling said.

"With Yammer, our employees can now instantly provide us with constructive feedback and new concepts, helping us break barriers across cultures, geographies and hierarchies to accelerate innovation throughout the organization," Ling added.

Turning complaint into actionable item
This was how Esquel turned a factory staff complaint on Yammer into an actionable item, potentially benefitting thousands of employees.

In October 2011, an Esquel worker in its Gaoming factory posted a compliant on the company's Yammer group criticizing the inefficient manual card charging system (for buying meals), which wasted each worker up to 30 minutes lining up in the queue.

The compliant on Yammer drew a lot of discussion, including some 40+ ideas to solve the card-charging problem generated in two weeks.

"Within just four months we introduced a kiosk solution that enabled automatic IC card recharging. This saved our workers a lot of queuing time," Ling said. "To close the loop, we invited the staff who originally posted the complaint to check out the new solution, and she became very satisfied."

Concerning whether Esquel has put in place any administrator to monitor staff comments made on Yammer, both Wong and Ling said "No," adding that it is important for the company to adopt a relaxed attitude towards it. "Otherwise, nobody will post comments on it [Yammer]," Wong added.

In addition to Yammer, Esquel Group has moved over 7,000 users to Microsoft's Exchange Online in 2013 as part of the Office 365 deployment. By the end of 2014, Esquel Group will also migrate to other platforms under Office 365 including SharePoint Online for knowledge management and Lync Online for web-based conferencing.

According to Esquel's CFO, the biggest benefits that cloud computing brings to the company are the enablement of mobility, collaboration and "always on."

"Of course, cloud is just the technology layer. What benefits you reap from cloud depend very much on what applications you put on top," said Wilkie Wong, CFO (Hong Kong and Overseas), accounts and IT, Esquel.

Moving more to the cloud
"Besides packaged tools like Office 365, we'll continue to explore how much of Esquel's in-house developed applications can be migrated to the cloud," he added.


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