Adding cross-platform collaboration to an e-mail culture

With 7,000 employees in 300 locations in the United States and Canada, American Water began to search for a solution to foster collaboration and provide a single view of documents, e-mails, instant messenging and other information. The company operates under local management, and that decentralized corporate structure had resulted in implementation of numerous standalone communication tools and more than 1,000 databases, which, in turn, created inefficiencies and impeded knowledge sharing enterprisewide.

Rather than deploy a single-vendor solution, American Water chose a multivendor approach that integrated Microsoft SharePoint and harmon.ie  for SharePoint with its existing IBM Lotus Notes environment. Harmon.ie is social e-mail software that offers point-and-click access to SharePoint functionality through the e-mail inbox.

Steve Brescia, manager of ITS enterprise architecture for American Water, says, "We wanted to build our collaboration strategy around the e-mail client, because our company operates in an e-mail culture. That's why harmon.ie is such a pivotal component of our platform. Bringing SharePoint into the e-mail interface will not only save people time but also encourage use of our collaboration tools by making them easily accessible within the familiar e-mail context."

Harmon.ie says with its solution "serving as the glue" between Notes and SharePoint, American Water users can access SharePoint functions with Notes, without multistep navigation and repeated application switching.

Brescia says, "Without harmon.ie, there would be no way for users to upload documents from Notes into SharePoint or sync personal and team calendars, due to the lack of integration between IBM and Microsoft. By bridging that gap, harmon.ie enables us to have a cross-platform collaboration solution, as well as preserve the Lotus Notes e-mail environment that we have used for over 10 years."

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