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CIOs talk about how social networking builds enterprise collaboration

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Oct. 25, 2012
Does taking a more social, collaborative approach work?

Marcante: Three years ago, Vanguard chartered an Enterprise 2.0 initiative to provide the goals and direction to implement E2.0. Instead of only looking at enterprise networks as part of this initiative, Vanguard decided to define it by asking:

" How can we enable our crew to be mobile and be as effective as possible?

" How can we allow the crew to communicate more effectively virtually or in person?

" How can crew collaborate more effectively, especially in a 24/7 global world?

"Technology like email will continue to serve a valuable function, but social technologies help redirect some behaviors to more effectively capture knowledge."

A quick win for our crew was providing the ability to share personnel information, such as the "About me" section of crew profiles. They can also use video collaborative technologies and internal Crew Chat (IM) to connect instantly with other crew members.

Another success was the launch of communities of practice within the IT division. The site is called the IT Hub and it enables crew with common skills to share their knowledge across multiple divisions. We spent a significant amount of time on behavioral changes and the change management process to encourage the Hub's adoption. Creative marketing tools were employed and ambassadors were introduced at the grass roots level to encourage participation. Due to the Hub's success, communities of practice are expanding to the business.

CIO.com: Did the new system replace an existing system/technology? (How did employees primarily communicate/share information beforehand, via email?)

Meerschaert: I'd say augment, not replace. Email is still incredibly important. We Skype, too. A Skype message to us means urgent and can lead to a Skype call if text is not cutting it. But we have moved to replacing a few conference calls with Tweet chats, we've added tweet chats to our marketing mix too.

Marcante: The correct word would be supplement. Technology like email will continue to serve a valuable function, but social technologies help redirect some behaviors to more effectively capture knowledge. Some conversations need to occur in private and email may be the best platform. Previously, email was used to ask a question and get an answer.

Now, employees use enterprise collaboration for those functions. In the future, when someone else has the same question, the first place to look will be in our collaboration platform. Complete adoption should occur once the enterprise collaboration tools are integrated into the business processes and applications, maximizing business value.

CIO.com: How was buy-in both among executives and the workforce? Are there generational differences? That is, did younger workers embrace the technology while older ones did not, or not as quickly?

Meerschaert: Our staff is a brave lot, full of energy and willing to try almost everything with a smile. I think the idea that old = timid is not true.

 

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