Case In Brief: Tokyo Electron Bridges Information Silos

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Employee Engagement
Employee Engagement
The semiconductor company created a robust and searchable index to help employees do their jobs better.

Informed employees are more efficient and effective in their jobs, making access to information essential for organizations that want to be successful. Unfortunately, departmental silos and red tape often hinder sharing of information across the organization, leaving workers without the needed knowledge.

Semiconductor production equipment supplier Tokyo Electron America, a subsidiary of the 50-year-old Tokyo Electron Limited, wanted to make sure that its staff members had all the information they needed to do their jobs well. This was a challenge because information was dispersed throughout the organization. According to Kevin Chasey, Tokyo Electron America's senior vice president for North America, the company had been on a journey to rectify this issue since 2004 when it addressed the siloed product lines, centralizing information gathered and accessed by field engineers.

However, the information was not properly indexed, meaning that conducting searches was a time-consuming process. This also had an impact on end customers when worst-case-scenario events occurred on advanced technology and first-of-their-kind tools where normal engineering or service information wasn't ready available. Chasey notes that while the service team was able to comply to service levels in 95 percent of the time, the service management team wanted to continue to improve.

Further, field service engineers are often out of the office for days on end visiting clients, so even if they knew where to look for information, retrieving it in a timely manner was often challenging. In fact, finding information among rapidly accumulating data was so challenging that groups would often assign a single engineer who was particularly talented in obtaining information to lead the search efforts.

Analysis of the situation showed that events that exceeded time limits were mostly due to issues with knowledge retrieval. Tokyo Electron America's business leaders wanted to find a way to help engineers find data effectively and therefore started looking for a search mechanism. The company decided to implement an enterprise search solution by Coveo to index information from various, highly localized sources into a single search box, which the company rolled out last year.

Results

Having easy access to information has proven extremely beneficial for Tokyo Electron America and its clients since field service engineers are more agile at identifying a problem and solving it, thus reducing down time and abiding by the company's service agreements. The company as a whole is more proficient. Chasey notes that beforehand when field service agents encountered a problem while working with a client, they would contact the office to find someone who could find the information they were looking for. Instead, they now have access to data themselves, allowing them to do research without involving another party.

Further, because the solution gathers information from different repositories, it's much easier to find the needed information while at the same time respecting complex and localized permissions. Mean-time-to repair for targeted worst-case-scenario events has improved by 28 percent.

Additionally, field service engineers are happier. "We've seen some [surprised] facial expressions on people who used to spend hours trying to search for a document and are now doing it much more quickly," Chasey says.

Lessons learned

Bridge information silos: Organizations need to bring information from different repositories together.

Make data searchable: Companies should make sure that employees have access to the information they need.

Reduce employee effort: Giving workers the tools to do their jobs better will improve employee satisfaction.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION