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Old School Infrastructure to Digital Transformation!


Over the last couple of years, technological innovation has brought about a rapid change in the customer service landscape. This has forced many businesses to reassess the way they build engagement and offer solutions, because adapting to technological change means adapting to customers' evolving needs.

Firstly a very big thank you to Gillian Kidson - Head of IT at Coal Services for sharing her insights on how her team adapted from having old school infrastructure to becoming a digital business during COVID-19!

Gillian says' when COVID 19 hit Sydney, our response was critical for our business to continue operating. Being a business that provides multiple services to the mining industry including medical workers, emergency training as well as looking after our injured workers, we needed to ensure those services continued being provided during the COVID 19 Pandemic to keep our workers safe.

Our IT team like many others were unprepared for the rapid response that is required when a Pandemic strikes. We had been asked to prepare for a trial run of what our response would be in the coming weeks, but our trial run quickly became our reality.

Our technical team had spent the weekend expanding our RDS environment and were mid testing when the instruction came to get everyone home as quickly as we could. Load testing and system testing went out of the window as we moved quickly to gather end-user requirements and details of equipment that was needed to ensure a continuity of service to customers.

We currently, as a business, do not deliver our services digitally most of them are conducted Face-to-Face. We are predominantly an office-based business, with half of our workforce using desktops. As we are 18 months into delivering a 3-year strategy we did not have all the required systems and tools in place when this pandemic struck. We certainly didn’t have the telephony and online video capability required to deliver digital services.

Over the first 24 hours my team implemented remote access for non-corporate machines and wrote and distributed instructions to all staff. They gathered information on who needed to take company owned equipment home from monitors to desktops to chairs and ensured they had assistance in dismantling and packing up what was required to be taken home. Within 36 hours they had the first 100+ staff working from home and were providing them with remote assistance to reconnect equipment and login remotely.

Over the following 4 days they helped the next 100+ staff to move themselves and equipment home, whilst also assisting in setting up scanning and document management to remove the need to take home paper files. By the end of week 2 we had all staff except some medical and some rescue staff working from home.

Now we needed to fast track the implementation of the new Online Training and Management application alongside the procurement and implementation of the telephony and video functionality. We had a 3-week window to complete the implementations and train staff to use them and deliver our services online.

At the height of the COVID Pandemic we were able to deliver our scheduled training and conduct Tele-med appointments online. We were only able to achieve this because our IT team were committed to ensuring the business had what it needed. Having a very good understanding of the business did help, however they were able achieve the unexpected because they communicated well with each other (from management down and back up) and worked together as a team!

According to Gillian now is the time to be looking at what is failing and prepare for the next major disruption. This pandemic has changed the world forever and much of the business world response will be to investigate digital options for making businesses more resilient and able to meet customers expectations.