- September 25, 2020
WBM Technologies & Microsoft Ignite
Virtual Connection Event
SASKATOON, SK – September 25, 2020 – Between September 22, 2020 and September 24, 2020, WBM Technologies hosted our inaugural Virtual Connection Series event to coincide with the Microsoft Ignite online global conference. Key clients, prospects and WBM leaders met virtually to watch a relevant Microsoft Ignite session, followed by a live customer presentation and Q&A.
The Virtual Connection event marked an unfortunate but necessary departure from the in-person community events we have been hosting for more than a decade.
Our last event Connection 20/20 – The Data Driven Experience was held on January 31st, 2020 and brought together 664 business and government leaders, IT professionals, students, educators, and athletes to explore the power of data. This single-day event was held in Saskatoon, and unbeknownst to all participants at the time, was our final in-person community event before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shifting to a virtual event modeled on past WBM Connection Series luncheons, 3 customers were invited to highlight and present their success stories to 70 members of our client community.
M365 Adoption & Transformation with Cameco
With 2500 end-users, Cameco worked with WBM to develop a long-term plan to migrate from an on-premises solution to being fully in the cloud. A focus on end-user adoption was a significant aspect of Cameco’s implementation success.
Scott Gillespie, Manager of Business and Technology Services at Cameco, highlighted the power of having live WBM resources available every day in Microsoft Teams to provide Cameco staff with immediate support, and workshops hosted by WBM to continue expanding staff knowledge and adoption, “it really is, in my opinion, the most interesting piece of everything we’ve done so far. They’ve got a deep pool of expertise, and the team is really, really awesome in terms of understanding Microsoft 365 – inside and out.”
In the summer of 2020, Cameco launched an app called the Cameco Power Bar which provides one-click access for all Cameco employees to receive immediate live support and scheduled training sessions from WBM’s Microsoft 365 experts. This feature was implemented to assist with end-user education, adoption, and support. Building on the success of Cameco’s Power Bar, WBM utilized Microsoft Power Apps to further simplify the end user experience, creating a navigation button right within Microsoft Teams. This innovation empowers Cameco employees with easy access to all benefits of the Cameco Power Bar, without ever leaving Teams.
“There is power in ongoing adoption and training, which is what Cameco is super-focused on right now. It’s important to understand that this is the functionality today, but there will be a whole new way of using the same product set in six months or a year. No one will know about it unless someone is there to help educate them. These new tools and technology are great, but they are useless if people don’t use them or understand how to use them,” says Ryan Jeffrey, Director of Strategic Account Management at WBM.
Scott and Ryan discussed these successes and some of the challenges that Cameco encountered while implementing and adopting Microsoft 365. Together, they answered questions from our client community, generating excitement and helping to alleviate concerns with making a disruptive transformation using Microsoft 365 technology.
Productivity and Remote Work Culture with Saskatchewan Blue Cross
Before COVID-19, the team at Saskatchewan Blue Cross (SBC) was planning a small work-from-home project. When the pandemic hit, they ended up sending 175 people home in one day, and eventually, the entire staff was working from home offices. Having successfully implemented Microsoft 365 before the outbreak of COVID-19, the transition was nearly seamless. “We had almost zero disruption besides the one day with people coming to pick up their equipment. We didn’t have to worry so much about the technology. We knew everybody had all their Brainstorm training in Teams. We were confident that we would still be able to hold our meetings and those in-person collaborations virtually. We were pretty confident in the technology for sure,” explains Jemal Kobussen, VP of Technology and Digital Transformation at SBC.
Jemal was featured on the main stage at WBM’s Connection event in January 2020, sharing SBC’s success in utilizing a team of internal champions and on-demand Brainstorm training to drive the adoption of Microsoft 365. The company saw incredible gains in productivity, and they were ready to pivot to a virtual work environment quickly. For a more in-depth look at this program and the results, read the SBC case study here.
In addition to virtual collaboration in Teams, all areas within SBC utilize Yammer to maintain connection with each other and to foster a great corporate culture while working at home. When asked by other members of our client community how to tackle such a massive technological shift, Kendell Friesen, Cloud Analyst at SBC, recommended, “Do something and have an organized plan. If you can’t do it, engage WBM because I don’t think this stuff would’ve happened without WBM at Blue Cross. I wouldn’t have implemented Yammer, and I think that was a great decision.”
