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Syngenta Specialty Crops increases reach and impact of global event with BT One Collaborate managed services platform
How do you turn a problem into an opportunity? When looking for innovative ways to increase the reach and impact of an annual global event, while reducing travel costs, Andres Bulto talked to BT. The solution offered was a historic first for Syngenta: a worldwide virtual event using all elements of the BT One Collaborate managed services platform.
Extending the programme’s reach to the planet’s four corners, participation was increased almost 10-fold, without a single person climbing on board an aeroplane. Syngenta senior management, many of whom took part, have seen first-hand the motivating benefits. For Andres and his team it’s become business as usual.
We’re opening powerful communication channels between Syngenta people on all sides of the world to build better relationships and learn from each other about what works.”
- Andres Bulto, Strategy and Planning Manager Syngenta Specialty Crops
Syngenta is one of the world’s leading companies with more than 28,000 employees in some 90 countries dedicated to one purpose: bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to its customers, it helps increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life.
Historically, Syngenta used a mixture of technologies to interconnect its global operations. Costly to maintain, the infrastructure lacked the flexibility Syngenta needed to leverage scale and optimise sustainability.
Implementing a BT IP Connect global network, linking more than 90 countries, addressed these issues. With the global platform in place, Syngenta was able to enable better global collaboration among its employees, particularly those in emerging markets.
Based on this success, Syngenta has now deployed BT One Collaborate managed services – a unified communication platform that includes BT hosted MeetMe audio conferencing, BT hosted WebEx web conferencing, as well as eighteen BT Cisco TelePresence suites in seven countries.
In 2011, the Specialty Crops team initiated an annual event called Fusion aimed at bringing the global team together. The earlier Fusion 1.0 and Fusion 2.0 events were face-to-face meetings that involved flying selected employees to Basel, Switzerland, where Syngenta’s global headquarters is located. This was costly, limiting the size of the event to no more than 30 people. It also impacted the work life balance of employees who travelled to Fusion.
“Fusion events are of crucial importance to the Specialty Crops team,” explains Andres Bulto, Strategy and Planning Manager at Syngenta Specialty Crops. “It’s vital to align our activities and share best practices to accelerate the implementation of our strategy.”
Fusion 3.0 was planned for October 2013. Designed to accelerate business strategy by unveiling a new transformation programme, Fusion 3.0 was seen as an opportunity to bring together the worldwide Syngenta Specialty Crops community. However, with restrictions on travel, and end-of-year targets to achieve, finding a solution seemed challenging.
“What started as a basic money-saving discussion quickly turned into a search for innovative ways to increase our reach and our impact,” says Andres.
While video conferencing initially seemed an obvious solution to reach the majority of employees, it would fail to connect regions with poor infrastructure and countries with largely mobile staff and little in the way of established offices. “We invited consultants from BT to join the debate,” says Iva Meury, Administrative Assistant in the Specialty Crops global team. “They listened carefully and developed a customised multimedia solution based around BT Cisco TelePresence.”
Fusion 3.0 was the first global event, in Syngenta’s history, that used all elements of the BT One Collaborate managed services platform. Involving many more than 200 people from all eighteen Syngenta territories, the launch was held over four consecutive days as a worldwide TelePresence conference. Syngenta people furthest west were in Minnetonka, Iowa, where the daily two-hour conference sessions started at 6.00 a.m., while in the east Syngenta people in Sydney, Australia, tuned in at 10.00 p.m.
As well as direct TelePresence participants, those unable to access video conferencing were able to dial into a BT MeetMe audio conference to hear the dialogue, and connect over the internet to a WebEx conference to see speakers, charts and slides. Integrated into the TelePresence platform using BT bridging technology, the experience was no less information-rich than for those in the TelePresence suites.
A unique example of global collaboration, Fusion 3.0 was a resounding success. The interactive nature of the event meant participants were able to receive messages first hand, and question the presenters in real time in a virtual environment to cement their understanding. “The quality and precision of the communication was outstanding,” says Iva. “In particular the HD sound in the TelePresence suites was amazing; just as if the people were sitting there in the same room.”
In places where the company has high concentrations of staff but doesn’t have video conferencing facilities (at least, not yet) BT offered the use of its own local TelePresence suites to Syngenta. This gesture contributed considerably to the event’s business value.
Feedback from those involved confirmed that 98 per cent of participants viewed the event as good or very good. Typical of verbatim comments in the feedback report was this from a participant in the USA: “We must use this technology more frequently. It really improves the interaction experience in meetings.”
Of the benefits, 99 per cent referred to the advantage of collectively hearing from different voices in the Specialty Crops community, while 95 per cent expressed their satisfaction with the TelePresence experience and 93 per cent found it very easy to join the virtual session.
The Specialty Crops management team was highly complimentary about the support provided by BT prior to, and during, the event. Iva recalls: “The BT team took care of all technical and procedural issues and was always there to answer our queries; for example, guidance on best practice in managing Q&A sessions.”
By using BT One Collaborate managed services, Fusion 3.0 was innovative, interactive, cost effective and collaborative. Says Andres Bulto: “This fantastic technology brings people together and makes them feel part of a global team.”
Looking to the future, Syngenta Specialty Crops plans to continue with its annual Fusion events, supported by the BT technology platform. “We will continue to explore new ways of connecting with our crop teams all over the world,” says Mark Bidwell, Head of Syngenta Specialty Crops. “Our crops are grown in well over 100 countries and using technology to strengthen our business networks is a real source of competitive advantage to us and our customers.”
Iva sums up: “The event was a wonderful experience and we’ve had great feedback. It’s been incredibly motivating for everyone.”
Most recently BT has been awarded a seven-year extension to its network services contract with Syngenta. The new contract reaffirms the Syngenta commitment to using managed BT services around the world to achieve its ambitious business growth plans, while containing its costs.
Delivering integrated communication services to more than 28,000 Syngenta staff in 90 countries, BT helps Syngenta employees, partners and customers better communicate and collaborate. As well as the BT IP Connect global network over which the BT One Collaborate technology runs, BT will provide other services under the new contract. These include BT Connect Optimisation WAN acceleration, BT Connect Intelligence for application performance monitoring, BT One Enterprise managed fixed and wireless LANs and IP telephony, and BT One Voice for off-net international voice traffic.
Martin Walker, Head of Syngenta Business Services at Syngenta, concludes: “Few companies can offer such world-class, global, innovative and sustainable solutions to help us achieve our ambitious objectives and we’re pleased to continue our partnership with BT. The continued use of new technology is helping us increase productivity by making our employees more connected.”
- BT IP Connect global
- BT Connect Optimisation
- BT Connect Intelligence
- BT One Collaborate managed Cisco TelePresence
- BT One Collaborate managed WebEx
- BT One Collaborate managed MeetMe
- BT One Enterprise managed fixed and wireless LANs
- BT One Enterprise managed IP telephony
- BT One Voice