Internal Code: IAH218
UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS AT BOEING
The Boeing Company (http://www.boeing.com/), headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, is the world’s largest manufacturer of military aircraft and commercial jetliners. Boeing has more than 159,000 employees working in 70 different countries who require effective communication to develop and build some of the world’s most complex products using components from more than 22,000 global suppliers.
The company’s workforce is one of the most highly educated in the world. Most employees hold a college degree and many hold advanced degrees. Collectively Boeing employees have very broad and deep knowledge that can be harnessed to solve problems and design next generation products.
Like many major corporations, Boeing has experienced an uptick in the number of employees who work remotely or travel the majority of each work week. Boeing’s engineers number in the thousands and are purposely scattered worldwide to support the company’s global operations. Boeing organizes its employees into work and project teams.
Given the company’s size and geographic footprint, many of Boeing work’s teams include globally dispersed members. Engineers on the same team may be separated by multiple time zones and thousands of miles. Time zone
differences and distance frequently present teams with communication challenges when they are faced with time sensitive issues that must be resolved quickly.
Additional communication issues are associated with the sheer breadth
and depth of Boeing’s knowledge base. When faced with questions about a
particular part included in one of Boeing’s new airliners, an engineer can be
challenged to identify the right person in the company to contact for
Boeing knows that continual innovation is important to its long term success. It also recognizes that effective communication among its employees, customers, and suppliers is an important enabler of continual innovation. Boeing has traditionally relied on a variety of systems to facilitate collaboration among its employees and business partners. As illustrated in Figure C1-1a, Web conferencing, audio conferencing, desktop sharing, and mobile voice and data services have been used by Boeing employees to facilitate communication among geographically dispersed team members.
Historically, these capabilities have been provided by different third-party providers who were selected on the basis of their ability to provide high- quality communication services at competitive rates.
By the mid-2000s, Boeing had begun its migration toward unified messaging and unified communications. At that time, instant messaging (IM) was one of the more popular messaging services used Boeing employees. At Boeing, IM has traditionally been supplemented by Web and audio conferencing services as well as by desktop sharing services. The capabilities provided by these services are especially important when answers to complex questions are needed. During the mid-2000s, more than 100,000 employees used conferencing services each year. As you might expect,
conferencing services represented a significant percentage of Boeing’s annual communication expenses.
1. Some virtual teams at Boeing have discussions focused on military aircraft. Do some Internet research on UC security mechanisms and identify and briefly describe several that Boeing should have in place to ensure the privacy and integrity of such discussions.
2. To what extent do the UC benefits experienced by Boeing mirror those of other firms that have deployed UC capabilities over converged IP networks?
3. To date, Boeing has not implemented the full range of capabilities available through UC systems. If you were the CIO at Boeing, what additional UC capabilities would you implement? What benefits would you expect Boeing to derive from deploying these capabilities?
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