Blackmores is a proudly Australian natural health company – but our future is distinctly global. Today, we employ just over 1,000 people, with half of them based in Asia.
I joined the company in 2016 to develop a global IT strategy, establish information systems to support growth right around the world, and deliver continuous incremental improvements for the organisation and its employees.
One of the most important initiatives rolled out so far was deploying Office 365 right across Asia, creating one system, one cloud, one company.
We rolled the system out in just nine weeks, and now everyone has Skype for Business, access to One Drive and the functionality of Office 365. With all Blackmores employees now on one cloud platform, we’re seeing servicing benefits from within the IT function.
Our business is also experiencing the benefits of greater collaboration that Office 365 affords. Executives can communicate more freely across regions and have access to calendars and messaging options. It’s breaking down technical barriers and freeing everyone to just get on with the business of doing business, which at Blackmores is about supporting people to improve their health and wellbeing, naturally.
Office 365 has also positioned the company for flexible working, and potentially for activity‑based working in the future. As we remove technology barriers across the business, people won’t be tied to their desks. Instead, IT will enable more productive ways of working and support anywhere, anytime communications and collaboration.
The next big project is to transition our JD Edwards ERP system across to Azure. We are undertaking a proof of concept and to date we are seeing very positive results. The vision is to move around 90 per cent of all our workloads to Azure over time.
We’ve also been an early adopter of Microsoft Teams in the IT department. We’ve always had SharePoint, which lets us share access to documents and reports, but the really tight integration of Teams with Office 365, along with persistent chat, means that everyone is always on the same page and can access the same information in the Teams workspace – you never have to go looking for a particular artefact. It’s just an easy way to bring people and content together in a coherent digital workspace.
Microsoft Teams really helps because we are running several projects at the same time and it creates logical workspaces for each one. Right now, we’re running most of the projects out of Australia, but as we bring people into those groups from Asia, we will become more distributed – and that’s where Teams will really be able to stretch its legs.
We already believe that we can do a lot more, more quickly and more effectively with these tools. We’re also modelling what Teams can do for the broader Blackmores business.
So, Teams is in IT today, but as we work with the wider business on projects, more employees will see what we are using and understand that it’s a tool they could use too. We’re refreshing SharePoint at the moment and, along with Teams, will expand its use in Blackmores.
Blackmores has evolved rapidly over the past few years and we’ve had to adapt our IT systems to keep up with the current size and growth of the business. We’re more focused than ever on supporting the whole business in a consistent and timely manner. Getting Asia on the same platform has delivered a huge win. It’s built momentum for change and credibility about what can be achieved with the right team, the right platform and the right strategy.