(17-May-11) For Tom Gill, information technology has enabled the steady growth and globalization of Plantronics Inc., the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based headset manufacturer where he works as CIO and vice president of IT. Over the past decade, Microsoft SharePoint collaboration has played an increasingly important role in that architecture, connecting the company’s 3,000 employees across 20 offices in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
“Basically, it replaced our corporate intranet as our repository of all the information we want to share,” Gill said, referring to Microsoft’s content management and collaboration platform.
Plantronics began moving its U.S. manufacturing operations to Mexico in 1972, three years after one of its headsets captured the words of Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong when he first stepped on the moon. The company gradually added manufacturing or design facilities in the U.S., United Kingdom, and China, and distribution centers in several more countries. To keep them all connected, Gill's globally dispersed IT team has had to build and maintain a far-flung network infrastructure that runs a long list of enterprise applications.
Besides serving as the common storehouse of corporate information, SharePoint is a real-time collaboration hub, thanks to close integration with Lync, the successor to Microsoft’s unified communications platform, Office Communications Server. “SharePoint includes presence information,” Gill said. “I can see if the person is currently around, and I can [instant message] them.”