Scaling a Global Communication Platform to Collaborate Better in Fighting Rare Diseases
Kedrion Biopharma is a global biopharmaceutical company specializing in plasma-derived therapies that help patients suffering from Hemophilia, Immune Deficiencies, and neurological disorders. Our headquarters are in Italy, but we also maintain a presence elsewhere in Europe, Latin America, Russia, India, and the United States.
We collect and fractionate plasma, which we use to produce, market, and distribute a range of medical treatments. Our research and development activities include clinical and post-clinical studies into new and existing therapies.
A Unified Approach to Global Communication and Collaboration
Kedrion operates several companies and subsidiaries internationally. Often, team members sharing a specialty or working on a project together have to collaborate across borders and continents. In the past, colleagues would travel to meet one another, but this was becoming increasingly inefficient and ineffective.
Among other things, the rising cost of air travel and increased awareness of its environmental impact forced us to reconsider the way we collaborate at the international level—but there were local issues, too. Most critically, we lacked the definition of a company standard for a cohesive framework able to foster teamwork and collaboration enterprise-wide.
As a result of our disjointed communication systems, collaboration among different teams was not optimized.
At the same time, our workplaces were evolving. Kedrion's people are no longer tied to their offices and their desks, and we needed a way to better communicate and collaborate with remote workers.
Focusing on Functionalities First
We cast a wide net in our search for an enterprise collaboration solution. We looked at the various players in the market with the view of finding a best-of-breed platform. We focused on functionalities and then chose an infrastructure that fit. We needed a solution that was easy to deploy across multiple international sites, and that integrated telephony, video and web conferencing, desktop computing, and mobile devices.
Our holy grail was a system that empowered employees to work from anywhere in the world, including our international offices, their homes, and even moving vehicles. We wanted them to log in, talk to one another, share files, and collaborate. People take calls while they're travelling, and others scribble world-changing ideas on napkins when they're in coffee shops—and we had to accommodate everyone.
Most importantly, we wanted to assign a single portable number to each of our "smart workers" (i.e. teleworkers) where they could be reached no matter where they were on our network or in the world.
Trial Instead of Error
We decided to evaluate the Cisco suite that includes IP Telephony (telephone devices and Jabber), conference systems(Webex Rooms), web conferencing tools (Webex), and web collaboration solutions (Teams).
These new tools had the potential to optimize the way we worked. So we decided to trial them at our Italian headquarters and quickly expanded our pilot to include Kedrion's American operations, so we could establish whether these Cisco products worked well across international distances.
Our first goal was to get everyone comfortable with the new IP telephony tools. Our second was to start phasing out former tools and to establish Webex as our new video conferencing and collaboration solution.
To this end, we launched a communication campaign and put together a short but informative handbook to train employees on the features of our new platform. We limited the initial trial to a small pool of users and expanded it after we'd received some feedback about everything that worked and everything that didn't.
We also extended our help desk service to assist users who were having difficulties with our new video conferencing systems. Luckily, we’ve rarely had to use this because of how easy it was to get up and running. We even published a global directory of meeting rooms equipped with Webex technology. So, for example, if a user in Italy wanted to set up a meeting with a colleague in New Jersey, they could dive into the directory and book conference rooms at either location ahead of time.
Real-Time Collaboration Is the Route to Innovation
We gave our employees everything they needed to succeed, and our investment in the Cisco solution paid off. In the last six months, Kedrion employees have logged over 2,000 hours of video conference time worldwide, in addition to time spent on PC web conferences. We've saved tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses, and we've sped up the collaborative process.
Today, everyone has instant access to their colleagues anywhere on the planet, and can collaborate on documents in real time, no matter where they are. With a reality like this, decisions are faster and things get done more quickly.
We are still in the process of expanding the solution to our entire organization. We've also started using video conferencing for training purposes. We can walk new employees through specific tasks, go through documents together, teach them how to log into our network, and train them on new software.
Next, we're looking at adding to our conference rooms. These digital whiteboards allow employees in the room—as well as remote users—to share documents from their laptops and tablets, and to brainstorm using pen-based tools. The possibilities are endless.
As we're completing our internal rollout, we've started using the Cisco platform to collaborate with external partners too, no matter where they are. Also in this case, we're having the same positive results.