As the leading full-service telecommunications company in the Philippines, Globe plays a vital role in connecting a sprawling archipelago of over 7,600 islands and more than 100 million people. But building a successful enterprise is just part of the picture.
We knew that to bring digitalisation to the wider nation — one that is brimming with opportunity, yet also struggling with poverty and limited resources — we had to start from home and transform the company’s own digital culture before expanding this to the wider nation.
A fresh start for building a vibrant future
To start, we launched Globe’s new digital identity on a collaborative cloud platform. As an investment that would shape the workflows for thousands of employees, we wanted to make sure the platform we chose was the best fit.
We organised a competition between two leading cloud providers, who were invited to demonstrate features of their solution on five different floors in our old office. Our leadership team also included a site-creation challenge in which team members built 62 project sites on the competing solutions, working with features that required no prior IT background.
When put to a company vote, Google Workspace was the choice for more than 75 per cent of participants, with its primary factor being its powerful, easy-to-use cloud-based features.
Google Workspace was introduced to our workforce of 17,000 people in only four months, and we began with utilising messaging and communication platforms including Gmail, Hangouts, Meet, and Calendar, before moving to productivity and collaboration apps such as Drive, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Sites.
Accelerating business process automation with a no-code platform
We use a lot of manual processes to serve our customers, and are embracing digitalisation as a business to embed software within those processes, or use software to create end-to-end processes.
Globe’s adoption of AppSheet, an intelligent, no-code platform that enables teams and individuals to create workplace apps, helped accelerate the organisation’s digital transformation program.
In Q2 2020, an AppSheet ‘hackathon’ was held as part of our adoption strategy, and we invited all our employees to join and conducted workshops, and then we gave them eight weeks to complete their application on top of their usual workload.
AppSheet enables Globe employees to build and iterate apps and, best of all, since they are typically the end user of an app, they understand precisely what they need; there is no need to pass information from business analyst to project manager to developer.
The agility to create business process automation is the significant value we see for AppSheet. By enabling employees to build apps to automate internal processes without support from the business’s IT operation through AppSheet, we were able to centralise costs and implement internal automation processes that were not previously prioritised or accepted when business cases were submitted.
As Globe’s Chief Information Officer, Carlo Malana shares, “we’ve always been on the lookout for grassroots innovations among our employees at Globe, and this is something that we’re very keen on cultivating for our people. AppSheet gave us this flexibility — it is the perfect tool to mine these innovative minds, and allows us to quickly execute and transform how business is done and improve how we serve our customers.”
The success of the no code hackathon made a very good impact in showcasing our employees, the winners, and the applications they built using AppSheet. We believe we were able to get those early adopters to provide their insights and support for our program.
Post-hackathon, we also engaged Google Cloud to run an enterprise workshop to assist with the deployment of AppSheet. They also provided a success manager and account manager, and supplied AppSheet documentation and ongoing premium support, to assist with the training of hackathon participants in the transition to developing critical applications in AppSheet.
Since then, Globe has expanded the number of no-code apps developed using AppSheet from 59 created during the hackathon to 350. From the five-day enterprise workshop run with Google Cloud, we trained 450 employees, 180 of whom are now app creators.
The final objective of federation through AppSheet is to enable Globe’s workers to undertake their own business process automation. This means enabling citizen developers to use APIs and other tools to integrate with goal systems such as our customer relationship management systems. Eventually, we aim to integrate all our platforms and enable rapid prototyping through AppSheet.
Moving forward, we also hope to continue building skills internally through training and workshops delivered via Globe’s University campuses, and to collaborate with Google Cloud to enhance its capabilities in areas such as monitoring.
Adapting quickly during a pandemic
This forward thinking in employee training and empowerment proved to be especially helpful during the pandemic that prompted lockdowns in the Philippines. We needed to adapt quickly and at scale, with AppSheet helping the business make the necessary adjustments.
For instance, our store specialists had challenges managing customer visits during the pandemic. To overcome this, the team created an app to enable customers to reserve time slots to attend stores, enabling them to complete their visits quickly and efficiently.
Furthermore, Globe’s human resources team automated a process that enabled employees to claim internet, electricity and other resources required to work remotely during the pandemic.
Business process automation speeds up
Based on a review of 25 launched apps, Globe’s business process turnaround time has been reduced by 79.8 per cent since deploying AppSheet.
Prior to that, we had to create a business case to justify the development of each app and then prioritise the work. Going from prioritisation to production would take about three to six months, depending on the complexity of the app.
Now, a skilled citizen developer can deliver a complex app in two to four weeks and a more straightforward app in a week or two. There is less of a need for testing and less of a need to create documentation – we can shortcut directly from idea to development.
The no-code development platform allowed our citizen developers to utilise its machine learning capabilities to build richer, more intelligent apps; for example, a hackathon team used AI and machine learning features to deliver competitive customer experience speed test estimates using AppSheet’s predictive model. They can also use spreadsheets as a common, easy-to-use data source for apps.
Furthermore, with AppSheet’s seamless integration with Google Workspace, employees without coding backgrounds can also create AppSheet apps directly from Sheets, eliminating the need to search drives for the correct data sources.
Creative solutions in the cloud
These cloud tools are key to Globe’s ‘zero back office’ project. Our aim is to eliminate all internal paper communications, for everything from expense approvals to gym reservations.
At the same time, these allowed us to strengthen our security policies, adopting single sign-on and multi-factor authentication, mobile device management, content compliance, and other features, while also storing all employee data in a secure cloud environment.
Furthermore, as Globe moves away from slide-based presentations for monthly and quarterly reports to dashboards that provide near real-time information and a single source of truth, we use other Google Cloud features to unlock the power of data through visualisation, insights, and storytelling.
We have a dedicated team using Google Cloud BigQuery for data analysis to support its enterprise office group and marketing services hub, while Google Data Studio enables employees and groups to track performance for everything from completion of mandatory tasks to organisational KPIs.
Our close partnership with Google Workspace and Google Cloud enables our team to strive towards making Globe’s vision a reality.
This article was co-authored by Francis Pugeda, Head of Emerging Technologies & Red Jaques Bernaldez, Workplace Technology Portfolio Head, Globe Telecom.
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