Expedia Travels Down the Collaboration RoadBy Samuel Greengard Print
The online travel site deployed a sophisticated file-sharing and collaboration platform that enables its employees to access needed files anytime, anywhere.
The ability to share data and files is essential to digital transformation. But, as business and IT leaders know, putting technology into motion and achieving best practice results can be daunting. One organization that has traveled down this road is Expedia, a global travel agency with several brands, including Orbitz, Hotwire, Hotels.com and CheapTickets.
"The ability to share a wide variety of files and have access to them anytime, anywhere is essential," observes Charles Ludwick, head of client engineering for the company.
As Expedia migrated to a digital framework with a greater array of devices—including PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones—the need to manage communication and collaboration grew exponentially. "People were using a collection of tools and services, including Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox, to manage work," Ludwick recalls. "It was sometimes chaotic and not always efficient."
A More Efficient Business and IT Framework
Although the company wanted to continue allowing employees to tackle work in the way that best suited their preferences and needs—including relying on the specific computing device and software tools they chose—a more efficient business and IT framework was critical.
After surveying the vendor landscape and weighing the pros and cons of various tools and approaches, the company selected Dropbox Business. "About one-third of our users were already using Dropbox, and it offered the features and security protections we required," Ludwick explains.
In March 2016, Expedia began rolling out the file management and collaboration platform to 18,000 employees located across 72 global offices. Today, all employees, except the call center staff, use the system to store encrypted files in the cloud and share Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, audio and video files and much more. For many tasks, such as video editing, employees collaborate on projects directly through the cloud-based platform.
Expedia continues to allow employees to use other collaboration services: "There are legitimate and continuing use cases for these services, and we want to continue to give people flexibility," Ludwick points out. Nevertheless, the primary business focus is on Dropbox.
As a result, the use of shared folders across the enterprise is up 112 percent year over year, totaling 8,995. The overall number of connections within Dropbox is up 423 percent, to a total of115,625.
"Dropbox works seamlessly across our hardware platforms and software," Ludwick reports. "People don't have to worry about having access to their files. They are always available, and they are not tied to a single device. In addition, employees can roll back to previous versions of a file if someone makes an error or a file becomes corrupted."
The transition to the platform went smoothly, according to Ludwick. Expedia experienced only a few minor hiccups related to putting the platform in place, but they were resolved quickly.
Now, the company is beta testing Dropbox Smart Sync, which allows users to see and access all their files and folders directly from their desktop browser or smartphone app—regardless of whether they are located on local hard drives or in the cloud.
"We are now able to work on projects and jump on calls without worrying about whether the required file is available or accessible," Ludwick reports. "It has been a boon to productivity."
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