Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is John Paul Besong, SVP & CIO at Rockwell Collins, a Fortune 500 manufacturer of communication, aviation electronic, and information management systems, services and solutions.
In 1933, Rockwell Collins — then less than a year old and known as Collins Radio — supplied the equipment to establish a communications link with the South Pole expedition of Rear Admiral Richard Byrd. It was an exhilarating start to what would, over the next 80 years, include a number of industry milestones, including providing communications for the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury programs, pioneering GPS navigation, and more recently, developing the industry’s only aviation head-up synthetic vision system.
Today, we’re one of the world’s leading aerospace and defence companies. Our team of about 20,000 employees builds systems to ensure pilots around the world arrive and land safely. Our aviation electronics are installed in the cockpits or cabins of nearly every commercial air transport aircraft in the world. And our communication systems transmit about 70 percent of U.S. and allied military airborne communications.
Because we operate in an industry that places a premium on safety and serve clients that prioritize security, our technology — and our IT environment — has to be safe, trustworthy and reliable. Recently, I realized these priorities, along with our risk averse culture, had left us with IT tools that kept our operations secure and consistent but left our employees and our IT team frustrated.
The problems were widespread. With our legacy mail system, less than 10 percent of our employees — those with company Blackberries — could check their email and calendar on the go. A majority of our engineers expressed dissatisfaction with our development tools. And we were having trouble attracting young new talent. After digging deeper, I sent out a company-wide survey, and the message came through loud and clear: our employees wanted a faster, more flexible platform that was safe and let them access their info and collaborate on the go and from multiple devices.
We looked at a number of options, and after an extended evaluation process, decided that Google Apps for Business was the best solution for both protecting sensitive company information and giving our employees the consumer-friendly collaboration tools they were asking for. With the help of Maven Wave, our Google Apps implementation partner, we made the move successfully and completed our official go-live just a few weeks ago.
Google Apps is moving us into the next era of user-centric computing by allowing our employees to use technology at work the same way they do at home. To start, we’ve replaced the legacy mail system with Google Apps for email, calendar, storage, documents and video chat, and all employees can access their Google Apps account on their own mobile devices — Android, iPhone, tablet, whatever they choose to use. We have also deployed a campus-wide employee wireless network so people don’t feel chained to their desks.
Our employees are now exploring and adopting all of the other collaborative features of Google Apps as well. Three weeks into our deployment, 12,500 employees are using Drive for secure file storage and document sharing, with more than 750,000 files uploaded to Drive. Nearly 20,000 Google Docs, Sheets and Slides have been created. And finally, approximately 10,000 files have already been shared on a read/write access basis, enabling employees to co-author and collaborate within a single document.
Rockwell Collins is a Fortune 500 company with employees located across the globe, and we need to leverage technology to collaborate better and to work more efficiently. Now that our employees can respond to each other almost instantly and work from virtually anywhere with Google Apps, I believe we’re paving the way for the next phase of Rockwell Collins’ journey.