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Global Portal Case Study_APQC 9.04


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Summary article created by APQC based on the presenation of a Case Study on the strategic integration of Hitachi and IBM hard drive business in 2004.

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Global Portal Case Study_APQC 9.04

  1. 1. Building an Enterprise Portal Post Merger By Nadia Uddin When two established companies merged into a single manufacturing powerhouse, the information technology (IT) team was given the responsibility to create a brand new knowledge- sharing organization. Diane Jacobsen, senior manager at Hitachi Consulting, and Hitachi Global Storage Technologies’ Kevin Mara, corporate Web master/senior Web technologist and Patty Ross, senior project manager, discussed at APQC’s 2004 knowledge management conference how their project to create a portal post-merger quickly turned into a project to create a unified front for the company. Addressing a Need Hitachi Global Storage Technologies was formed in January 2003 when Hitachi acquired IBM’s hard drive business. Prior to that, both businesses had their own cultures steeped in existing knowledge and intellectual property. It was the job of the IT team to create a single Web portal, in which the employees felt that they were part of a new team and venture. “From day one, our objective was to create a Web portal that was the single source for company information,” said Ross. “When we were forming this company, we wanted to find a new culture and a new mode of operation. So we started the portal three days after day one [of the merger].” The company called this internal Web portal HiWire. The objectives of the portal were to provide global contacts from one central source and centrally provide corporate information for all global sites. “We were in an interesting situation where we had two large companies with very different cultures coming together,” said Mara. “Most importantly, we had employees with different ways of managing information coming together. In a lot of ways, we had the advantage of being able to start from scratch but at the same time having these wonderful resources available. Yet we knew we had to put a new portal in place to link these knowledge sources and people together.” Mara and his team drafted a vision of what the portal meant to the company. Building on business methods inherited from IBM and Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Global Storage Technologies’ goal was to enable its business operations to provide e-business solutions for its customers, suppliers, and employees. “We made sure we understood our in-house resources that we had from the two heritages,” said Ross. “The difficult thing was that everybody worked the way they always worked. So it was vital that we made sure everyone on our team understood what our goals were and what we were trying to accomplish for this new business.” The IT team was given a strict deadline of six months to launch a Web portal. The first priority was to integrate the two corporate directories, which was ostensibly simple. However, the IT team had more than 20,000 employees from two different companies merging together. “It was crucial that we at least provide the perception of being one company,” said Mara. “Knowledge sharing and knowledge management start with being able to find people with shared knowledge. That was an important goal.” With high expectations from employees and the corporate office, the IT team had several challenges ahead of them. Those included dealing with two cultures, working within a tight budget, and integrating two physical networks. Developing a Portal In developing the portal, the IT team set up different areas of expertise: the management team, the design team, the implementation team, and the rollout team (Figure 1). 1
  2. 2. Figure 1 Ross said the teams were set up to integrate knowledge sharing between both companies but took advantage of skill sets from existing work teams. “We wanted to make sure that we picked the right people to go into the new areas of ownership.” The IT team worked with the stakeholders to understand the key business initiatives. “We pulled together everyone from the different business areas into one room locally,” said Ross. “We told them: ‘Here’s the approach we would like to take. Let us know if we’re headed in the right direction.’” To ensure the portal teams had global input, the IT team prepared the portal for multiple language capabilities and involved global sites in the planning process. “We met in person or over the phone during the planning process so that everyone was in sync,” said Jacobsen. When developing the taxonomy, the IT team identified end users by functional roles. They conducted one-on-one interviews with potential end users, as well as distributors and original equipment manufacturers. They also conducted group sessions to understand how the content would be used. Once the data was collected, the IT team weighted the information by frequency to get a full view of how people searched for and used information (Figure 2). “This spreadsheet summarizes all of the content that people were using and the frequency of use,” said Jacobsen. “A lot of time during the discovery and design phase was spent gathering information from end users in the business on how they thought about the information that they were supplying.” 2
