Preserving deep industry expertise with a social approach to knowledge management from IBM

Bucher Emhart Glass implemented a social approach to knowledge management based on IBM® Connections™—enabling experienced employees to share best practices via forums, blogs, wikis and more.

About the client’s company

The world’s leading supplier of equipment, controls and parts to the glass container industry, Bucher Emhart Glass has been at the forefront of innovation in glass manufacturing for more than a century. Headquartered in Steinhausen, Switzerland, the company employs more than 1,800 people worldwide, and equips production lines responsible for almost 40 percent of the world’s total glass bottle output.

Supporting long product lifecycles

For manufacturers of products with long service lives, effective product lifecycle management is an essential capability. With a parts portfolio of more than 150,000 components for products introduced as far back as the 1950s, Bucher Emhart Glass wanted to continue to support customers around the world effectively for years to come.

Dominik Durrer, Global IT Manager at Bucher Emhart Glass, takes up the story: “In the last 10 years, Bucher Emhart Glass has gone through significant changes. In addition to our recent growth into markets in China, we are continuously attracting an influx of new employees who are mostly replacing retiring employees who have been with the company for a long time.”

He continues: “Before, we relied on email, phone calls and shared drives to capture and distribute information internally. However, because we lacked a standardized approach to knowledge management, it was extremely difficult to document and share information on key business processes. We have talented employees all over the world, and we knew we would be missing an opportunity if we did not provide them with the means to connect, communicate and share the expertise they had accumulated over their many years with the company.”

Previously, Bucher Emhart Glass relied on IBM Notes® and IBM Domino® solutions to support effective communication across its global business, and IBM WebSphere® Portal to help its employees search its systems of record for information on invoices and purchase orders.

“We are extremely satisfied with our IBM solutions, and based on our positive experiences with IBM we looked for a way to augment our existing environment with new capabilities,” says Dominik Durrer. The aim was to create a business social network that would enable every member of the business to share and access the information they needed from a single point.”

To solve the challenge, Bucher Emhart Glass decided to migrate to a new collaboration platform based on IBM Connections—providing employees with a single, centralized location to share knowledge through forums, blogs, wikis, and more.

“One of the capabilities of IBM Connections that impressed us most was the ability to create an employee directory,” recalls Dominik Durrer. “We employ more than 850 people at 15 sites in different countries, and not all of our people meet their colleagues in person on a regular basis. In addition to helping people put a face to a phone number, the IBM solution enables employees to tag their skills on the directory—making it easier for new members of the team to find the resources they need to serve our customers effectively.

“Moreover, the browser-based interface and mobile app mean that IBM Connections easily accessible on whichever digital platform our employees are using."

To help it migrate to IBM Connections and integrate the solution with its back-end systems, Bucher Emhart Glass engaged Premier IBM Business Partners WebGate Consulting and Clavis IT.

WebGate Consulting has supported our IBM Domino environment superbly for many years, and the team was perfectly positioned to help us migrate to IBM Connections. Given their experience with similar situations at other companies, WebGate was also able to provide excellent training and advice on best practices.

Dominik Durrer - Global IT Manager at Bucher Emhart Glass

“Clavis IT has been our integration partner for a long time, and in particular has been helping us develop our IBM WebSphere Portal solution. As a result, Clavis IT was a natural choice when it came to integrating IBM Connections and WebSphere Portal. By looking both at the technical solutions and our use cases, Clavis IT is delivering excellent value to the business.”

Today, members of the IT, aftersales and project management teams at Bucher Emhart Glass are using IBM Connections to share their knowledge, and the company plans to offer the platform to its logistics, manufacturing, and research and development teams.

“In the past, we were forced to email almost everyone in the business when we updated one of our policy documents—even though we knew that the information would not be relevant to many of the recipients,” says Dominik Durrer.

“Today, we can share documents as links in IBM Connections, which reduces our reliance on email and local file servers to distribute information. By transitioning from a ‘push’ to a ‘pull’ approach to information sharing, we can deliver information based on our employees’ roles and communications preferences. And because our information is now stored in a central location, maintaining robust version control is simple.”

Wherever they are in the world, IBM Connections now provides Bucher Emhart Glass employees with the tools to share expertise efficiently and effectively.

“IBM Connections forums are a great place for our employees to ask and answer questions about our business processes, and when a question has been answered once, the information is there permanently for anyone else who needs it in the future,” says Dominik Durrer. “Similarly, our top talent can record their knowledge in IBM Connections wikis, ensuring their expertise is not lost when they retire, and providing valuable resources for training new employees joining the business.”

Bucher Emhart Glass uses IBM Connections to create workflows for key processes, helping to establish and maintain best practices and deliver consistent, high-quality product support services.

Dominik Durrer explains: “Some of our products have long lifecycles, and it’s common for customers to request parts that have not been sold for many years. In the past, looking up the part and looking up the correct price involved numerous back-and-forth emails to identify the correct supplier and calculate the fee. Thanks to IBM Connections, we offer our employees an automated workflow that guides them through the process from end to end—helping us to deliver quotes to our customers faster.”

Based on the initial success of its migration to IBM Connections, Bucher Emhart Glass is in the process of implementing IBM FileNet® Content Manager as an enterprise document management platform.

“We see that IBM offers all the capabilities we need to achieve our knowledge-sharing vision,” comments Dominik Durrer. “Ultimately, we plan to use IBM WebSphere Portal to seamlessly integrate our solutions for collaboration and document management with our systems of record. The aim is that every employee will log into a single IBM WebSphere Portal interface, and have all the information they need to perform their role effectively right at their fingertips.”

Looking to the future, Bucher Emhart Glass intends to migrate from its on-premises solution to IBM Connections Cloud, enabling it to minimize operational spend and focus on delivering new value-added services for the business.

Dominik Durrer concludes: “With IBM Social Business solutions supporting our global business, we are in an excellent position to continue delivering outstanding support for products with extensive lifecycles. Further ahead, we see that improved collaboration will drive our productivity—helping us to stay attuned to customer needs, shorten time to market for new products and strengthen our competitive advantage.”