To strengthen valuable relationships and grow its customer base, MainTech wanted to engage more closely with prospects across the country. How could it achieve the goal without breaking the bank?
MainTech augmented its face-to-face user groups with collaboration in the cloud—enabling its employees, customers and prospects to exchange ideas via communities, wikis, blogs and more.
Engagesprospective customers, creating new business opportunities
Buildscloser relationships with existing customers, nurturing their loyalty
Boostsproject management efficiency and enhances service quality
Business challenge story
Strong relationships drive growth
For consulting firms, winning clients from a broad range of industries is a powerful tool to mitigate the risk of the ups and downs of global business cycles.
“We aim to drive 10 percent of our total revenue from a new market every year,” explains Roger Sundal, IT Manager at MainTech AS. “This approach is particularly valuable in Norway, as overreliance on one large industry—for example, oil and gas—substantially increases exposure to market movements.
“In the consulting space, winning new business depends on more than building a strong reputation—and it is vital to cultivate relationships with a wide range of companies. We see that running and participating in user groups are extremely effective ways to reemphasize the breadth and depth of our expertise in the engineering domain, and to maintain regular contact with potential customers.”
To differentiate itself in the marketplace and sharpen its competitive edge, MainTech looked for a way to build closer working relationships with its prospects across Norway.
“In any engagement, it’s always our goal to be the catalyst between our customers and their suppliers,” continues Sundal. “We want to be the place where people meet to discuss new approaches to maintenance and business process optimization. For that reason, we chair at least two user groups every year, and frequently visit and present at industry events.
“In the past, we relied on email and phone calls to keep in contact with our peers and prospects in the months between the user sessions. This approach made it difficult to continue the discussions that started at the events, and we knew that we were missing out on valuable opportunities for engagement. To help us drive toward our 10 percent revenue goal, we looked for a collaboration solution that would enable us to maintain these valuable relationships throughout the year.”
Shaping closer collaboration in the cloud
To solve the challenge, MainTech selected IBM Connections Cloud—an enterprise platform that enables collaboration via communities, wikis, blogs, collaborative document editing and more.
“For many years, we have relied on IBM Notes® and Domino® to deliver email and calendaring to our business users, and we’ve always been impressed by the straightforward manageability and usability of the platform,” says Sundal.
“In recent years, we’ve seen that social media has matured rapidly—and collaboration via cloud services such as Facebook and LinkedIn is now commonplace. We realized that we could unlock those enterprise collaboration capabilities with IBM Connections Cloud almost immediately, and embarked on a project to give everyone in the business access to the solution.”
Working together with IBM, MainTech piloted the IBM Connections Cloud solution with the employees responsible for running its user groups. Next, the company invited the entire business to join the platform.
“Our initial work with our superusers was positive, and their feedback on the solution gave us the confidence that we had made the right choice,” recalls Sundal. “The Connections interface is highly intuitive, and we found that minimal training was required to get our people up and running. In fact, when we rolled out the solution to the entire business, a half-day session was all we needed in the first place.”
Reaping the benefits of customer engagement
Today, MainTech’s employees, clients and prospects can all interact on the same cloud collaboration platform—fostering closer working relationships and creating new engagement opportunities.
“In the past, our communication in the spaces between events was essentially in one direction,” Sundal comments. “Although we would share emails with the discussion points from our face-to-face sessions, communicating via an email chain did not provide a natural way for people to discuss and interact—and as a result, many promising discussions trailed off. Today, that’s all changed. With IBM Connections Cloud communities, we can take down the barriers to asking questions and having in-depth discussions—two things our peers and prospects find very valuable.”
He continues: “One great example is our SAP forum, which we run in Oslo every year. We now invite all participants to join an IBM Connections community for information about relevant meetings, seminars and smaller informal events. Many of our current and potential customers are signing up and posting to the group, and we are very pleased with the quality of the discussions so far.”
The company is now using the IBM Connections Cloud platform to manage client engagements—a powerful source of differentiation.
“The consulting space is a competitive industry, and we see that our competencies in the collaboration space are a strong advantage in winning new business,” says Sundal. “We have already used communities as the hub for two customer engagements, and the feedback has been extremely positive. Shared to-do lists and collaborative document editing make it far easier to track project deliverables and keep complex work proceeding on target. Better still, IBM Connections Cloud surfaces relevant information to each member of the project, helping to ensure that important work items don’t slip through.”
The IBM solution is also enabling MainTech to optimize its internal processes and drive operational efficiency.
“Before, we documented our practices and procedures in text documents on a shared drive,” explains Sundal. “As well as making it time-consuming for our people to find the information they needed, we needed to manually provision user permissions on the intranet every time a new person joined the business. Today, we’ve cut out all of that complexity. All of our processes are documented on wikis, and we can give new joiners access to the platform at the touch of a button.”
He continues: “Our people travel frequently, and we feel that it’s important to maintain a close-knit culture even when they are working out on site with our clients. The IBM solution enables our employees to publish blogs and status updates via their mobile devices—helping everyone in the business stay in touch with their colleagues and informed about work in progress.”
By embracing the cloud delivery model, MainTech is obtaining significant cost-efficiencies.
“Our IBM Connections Cloud solution has the IBM Connections Chat instant messaging services built in, which has enabled us to avoid the need for a substantial upgrade of our server and storage infrastructure,” adds Sundal. “We estimate we have reduced our operational costs by NOK 25,000, and cut our management requirements substantially—enabling us to redirect time and investment towards delivering new services for the business.”
Sundal concludes: “The more you engage productively with peers in your industry, the more likely you are to inspire them to work with you in the future. IBM Connections Cloud is helping us to build stronger relationships with clients and prospects, nurture their loyalty, and grow our client base.”
About MainTech AS
Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Trondheim, Norway, MainTech AS is an engineering consulting company specializing in operations, maintenance, inspection and material technologies. With expertise in industries ranging from oil and gas to mining, fish farming and energy, MainTech helps businesses increase efficiency, improve procedures and sharpen their competitive edge.
- ESS: Connections Cloud S1 (SaaS)
- ESS: Connections Meetings Cloud (SaaS)
- ESS: SmartCloud Notes (SaaS)
- IBM SmartCloud Connections
- ICS: Domino
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Connections, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/marketplace/ibm-connections