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Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device: Key Takeaways from Yamaha's Digital Transformation Story at Gartner IT Symposium

This week, more than 9,000 IT leaders swarmed Orlando for Gartner’s annual IT Symposium and Xpo. The event focused on the strategic trends shaping the future of IT including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, customer experience, culture, and more. During the event, Fuze had a fireside chat with our customer, Yamaha Corporation of America, producer of fine musical instruments.The session covered topics such as modernizing a traditional company, UCaaS adoption, change management, and culture. Read on to see the highlights. 

Understanding the Changing Workforce

Our VP of Brand and workforce futurist Lisa Walker set the stage for the conversation, and provided insight on how newer generations such as Gen Z and Millennials are influencing the future of work. By 2025, Millennials and Gen Z will make up 75% of the US workforce— and when asked, those groups said that their primary work device will be the smartphone. 

In addition to changing expectations for the technology used at work, these newer generations have broader appetites on pushing the limits to flexible work. These mobile- first workers value flexibility in terms of how, when, and where they work as one of their top requirements when choosing a company. Over 50% of the younger workers we surveyed said they would be willing to change jobs for more flexibility, 40% said they would take on a greater workload to gain more flexibility, and almost 20% were even willing to take a pay cut. 

Lisa talked about how the convergence of workforce mobility and flexibility trends will impact the office of IT. Ultimately IT leaders will be called on (if they haven’t been already) to deliver a superior communications experience for their companies that enables the mobile flexible workers to be productive — and that can drive strong collaboration across increasingly distributed teams. To provide a strong example of what this looks like when done well, Lisa welcomed Elsa O’Hare, Director of End User Computing at Yamaha Corporation of America, to the stage along with Michael Hopkins of The Solo Project. 

Visionary IT Leadership

About five years ago, Elsa was given the challenge of reducing costs, improving business continuity, and enabling a work from anywhere environment by her IT visionary boss. She spoke about having a strong advocate as a leader and how it opened the doors for the IT team to think outside the box. Like many companies, Yamaha’s ability to connect with customers over the phone is their livelihood. They needed to have a reliable, secure solution that could offer the flexibility and mobility that their users yearned for. They looked to the cloud and evaluated communications as a service. Why? They didn’t have to worry about managing hardware and equipment on site, freeing up the team to focus on other strategic initiatives. 

Ensuring Security and Continuity in the Cloud

Elsa acknowledged that there are security risks with any type of software in the cloud. There is always a chance that something can be breached. But she views the cloud as having additional benefits and pathways to ensure security, along with a dedicated team to safeguard the company. A majority of Yamaha’s employees live in California where earthquakes and fires are common, and the cloud gives users access to the tools and applications they need to work even if they can’t make it into the office. 

Employee Experience and Recruiting

Many of Yamaha’s employees are musicians, and while recruiting hasn’t been an issue, it’s important for the IT team to think about employee experience, culture, and how best to equip users with the modern technology they need to be successful. All employees are set up with a company laptop and a suite of cloud applications so that they are able to work from anywhere. 

Out of Sight or Out of Oversight? 

The company has put a set of requirements in place to ensure all employees who work remotely remain productive. Employees must use the company laptop equipped with Fuze Desktop. This way, employees can stay in touch with calling, meeting, and messaging, along with keeping their status up-to-date in the platform so their colleagues know how to reach them. This has helped build trust and accountability.

Change One Step at a Time

For Yamaha, they simultaneously embraced change both step by step and all at once. They kicked things off with a proof of concept to ensure Fuze met the different needs across their business. Then, they rolled out Fuze in their call centers one at a time to ensure their customers and dealers weren’t impacted in any way; later, they completed the deployment across their corporate offices and locations. In doing so, they eliminated nearly all of their desk phones (with the exception of those belonging to executives) and enabled all users with softphones and headsets. But it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. Some employees had different preferences regarding the headsets, but over time those challenges became obsolete. 

Initially, many senior leaders were resistant to the chat functionality of Fuze because they had never had a solution like that in place before. These executives were always used to writing emails or picking up the phone when they needed to touch base with colleagues. Now, the majority of users use chat over calling. 

Elsa’s last bit of advice? Take time to talk with employees to learn their use cases, challenges, and objections. You may learn that some users just need a little encouragement that their hair will look fine even if they are wearing their headset! 

Amanda Maksymiw

Amanda Maksymiw

Amanda is responsible for setting and managing the Fuze content marketing strategy including creating, producing and publishing engaging content. Throughout her career, she's worked with fast-growing tech companies and VCs on developing content marketing, influencer marketing and social media strategies. Amanda received her BBA in Marketing from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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