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Case Study: How Eastman Chemical Company Exemplifies the Road to Digital Transformation

The shift towards digital was already inevitable. The novel coronavirus pandemic simply expedited the timeline, but digital transformation was always the future. However, it’s a future that many businesses still don’t fully comprehend.

At BlackBerry, we take a great deal of pride in our technology. However, we also recognize that our portfolio is only part of the equation. Without the necessary experience, expertise, and employee training, even the most innovative solution cannot be leveraged by customers to its fullest extent.

Eastman Chemical Company understands this, too. Headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, Eastman is a global specialty materials manufacturer founded more than a century ago. They’re also one of the flagship customers for our BlackBerry® AtHoc® crisis communications platform, installing a custom deployment of the solution called Eastman Alert in 2012 as part of a strategic safety improvement initiative.

At first, many weren’t sure what to make of the new solution.

“Shortly after the initial installation there was a company wide townhall meeting, when a chemical release occurred. We sent out an Eastman Alert and everyone’s pagers and cellphones went off,” recalls Keith Bennett, Emergency Services Manager at Eastman. “I was excited because the system was working; people were being notified of what was happening. But what followed was multiple complaint calls and confusion – the technology was working but employees were not used to the system and were not trained in how to respond.”

“We’ve come a long way since then,” he continues. “Through training, drills, and real-life events, our employees have now come to depend on Eastman Alert. Now, we receive calls when people don’t get a message they were expecting to receive.”

Bennett notes that he was caught off-guard by this development because at the time, he thought that establishing an emergency communication system was solely about owning the right technology. All he needed to do was deploy BlackBerry AtHoc, and everything else would fall into place. Back then, however, the technology alone didn’t solve the emergency communication gap.  

“I understand now that technology is just one leg of the stool,” explains Bennett. “There’s also a cultural component, the second leg, which involves communicating in a way that’s effective with clear expectations, and training personnel so that they understand not just the processes around it, but how they are to respond.”

“The third leg, I think, has to do with accountability and feedback,” Bennett adds. “Over the past several years, Eastman has emphasized the importance of drills, the importance of listening to feedback. It’s been a cultural shift where management is helping hold us accountable in a positive way.”

The road to digital transformation isn’t one that can be traveled through technology alone. Hardware and software can only take you so far. To truly move towards a hyperconnected future, you must be willing to undergo a cultural shift, and educate your entire organization before, during, and after the deployment of major software solutions.

Eastman Chemical Company is an excellent example of this in practice. Through training, feedback, and communication, plus working alongside BlackBerry, the organization deployed an emergency alerting solution that is unique and tailored to its precise needs. And through cultural and process shifts, Eastman Chemical continues to leverage BlackBerry AtHoc in new and unexpected ways.

“If there’s an emergency, everyone now knows about it almost simultaneously,” says Bennett. “It’s really revolutionized our protocols and enhanced our ability to keep people safe. It changed how we communicate – and those changes continue to this day.”

Learn more about how Eastman Chemical Company is using BlackBerry AtHoc.

Ramon Pinero

About Ramon Pinero

Ramon Pinero is Vice President, Product and Services, BlackBerry AtHoc.