Bosch’s “Next-Generation Workplace” project marks the next milestone on the road to becoming a globally connected, agile company. This project will equip the technology and service provider’s 240,000 office workplaces worldwide with the latest office applications. The aim is to bolster the agility of how associates work by introducing a standard suite of user-friendly office and communications software. Incorporating the way associates use social media in their personal lives, the project introduces new communications tools such as video telephony and online chat. Associates will be able to access these tools using various devices such as notebooks or smartphones in the future – whether they are in the office, traveling, or working from home. By the end of 2015, the new office software will have been rolled out at 100,000 workplaces. “We are optimizing working conditions for our associates by giving them a state-of-the-art IT environment to operate in. IT infrastructure is a major factor in the company’s agility,” says Dr. Stefan Asenkerschbaumer, deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management, who has responsibility for information systems. “Mobile computer workplaces with high levels of user-friendliness strengthen flexible, efficient collaboration and increase our competitiveness.” In total, the company is investing some 800 million euros in this initiative over the next few years.
Office software reflects associates’ requirements
According to Asenkerschbaumer, the success of the “Next-Generation Workplace” project depends on widespread acceptance of the new IT solutions and additional communications options. That is why Bosch involved its associates at a very early stage in the project, in order to find out what they wanted, needed, and expected their computer workplace to offer in the future. “I’m used to chatting electronically with friends and family and using various social media channels to communicate in my private life. Now when I’m collaborating with colleagues, communication is just as intuitive. That makes me more productive – and my work more fun,” says Ee Von Lim, an account manager for Bosch in Singapore. She has been taking part in a “Next-Generation Workplace” pilot project for the past several weeks.
Standard, easy-to-use graphical interface
“Our associates have to be able to work together easily from any of our locations worldwide – both in and out of the office,” says Dr. Elmar Pritsch, the head of IT at Bosch. “That’s why we’re using a seamlessly integrated environment for our office software.” In the future, associates will be able to use a single program on their notebooks or smartphones for phone calls, video conferences, and online chat. It will also take them just a few mouse clicks to create and manage documents and work on them collectively. In combination with its existing Bosch Connect social business platform, the company is expecting to further reduce the volume of e-mails and make it even easier for associates to communicate. The new software package includes not just Microsoft’s Office 2013 suite but also the SharePoint platform for collaboration on documents, the Skype for Business communications program, and the OneNote digital note-taking application. This program turns the computer into a kind of note pad, making it easy to create and manage notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio. The “Next-Generation Workplace” is a long-term project for Bosch that aims to make efficient mobile working even easier for associates in the future.