Managing End-User Computing Lifecycles with Pembina Pipeline
Marcelo Zaquia, Senior Manager of IS Infrastructure & New Ventures at Pembina, and Gerry Samuelson, Supervisor of IT Service Desk at Pembina, joined Audra MacIntyre, Service Delivery Manager at WBM, and Brett Bailey, Vice President of WBM, to discuss the importance of modernizing device lifecycle management. Marcelo spoke about Pembina’s previous lifecycle management strategy, “Back then, probably over 80% of our fleet were desktops. Quite a few of them were super old. There is no lifecycle management; they’re seven, eight, nine years old. Our strategy back then was we will replace it when it dies.” Today, Pembina has re-vamped their strategy, including the adoption of Microsoft Surface devices as the preferred standard.
With the pandemic-driven shift to work from home, many companies experienced difficulty acquiring enough devices to enable their workforce. Laptops, tablets, and remote meeting accessories were suddenly in very high demand. Before COVID-19 hit, Pembina planned to roll out 250 mobile devices to 20 of their locations. Instead, they had to pivot quickly to order, pre-image, and ship the devices to 250 home addresses. The WBM procurement team was able to make this happen ahead of schedule, securing the devices in Canada and the US amidst significant supply chain constraints fueled by intel shortages and demand caused by COVID-19.
“Going into this year, in March, when everything started shutting down, we were certainly thankful that we were ready, and we didn’t have to scramble for devices,” explains Gerry.
Gerry and Marcelo answered questions around device cost for the client community during the Q&A, explaining how they justified the move to a premium device in Microsoft Surface over a traditional budget laptop. “We look at the oil and gas space, the [burden rate], the cost of your employee per hour is about $150/hour. If I translate that into the struggles they would have with a device or joining a meeting, with anything we do, a few hours a year justifies that extra (money),” clarified Marcelo.
“With the Microsoft Surface, there are a lot of opportunities to increase productivity for the end-users,” says Paul Cluett, Director of IT Solutions for WBM. “For Pembina, we wanted to work together to utilize the features of the Surface to drive productivity. Our new program, Deployment in a Box, offers a zero-touch deployment experience paired with training on the Surface platform’s key features and elements. It’s part of a strategy to increase employee satisfaction and productivity at Pembina,” says Paul, “we started following up deployments with detailed sessions, webinars, and group training where Pembina employees could spend time with a WBM expert diving deeper into features such as the Surface pen and OneNote.”
WBM is enthusiastic to be offering Deployment in a Box for Microsoft Surface products. “It’s all about the excitement of unboxing new technology,” says Jaime MacKenzie, Manager of End-User Computing Strategy at WBM, “and with everyone remote right now, we needed to find a way to ensure effective zero-touch deployments. With Deployment in a Box, the device ships directly to the end-user with a personalized letter from their company, step-by-step instructions for the hardware setup, productivity training, and fun company-branded swag items. It’s all about elevating the experience of receiving a device and the thrill that comes with unboxing something shiny and new – while making sure the device’s setup and employee training are painless, so productivity doesn’t suffer.”
Supporting these observations, Brett Bailey notes, “There’s a key focus now around the end-user devices. There might have been a time when price and performance were vital. ‘There’s a commodity element to this, and we need to preserve cost.’ Now a majority of us are saying; you know what? Deployment and management will be essential, and the ability to collaborate effectively is critical.”
Other Highlights from the WBM Technologies Virtual Event Include:
- Many companies are facing the same challenge of getting employees to make the change from “the old way of doing things” to embrace modernization with new technologies and processes
- Leveraging technology has allowed businesses to tangibly streamline work and increase collaboration, even in work from home environments
- 59% of customers at the event identified deployment & management as the most beneficial areas of development for end user devices
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to embrace technology in ways they did not foresee, and in some companies, it has permanently changed operations. With the success of these intimate events designed to share knowledge and promote peer connections in these difficult times, WBM is looking forward to hosting more virtual events in the future. Energized by the insights, innovation, and value generated when people share experiences, members of WBM’s client community are accelerating their achievements, despite the current need to physically distance.