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Kaplan Testing Chromebooks in Call Centers

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June 11, 2012

Kaplan Testing Chromebooks in Call Centers

By Allison Boccamazzo, Managing Content Producer

While business customers have been hesitant to buy Google (News - Alert) Chromebooks – which run software delivered via a web browser – Edward Hanapole is testing dozens of new Chromebook notebooks and Chromebox desktop machines in his call centers. Hanapole, CIO for diversified education services company Kaplan, has taken this aggressive approach as a result of the computers’ efficient and promising performance, which boot up faster and cost less than traditional laptops.

A wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company (News - Alert), Kaplan has been a longstanding and trustworthy company which many have relied on to help prepare for various exams. In a recent blog by Clint Boulton, it was further reported that the company is trying to help re-establish itself after experiencing a decline in revenue over the last few years. Last month, the Washington Post reported revenue for its education division (Kaplan) had totaled to about $553 million for the first quarter of 2012 – and 11 percent decline from last year’s $618 million as reflected in the first quarter of 2011.

This financial challenge Kaplan is facing is partly because of its business line diversification, as accumulated from two decades of acquisition. Additionally, Kaplan has four major subdivisions, including Kaplan Higher Education – comprised of Kaplan University, Kaplan Professional, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, and Kaplan Kids and Schools – which all run custom business systems, operations systems, and learning platforms, which Hanapole says managing business software and infrastructure for become quite burdensome.

This is where Kaplan CEO Andy Rosen took the reins. Having started an IT transformation process back in 2009 to cut costs and run the company more efficiently, he is now focusing his esteemed efforts on untangling Kaplan’s infrastructure. Rosen hired Hanapole in 2010, who integrated disparate systems and streamlined IT during stints at News Corp. and IBM (News - Alert), as well as began transitioning Kaplan from Microsoft Office productivity software to Google Apps. As about 23,000 North American employees currently use Google, Hanapole said, “Google Apps is a starting point for IT automation and efficiency.”

His latest testing of Chromebook and Chromebox tests are just another step to moving to the cloud, and may just stand as one of the boldest cloud moves for a CIO yet. Chrome machines allow contact agents to field, transfer, hold, and release customer calls directly through the computers. In an age where businesses are wary to use Chromebooks due to their limited local storage, this is a pretty progressive move on Hanapole’s half. Not only is it rather risky, but it’s also cost-effective, at least compared to the thousands of dollars a year he pays to license and manage Microsoft (News - Alert) desktops in call centers. Furthermore, he believes that making this switch could cut the company’s computing costs in half.

If things go as planned, Hanapole hopes to transition all 3,000 contact center agents, and eventually all of the company’s 20,000 plus-knowledge workers, to Chrome-based machines.

“What I’m trying to do is flip it so that we’re formally sponsoring a program that is giving our employees who have expectations of how they want to use tools and technology to communicate and replicate that in a corporate environment,” Hanapole said. “Nobody goes home and works in Outlook.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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