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How 'survivor' Ciena is using video to change its culture

George Nott | Sept. 22, 2017
A roll-out of video conferencing tools has been transformational says CIO Craig Williams.

That work has begun with a focus on collaboration tools, in particular video communication.

While there was initially some work required to "clean up the network" and roll out Zoom (selected after a number of user feedback studies), the tough part, Williams says, was getting people to use it.

"I remember several conversations with people where, you know, it was challenging: 'hey just turn on your video, we're going to have a chat'. And I used to say if we were physically in a room we wouldn't close our eyes and chat, so let's kind of get over the fact that we shouldn't just flip on the video," Williams says.

The IT team pushed out a number of announcements and hosted webinars following the roll-out, appointing the executive team to be early-adopters and champion its use.

They also published user stats to drive "healthy competition".

"It just took off from that point," Williams says.


We're all human

The adoption of video conferencing among Ciena's 6,000 employees worldwide - included those at its Australian headquarters in Macquarie Park - has been "staggering", Williams says. More than 85 per cent of employees are using the new tools, clocking up a combined 350,000 minutes each day.

The push towards face to face video conferencing has brought with it a change in culture, Williams says.

"I don't care if your dog is in the background, I don't care if your kid runs screaming by, you know what, we're are human beings, we all have our own ways of where we have to work, when we have to work. Some of that drama got let go when some of us would literally just take a call in the car parking lot or at home and the spouse would pass by or something like that. It just got to be less of a dramatic event," he explains.

Although the business benefits are somewhat intangible and difficult to measure - although the effect on travel costs is being looked at - staff feedback has been hugely positive. The CEO and his direct reports use video conferencing daily.

I don't care if your dog is in the background, I don't care if your kid runs screaming by

The success of the roll-out has also given the IT team the kudos and goodwill for the next stage of their collaboration tool effort, rolling out Office 365 globally.   

"Now that we've gotten some of the attention this will be a little easier," Williams adds.

The support strategy is also changing to a modern, self-help style.

"You don't have to open a ticket all the time or track it or wonder if someone will get back to you," Williams says. "The employees just want to get back to work, they don't want to have to deal with IT. So let's figure out ways of getting out of the middle and making that experience better."


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