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By Microsoft Customer Stories on October 10, 2016

Filed under Discrete Manufacturing

Tire manufacturer uses Office 365 to drive innovation for maximum business impact

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company believes in bringing the best new products to market as quickly as possible. The company recently adopted Microsoft Office 365 to support its drive for innovation, taking advantage of cloud-based services to unite dispersed teams, streamline processes, and improve mobile productivity. Today, Goodyear associates reach across geographical boundaries and time zones to share knowledge with colleagues regardless of location, speeding up every facet of the business.

Strength in numbers

The name Goodyear is synonymous with quality. As a leader in the global tire industry, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company delivers top-rated tires to consumers around the world. Although many organizations find it challenging to maintain a global presence, Goodyear considers its wide reach one of its strong suits. “Certainly there are cultural and language differences to address when you maintain a global workforce the way we do, but we consider that diversity a strength,” says Sherry Neubert, Chief Information Officer at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. “Our diversity not only helps us deliver better products, but it also makes Goodyear a better place to work.”

The company prides itself on hiring and retaining a talented workforce so that it has the expertise to lead the industry in innovation. Ensuring that its associates get what they need to be effective is a priority at Goodyear. “We want all our associates—from the plant floor to the boardroom—to be able to be productive,” says Neubert. “In the past, we received feedback from associates who wanted a more integrated, modern set of technology capabilities, and we wanted to honor that request because it would make for a more efficient work environment in which associates were better supported.”

Expanded opportunities

Goodyear embraces new technology to ensure that its associates have the capacity to promote collaboration across internal and geographical boundaries and to support productivity from anywhere. “Goodyear chose Microsoft Office 365 because it’s both modern and stable,” says Neubert. “We looked at other services, and although they had modern capabilities, we questioned their maturity. With Office 365, we got a tried-and-true offering that we knew would be stable yet also deliver advanced technology capabilities.”

Data privacy, security, and compliance were also critical to the company’s decision. “Our legal department, risk management group, and human resources organization thoroughly reviewed our options to make sure the one we chose would support continuous adherence to all our requirements,” says Neubert. “Like other global companies, we must comply with all local regulations. Office 365 gives us confidence that we can remain in compliance from a data privacy and security standpoint.”

An efficient rollout

To implement Office 365, Goodyear took advantage of its project management expertise. The effort began with executive sponsorship and the identification of one associate as the change enabler for each department. The company then conducted a phased deployment. “We predetermined the criteria that each department needed to meet, such as having more than 70 percent of the department’s associates trained or converting a certain percentage of its mail files,” says Neubert. “Only if all the criteria were met would that department go live.”

The company also created a live support network of about 100 IT professionals who provided online Office 365 support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From anywhere in the world, Goodyear associates could ask a question online via live chat, and a colleague would pop up to answer it. The company’s deployment was also aided by consultants from Microsoft Services. “The strong, clear communications through our change network, coupled with our partnership with Microsoft Services consultants, enabled us to have a successful launch,” says Neubert.

Goodyear rolled out the first wave of Office 365 services in January 2014 and completed migration of its 32,000 Lotus Notes email users a year later. Today, associates all over the company use Office 365 to stay better connected, including plant floor associates who use a mix of kiosks and mobile devices to access information and services through Office 365.

The right tools for the job

Goodyear associates now benefit from a range of communication and collaboration options. The company moved away from Lotus Notes email messaging and now uses Microsoft Exchange Online instead. Associates also use a combination of Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus and Office Online as a productivity suite, based on their personal preferences. The company employs the Click-to-Run feature in Office 365 ProPlus to ensure that the latest release is deployed across the enterprise.

Goodyear is migrating the majority of its team sites to Microsoft SharePoint Online. “Rather than having static team sites, we’re creating dynamic, highly collaborative spaces,” says Neubert. “Providing our project teams with an integrated, real-time experience saves time, avoids version-control issues, and helps streamline business processes.”