  3. 3. Manufacturing 1 Manufacturing 2 Weighted Total Admin. Asst. 1 Admin. Asst. 2 Engineers 1 Engineers 2 Managers 1 Managers 2 TOTAL Frequency Content Items Daily Bookmark 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 1440 Daily News 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 1440 Daily Search the Web 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 1440 Daily Notes 1 1 1 1 1 5 1200 Daily Applications & Systems 1 1 1 1 4 960 Daily San Jose 1 1 1 1 4 960 Daily Desktop 1 1 1 3 720 Daily Intranet Password 1 1 1 3 720 Daily Useful Links 1 1 1 3 720 Daily Business Units 1 1 2 480 Daily Calculator 1 1 2 480 Daily Content Search 1 1 2 480 Daily Conveyor Page 1 1 2 480 Daily Diskweb 1 1 2 480 Daily Employment 1 1 2 480 Daily External 1 1 2 480 Daily HiFind Search 1 1 2 480 Daily Human Resources 1 1 2 480 Daily IBM Blue Pages 1 1 2 480 Daily Manufacturing and Development Locations 1 1 2 480 Managing Content When the IT team started developing the portal, it realized that it would provide a front end for the new company, as well as a tool to manage content. “We made a decision to find portal technology and implement it and live with existing content management capabilities until we were ready to address the issue,” said Mara. (The IT team is currently analyzing its content management systems.) From the beginning, the IT team recognized that the different locations had different content needs and that each user’s home page must be region-specific. Users can select their home page from a list of all eleven sites. Figure 3 is an example of a customized intranet site for a user 3
  4. 4. in Japan. Figure 3 “Now you can change that any time,” said Jacobsen. “So people are able to choose their site and the content changes depending on which site you choose.” Governance plays a large part in content management for the Web portal. “We didn’t want people going off and building their own version of sites,” said Mara. “We wanted to make it clear to the community that even though this was their Intranet site, it had to reflect the corporate brand and culture. Providing standards and an approval process has helped us in the long run in getting people to understand where things need to be.” Lessons Learned Jacobsen described some lessons learned in planning, designing, and implementing the HiWire portal. One of the first lessons was preparing for global readiness. “I highly recommend that you not only talk to the global business, but also involve them in the process,” said Jacobsen. “Global governance needs to be developed with global input. We did a lot of reviews, but we didn’t have them actively participate as much as we would have liked.” Jacobsen also found that properly training employees on how to use the technology is vital when developing a portal. “Everyone wanted to manage their own content and was eager to learn how to publish until they found out that it wasn’t as easy as they hoped. Having something very simple where people don’t have to learn new skills is important for content management.” Another lesson learned is to decide upfront which specific administrative tasks should be delegated and which should be loosely held among the IT team and the rest of the content owners. “Japan was the first group to embrace doing both delegated administration and distributed content management,” said Jacobsen. “They sent over a team to the U.S. for two weeks to sit down with us. That turned out to be the best way because we had the experts in San Jose help whenever we ran into a road block.” Because user adoption was high, response time for business requests became a problem. “We had so much adoption that we got flooded with requests,” said Jacobsen. “We didn’t have a large enough team to respond. And because we couldn’t respond, some people who really wanted to participate found other solutions. You should have a plan in place in case of great user adoption. And then you should be ready when it happens.” Acknowledging accomplishments was also recognized as vital for clear business communications. “We were so busy working our collective tails off that we didn’t have time to communicate what we were doing,” said Jacobsen. “We made it look so easy that no one had any idea how hard this was, and we didn’t stop to communicate it. And when it came time to get additional funds, we had a challenge. Talk to the business that you’re delivering a solution that works for people. I think that’s something that we all forget to do.” In addition to acknowledging accomplishments, measuring results will allow everyone to understand success criteria. “We have three or four measurement mechanisms that we conduct on a regular basis,” said Jacobsen. “Now we publish those results out to the global community so that they understand how beneficial this is.” Also important is making measurements much more available and able to be tailored to different business owners. “We have business owners who have in their annual appraisal their market share of the intranet site,” said Jacobsen. “That is part of their evaluation criteria.” 4
  5. 5. Overall, the IT team at Hitachi GST was able to develop a Web portal that united two different companies within a strict deadline. The project was successful because everyone had positive attitudes and respected each other’s competencies, said Ross. Having clear objectives and ensuring that those goals are understood by all gave everyone the same level of achievement to reach. 5