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For PGA TOUR, A Move to the Cloud is just Par for the Course

As some of the world’s greatest golfers convene for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, millions will tune in to see which of the competitors will bring home the championship. Little do these fans realize, however, the number of professionals working behind the scenes to ensure a seamless day of play and provide the analysis and commentary they’ve come to expect from their viewing experience. Throughout our history, PGA TOUR has always looked for new ways to enhance how fans enjoy the sport. Recently, that’s meant undergoing a digital transformation: by building an IT infrastructure with the flexibility to meet expectations and moving to the cloud.

Until quite recently, PGA TOUR has relied on a legacy system of on-premises hardware to manage our information technology needs. This includes a number of standard (yet important) functions such as email, voice, and document sharing. However, PGA TOUR, like most businesses who have followed this model, are seeing these systems as a cost center, requiring significantly more upkeep and resources as opposed to one based in the cloud. Not only that, but with 800 employees located in our Florida HQ, another 150 full-time remote staff and the 400+ team members working for our 17 TPC golf clubs, it has become critical to find solutions that not only enhance collaboration, but also enable employees to work from anywhere. Over the last four years in particular, we began to realize we could provide the best support by migrating to a cloud-first environment.

Getting Employees On Board for the Move to the Cloud

The process itself became quite the micro-study of human behavior. It isn’t enough for us in IT to convene and determine which cloud tools will be most effective for our staff. Without the buy-in from senior leadership and widespread adoption from employees, we’d essentially be deploying a business tool that is ultimately ineffective at meeting the needs it was designed to satisfy. This was particularly tricky for us given the average employee tenure is 12 years. With some employees having been with PGA TOUR for nearly 30 years, people certainly have their go-to tools. Any change to that and you can expect to be met with some resistance.

Take email, for example; one of the simplest of work functions. IBM Lotus Notes was the email system of record for 25 years, but when employees began asking for something new, reactions were mixed. A third of the company loved it, another third loved it but had no idea how to operate it, and the remaining cohort argued it was a step in the wrong direction. Getting people to make a change, particularly if they are entrenched in their ways, is difficult. Add to that an IT department that needs 100% cooperation to ensure a successful digital transformation, and it becomes even more challenging. But once you take that first step with respect to the cloud, the benefits become clear over time. It’s a domino effect: once the pros of moving to the cloud become evident, it’s simply a matter of time before there’s no reasonable case against making the switch.

Communication Drives Adoption

Organic growth of these initiatives can be expedited by identifying early adopters within your organization and turning them into your chief advocates. These solution evangelists can be a huge asset in helping to transition employees over, and easy the burden on IT. Adoption never takes place overnight. It’s a snowball effect, one that quite often succeeds when initiated at the highest level of an organization. It signals to staff that the decision isn’t just a new tech initiative or something solely owned by IT, but part of a larger culture shift. This two-pronged approach is critical in not only signaling to employees that the business is taking this seriously, but they have ambassadors to turn to with a deep understanding of why this is beneficial to them. At PGA TOUR we’re nearly five years into our efforts, and if there’s anything we’ve learned it’s that communication is key. Consistent company updates, identifying power users and alpha groups to test drive systems and ultimately establish advocacy programs are vital components. You’ll find that over time, your employees will cross a threshold. They won’t come to you looking for a new tool, they’ll look to see how their current tools can help solve their everyday problems.

Ultimately, employees and staff are naturally going to adopt the tools and processes that help them get their job done. In today’s environment, that translates to seeking out applications that mirror the consumer experience. It boils down to functionality and an intuitive user interface. Without either, employees may very well opt to use unsanctioned apps instead. By rooting these tools in the cloud, you are enabling them with the flexibility they need to succeed in a rapidly changing environment. Whatever your priorities are today, they are likely to change within two months’ time, so set yourself up to pivot as necessary. Ultimately, that’s where businesses will see the most value in moving to the cloud.

 

Doug Edwards, PGA TOUR (Fuze Customer)

Doug Edwards, PGA TOUR (Fuze Customer)

Doug Edwards is the Senior Director IS, Customer Services, at Fuze Customer, PGA TOUR.

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