Associates also switched from Cisco WebEx to Skype for Business Online for everything from instant messaging to Skype Meetings, and team members rely on the Yammer enterprise social network for knowledge sharing across the company. “Now that our environment offers powerful choices, we want associates to consider what they want from a particular communication and channel and use the best Office 365 service to meet that need,” says Jennie Bledsoe, Global Director of Internal Communications at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. “They may share an update via email or a team site, conduct a brainstorming session in a Skype Meeting, or engage in a broader discussion on Yammer.”

Greater level of connection

Since adopting Office 365, Goodyear has noticed that associates work more effectively with their colleagues across the globe. “I spoke recently with an engineer who told me that he’s talking more and emailing less since we made the transition to Office 365,” says Neubert. “He uses presence  information to see who’s available around the world, and when he sees that a colleague is online, it takes him two clicks to initiate a Skype for Business call. Those real-time conversations help build the relationships and trust needed to sustain global virtual teams.”

One of the most significant Office 365 developments for the company has been its grassroots adoption of Yammer, which Goodyear uses to share news and give a boost to its existing communications channels. “We see Yammer as tailor-made for connecting associates in different regions at different levels of the organization,” says Bledsoe. “We’ve always encouraged associates to share best practices, but Yammer is really the first mechanism that makes it almost effortless. Associates don’t have to go through special systems and processes—they can simply put their questions out there and let the right internal expert answer them.”

Mobile productivity

Whether Goodyear associates are traveling for business or meeting with customers, they must be able to stay connected. With Office 365, they can use any device they want to access their files and collaborate with colleagues from anywhere. The company has augmented its network drives, which require a virtual private network for remote access, with Microsoft OneDrive for Business cloud-based document storage. “OneDrive for Business has been a game changer for us,” says Neubert. “Associates tell us how much they like being able to access their documents from their phones and from home.”

In addition, Goodyear associates appreciate having flexible mobile access to each other through Skype for Business Online. “The ability to connect so easily from a hotel room or a cab has been one of the most significant changes for us,” says Neubert. “Using Skype Meetings and shared screens, geographically dispersed teams can look at information at the same time and talk about it without all the steps involved before.”

Enhanced efficiency

The company’s associates are streamlining a variety of processes thanks to Office 365 services. “It’s not a revolution, but all the incremental improvements we’re making add up to saved time and greater efficiency,” says Neubert. “We’re helping associates solve problems more quickly than in the past.”

Goodyear also becomes more efficient as associates extend their knowledge across the company. “Through Office 365, our associates’ personal networks have expanded,” says Neubert. “Not only do they know more colleagues who can weigh in via instant message or join an impromptu meeting, but they can also see who’s available around the world to work together to develop new products and services.”

The company expects to increase the impact of Office 365 even further as it continues to adopt new services, such as Microsoft Office Delve and Microsoft Sway. “I installed Delve on my iPhone, and it searches everything I have access to—whether it’s my Outlook inbox or a OneDrive for Business folder that someone shared with me,” says Neubert. “I absolutely save time by searching in one place, instead of multiple locations.”

Adds Bledsoe, “We’re excited about using Sway to augment our existing communications and make even more people want to click through and read them.”

Support for innovation

With the move to Office 365, Goodyear gained even greater support for its ongoing push to innovate companywide. “We’re experiencing a more open exchange of ideas,” says Neubert. “Services like SharePoint Online and Yammer help us transform who’s having the conversation and how they choose to connect with each other and with leaders, all of which feeds the innovation process and fosters organizational intelligence.”

All these efforts are helping Goodyear bring new ideas to market more quickly, which is particularly important in its competitive industry. “The frequency and breadth of our collaboration have improved, along with diversity of thought and of the population that associates can access,” says Neubert. “Our heightened level of connection through Office 365 helps speed the exchange of ideas—that’s enabling the development of new products and services for our customers and consumers.”

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