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2020 Hindsight

This story does not start March 11, 2020. That’s the day the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. Nor does it begin Jan. 22, the day 160 Molex employees in Wuhan, China, began working remotely because of an alarming coronavirus outbreak. (Wuhan went into lockdown the next day.) Even going back to the summer of 2018, when Koch updated its Vision with an emphasis on technology-driven transformational change, isn’t far enough.

Understanding how so many Koch company employees responded so effectively to the challenges of COVID-19 last year involves several years of preparation and transformation.

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From 3D-printing PPE to creating rapid COVID-19 test kits and key ventilator components, employees across Koch Industries stepped up in response to the pandemic.

Laying the groundwork

“More than five years ago,” recalled Richard Swan, president of Koch Global Services, “Koch Industries developed some core digital strategies that were highly transformational. We wanted Koch Industries to be more global as well as more integrated. We wanted to utilize a more efficient tech platform while simplifying our systems. And we wanted to rethink the way we manage our facilities.”

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According to Swan, those strategies led to a series of transformations that are still ongoing. “We transformed our IT infrastructure to be cloud enabled and more secure. We were finally able to integrate HR into a single platform. We’ve reorganized our facilities teams and built out our global service centers.” As it turned out, implementing those and other transformations prior to 2020 made a huge difference when the world was suddenly plunged into a pandemic.

Forecast: the cloud

One of the biggest technology changes affecting employees was the migration to Office 365. That changeover, which some employees accepted grudgingly, began in 2015 and was largely complete by the end of 2016. Koch’s senior management believed Office 365 would provide several important enhancements without sacrificing the familiar software so many employees were accustomed to using. 

Because it is cloud-based, Office 365 enables employees to access their work account from anywhere – in the office, on the road, at home, on the go — easily and with far greater security. With Office 365, a change made while working on a mobile phone shows up when logging in at the office or on a different computer. Putting all Koch companies on the same platform for the first time also means licensing and maintenance are now more efficient.

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The ability to work remotely in 2020 was made possible by changes Koch set in motion more than five years ago.

One of the biggest advantages is enhanced collaboration because internet-based chat, phone service and videoconferencing capabilities are built in. For the first time, newly acquired Koch companies and legacy businesses can access information and each other more easily and accurately. 

“Great technology helps you do your job better without getting in the way or drawing too much attention to itself,” said Laura Pickle, chief information officer for Koch Companies Public Sector. “Office 365 still looked and ‘felt’ a lot like previous Office products, but gave us so much more capability. That was essential during lockdowns.” 

When thousands of Koch company employees suddenly found themselves having to work remotely last year, the enhanced functionality of Office 365 made a world of difference.

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Can you imagine COVID without Teams?” asked Laura Pickle, CIO for Koch Companies Public Sector.

The migration to Office 365 is just one example of a transformation made before the pandemic that made an essential difference during the pandemic. As the following stories show, individual employees, sites and entire businesses were better able to deal with the challenges of 2020 because of Koch’s focus on knowledge sharing and networks, transformational change and other MBM® principles at all times in all areas.