||JR East Japan Management Service Co., Ltd. (JEMS)
- Reduce the heavy use of paper for conferences and meetings
- Fully utilize G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work)
- Devise a flexible way for affiliate organizations to accommodate employees in a variety of roles who need to work remotely
- Deploy Ericom AccessNow to enable use of Windows applications from Chromebooks and to more efficiently use G Suite
- Established a smart paperless conference style using shared Chromebooks
- Improved collaboration by promoting the use of G Suite within the organization
- Fostered IT use throughout the company, regardless of seniority or preferred work style
- Enabled employee productivity from any device and any location
JR East Japan Management Service Co., Ltd. (JEMS) is a consolidated subsidiary of the East Japan Railway Company (aka, the JR East Group) and handles the financial operations of the entire Group, comprising 69 companies in a variety of industries. Its mission is to provide financial services that improve resource management and efficiency throughout the organization.
In order to advance this mission, the JEMS Planning Department, proposed an initiative to make all company meetings paperless. In a typical meeting, 10 pages of printed materials were required, which had to be printed, collated and bound for each of the 20 participants. If these materials were later updated or replaced, all the sets needed to be reprinted, collated and bound from scratch. This amounted to a waste of time, not to mention paper. Furthermore, the heavy reliance on printed materials throughout the organization created difficulties for employees who needed to work from outside the office.
Waste of Paper. Waste of Resources.
Mr. Fumiaki Ando, Chief Corporate Planner at JEMS, stated that his team had originally assumed that iPads would form the basis of the paperless terminal. However, they also realized that the cloud-based groupware, Google Apps for Work (now G Suite), that had been introduced four years earlier as an internal standard was not yet being fully utilized. Using Chromebook solved two challenges: On one hand, distributing Chromebooks at conferences could enable the company to conduct paperless meetings. On the other hand, Chromebooks would also facilitate the use of services such as Google Drive for sharing and collaborating on important documents.
Furthermore, the company leveraged this momentum to change the way they worked with IT internally. Spurred by the high percentage of female employees (60 percent), many of whom typically take an extended leave of absence for maternity or childcare purposes and require occasional access to business resources, Mr. Ando determined to use this as a flagship use case and explore the ways in which technology could help improve overall business efficiency throughout the workforce, regardless of employee role, seniority or preferred work style.
Ericom AccessNow Wins with Windows and Collaboration
However, employees experienced some difficulty when working in G Suite with Microsoft Office files that incorporated advanced features such as macros, as well as heavily formatted Word documents. On several occasions, these files would crash while being converted to Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
To address this challenge, the company chose to leverage Ericom AccessNow, an application and desktop virtualization solution, to deliver Microsoft Office applications on Chromebooks. Ericom AccessNow enables employees to access their desktop PCs, view and edit Microsoft Office files, and use Windows native financial applications – all from within the Chromebook's Chrome browser. The company’s initial concerns over display performance and ease of use when working with files remotely were dispelled after witnessing Ericom AccessNow in action: Both Word and Excel provided the same user experience as they do when working on a local terminal.
Up and Running In Less Than a Month
Upon receiving the green light from the JEMS management team, IT staff immediately began installing Ericom's connection broker, which mediates between the Chromebook and Windows operating systems. JEMS IT staff were able to install Ericom’s solution on the same server being used to host their payroll system, further reducing implementation costs. Installation of the entire system was completed in less than a month.
Currently, there are 20 Chromebooks at the company’s headquarters and 10 at the group’s management business headquarters, all of which are used widely at conferences. The Chromebooks are managed using Google’s cloud-based Chrome management console, which is configured to operate only within the company's wireless LAN environment, and therefore cannot be used outside the company’s premises.
Major Changes in Just Five Months
Five months after deploying Ericom AccessNow throughout the organization, the company's meeting style has undergone a major change. Attendees upload the materials to Google Drive in advance and share them. If there is a need for Microsoft Office, employees can simply access their office desktop from the Chromebook, enabling them to conduct meetings without being hampered by platform-based limitations. Hiroki Iijima, head of JR East Japan Management Services Planning Department, commented that it takes virtually no time to prepare for meetings using this method.
The Chromebooks are also being utilized for other purposes. For example, at company briefing sessions held for new recruits, the company distributed Chromebooks to each attendee, shared presentation screens in Google Hangouts, and used Ericom AccessNow for training recruits in the use of financial applications. This was quite an achievement, as the company no longer needed to bring a PC to these sessions to conduct the training.
Starting with paperless meetings, the company has steadily made going paperless an organizational-wide pursuit. However, the greatest impact of introducing Chromebook and Ericom AccessNow has been the increased utilization of IT throughout the company. This was not something they had expected. The company’s planning department reported very positive responses from employees of all ages, who continue to enthusiastically propose new ways in which to leverage the technology. Going forward, JEMS hopes to expand the technology in other areas, dramatically changing how they work--but the foundation for Ericom AccessNow seems to be firmly established already.