Operating across a diverse range of industries, Sunway’s business activities span real estate, construction, retail, leisure, hospitality, healthcare, education, and more. The company’s rise has been supported by a robust and distributed network of expert teams and highly skilled individuals, each of whom has provided valuable knowledge and expertise supporting the company’s success.
Yet, with growing employee numbers and a highly distributed footprint, Sunway needed to ensure that the knowledge and skills of both staff and outside experts could be shared effectively and efficiently, and ensure a firm foundation for collaboration.
“We employ about 16,000 people in 50 locations predominantly across Asia. As the company grows by hiring from around the world, there has to be better communication and a robust platform for all of the employees to work with,” explains Kevin Khoo, Chief Information Officer at Sunway Group. “The solution had to be easy to roll out, adopt, and use to improve our productivity.”
Boosting productivity with collaboration tools
“Our first step toward innovation was to move everybody’s email to Microsoft Outlook,” Khoo says. “It took a little over six months to complete. There was a couple of hiccups because we were moving many huge files, including archives from the last 20 years. But we managed to overcome them with the technical expertise of Microsoft.”
“After the smooth transition for email, we could continue introducing tools available in Office 365. We really wanted to share files and have video conference calls,” Khoo notes. From there, the natural next step was to start using SharePoint and Microsoft Teams, enabling secure file sharing and video calls between colleagues and teams.
“My team was met with inquiries, which was good,” says Khoo. Realizing employees were open to change, company leaders created a change management program in tandem with Microsoft. The program focused on exploring additional use cases where collaborative tools could help Sunway’s staff communicate and share more effectively.
The digital solution allowed Sunway to bridge its communication gaps and make information available to all. “Early in the adoption, about 10 meetings would take place each week. In recent weeks, it’s increased about 35 times. We have around 350 online meetings, and close to 1,000 calls. Through video conferences on Teams, managers can continue staying in touch with their staff and discover their needs, so all of them can serve their business partners better.” Khoo adds, “For teams that can’t go out and work due to unforeseen circumstances, the leaders conduct online training on Teams to sharpen staff knowledge. By accessing files on SharePoint, we can all work from home seamlessly.”
With a more united and productive workforce, the business became more cost-efficient. “We managed to save more than MYR2.5 million with Microsoft’s suite of digital solutions. They check all the boxes of what we’re trying to achieve, so we also don’t need to spend on other tools.”
Stimulating innovation for sustainable growth
With more than 50 percent of its workforce now taking advantage of digital collaboration tools, Sunway empowers its employees to provide more value to its customers. According to Khoo, “It’s time for us to see if we can adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning within our diverse businesses. Right now, we’re researching to see whether we can integrate these innovations into our healthcare and retail business units. There are also three city-based projects we’re considering turning into smart city designs.”
Going forward, Sunway seeks to increase the adoption of digital tools across the organization, so more employees are better equipped to solve problems and work collaboratively. “If our employees didn’t have the right programs and tools, we would face more challenges. We would still be caught up in improving communication,” Khoo observes. “We’ve gotten a lot of help from various divisions of Sunway for the adoption process. One of them is Group Brand Marketing and Communications. We’re working very closely with them to continue to educate and spread awareness on how each tool can help. Employees have been receptive, so I’m confident that we can achieve our goal of having 80 percent become active daily users throughout 2020.”
Given its presence in Malaysia, Sunway plans to sustain its strong influence as it grows. “When people hear ‘Sunway’, they think of brick-and-mortar business. That’s fair, but there’s nothing to stop us from starting our own digital transformation journey. We wanted to change how we collaborate as we grow bigger and more diverse,” Khoo says. “Now that we’re able to chat, call, have online meetings, and trainings together, share files securely, anywhere, anytime, we’re more productive, and we can continue to innovate as a team. There’s an opportunity for us to tap into the expertise of Microsoft again as we are looking to explore the next chapters of our transformation journey with machine learning, for example. This engagement is very important. It proves that when you have a strong purpose behind your digital transformation, you can find people who believe in you and are committed to your success.”