Details of the Google Apps Plan
Whirlpool has some 68,000 global employees and 66 different centers dedicated to research in manufacturing and technology located all over the world. Not only does Whirlpool market its own brand, but the company also markets the Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, Jenn-Air, and Consul brands, in addition to other major brand names in home appliances. According to Heim, Whirlpool products are "very different globally", accommodating the needs that are important in diverse regional markets.
Over 2014, Whirlpool moved some 30,000 of its employees around the globe to the Google Apps suite. The company uses applications including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive to handle company operations. The IBM Lotus Notes email and collaboration system that had previously been in use by the company was used on-premises as opposed to being accessed via the cloud.
The switch over to Google for manufacturing apps involved signing a five-year contract with Google. Although financial details of the deal were not given out in interviews with Heim, Google was charging $50 per user to companies using Google Apps for work at the time of the switch. That calculates out to an investment of $7.5 million for Whirlpool over the full duration of the contract.
Reasons for the Switch to Google for Work
Whirpool had originally been using IBM Notes for many functions that it now relegates to Google Apps. While IBM Notes allowed Whirlpool employees to send out meeting invitations via email, Google Apps has capabilities that can notify individuals company-wide of an upcoming event automatically, without the need for sending out individual messages. Heim noted in interviews that the old application could not so easily accommodate the spontaneous meetings that are typical at Whirlpool when a new idea comes to light.
The consumer focus of Google Apps for Work was cited as another reason for the change. Heim explained that the real-time nature of cloud-based applications drives "consumer-based innovation pressure". As many companies are already using Google for advertising via search result pages (SERPS) and paid adwords advertising, using Google Apps is a logical step in optimizing company operations.
A third reason Heim cites is one of the most commonly recognized advantages of Google for Work Apps. Heim is quotes as saying, "We bought into the Google notion to work the way you live." to explain that employees are already using many Google applications in their personal lives. Switching over to Google for Work Apps could minimize training time and leave employees more comfortable at work when using online services with which they are very familiar.
Goals of the "Winning Workplace" Project
Whirlpool's shift to using Google for manufacturing is just one more sign that big business is migrating to the cloud. That an IT authority figure like Mike Heim would decide to move his company over to these cloud-based application shows that IT is clearly evolving in the direction of the cloud. Heim admitted that there would be some challenges the shift- such as optimizing and leveraging Google for manufacturing- but in the end he feels that the change will create a better work environment. The switch has been termed the "Winning Workplace" project at Whirlpool, clearly showing all the optimism the company feels with the newfound capabilities of Google's platform.