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Report from Down Under: Woolworths goes Google

Posted by Dan Beecham, CIO at Woolworths Limited

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Dan Beecham, CIO at Woolworths Limited. Woolworths is an Australian company that was founded in 1924 in Sydney. Today Woolworths has more than 3,000 stores across Australia and New Zealand that span food, liquor, petrol, general merchandise, home improvement and hotels.

As one of Australia and New Zealand’s most innovative retailers, we’re always looking for ways we can use technology to give our customers more convenient ways to shop — whether that’s in store, from the comfort of their computer at home, or on the move via our smartphone apps.

This innovative approach does not stop with our customers. As Australia’s largest retailer with more than 3,000 stores across Australia and New Zealand, our staff of 200,000 need intuitive technology that enables them to work more efficiently, collaboratively and effectively. To do this, they need to be able to access the right applications and information, from any location, using any device.

This is why we’ve decided to move to Google Apps and Chrome. Changing to a cloud based suite of tools is a key part of our strategy to use technology to promote greater collaboration, productivity and effectiveness. Over the next 12 months we will be rolling out Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk to the 26,000 staff in our national and state offices. This is the first phase of what we hope will be a company-wide transformation of our workplace technology.

We are also actively looking at how we can innovate with Google+, Google Drive and Google Sites to transform the way we approach other aspects of our business.

The move to Google Apps and Chrome builds on the successful roll out of Gmail and our ‘Tap to Support’ App on iPads to Woolworths supermarket store managers last year. The custom-made application, built on Google App Engine, helps our managers stay on the shop floor and focused on customers by allowing them to log a support ticket with our national support office in just one click rather than being tied to a PC in the back office.

Soon more of our staff will be able to experience the productive and collaborative benefits of being able to work from any device, anywhere. Geographically dispersed teams, like our merchandising or state based workers, will be able to use Docs to collaborate in real-time.

Going Google will transform the way our employees interact with technology and collaborate with each other at every level of the organisation. We’re looking forward to providing our staff access to intuitive consumer technology at work and see the move to Google as the beginning of our journey towards a more efficient and innovative style of working.