By Juliet Bootle
Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have rapidly engulfed modern society in the last five years and organizations are following this charge by creating bespoke internal networks for employees to communicate internally. More often than not these platforms are Cloud-based, providing the potential for employees to work on the same documents together simultaneously across the globe: a true act of collaboration. But what are the main advantages of a Cloud-based internal social network?
There’s no doubt that these platforms have made a considerable impact to the efficiency of everyday work, with one main advantage being that they save time by enabling employees to communicate instantly across the office or even the world. This has the potential to create a sense of community among workers and encourage a collaborative environment by raising the visibility of international employees and making inter-office communication accessible to everyone.
Additionally, a study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by the Internal Data Corporation (IDC), estimated that revenues from Cloud created innovation could reach USA$1.1 trillion/year by 2015. So making that link between Cloud-based communication and innovation is all importnat to demonstrate its impact to your organizaiton's bottom-line.
The Cloud appears to be the next stop on the technological evolutionary path. How we navigate our organizations along this route and ensure we have the right provider for our internal platform needs could be crucial to business success. Internal Communication has a responsibility to ensure that, with IT, its organization’s business goals are supported by its technology, whether that be a Cloud environment or not.
Vannevar Bush’s 1945 article “As We May Think” is remarkable in many respects. It reflects the thinking of a scientist dedicated to war but looking forward to peace, represents a new idea of managing human knowledge and is renowned as the theoretical beginning of the Internet.
Bush looked to create a machine that would make collective memory and experience accessible to all. He headed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), created in 1958 by Eisenhower in response to Soviet success in the space race. 54 years later, we live in a world marked by his legacy.
The cumulative invention of the Web in the last three decades of the twentieth century forms one of the most important turning points in human history. From the turn of the 21st century, businesses have taken Bush’s legacy forward: applying the new technologies to the problems of intra-organisational connectivity. The result was the intranet – a network built for an employee audience.
Today, many organisations use internal networks to deliver tools and applications, contain complex corporate directories and steer culture-change (i.e. take inspiration from the ideas employees post on forum conversations). The intranet has proved one of the most empowering and cost-effective technologies since the telephone. When used well it’s been found to:
- Increase productivity by making information immediately available
- Facilitate communication vertically and horizontally
- Make time: employees can link directly and swiftly to data
- Preserve knowledge: many corporate internets hold a central bank of up-to-date advice and learning
- Save money: IBM saves more than US$ 500 million a year performing HR services over the intranet*
- Create a common culture: the same information is available throughout the corporate structure
- Enhance personal branding: users consistently find authentic input increases their internal reputation
- Address the individual: intranet applications can be tailored to the user
- Empower employees: conversations are opened to the collective experience of the organisation
- Make you happy: 52% are more satisfied to be an IBM employee because of information obtained on the intranet*
Employees themselves have adapted to use their intranet to receive corporate news, access customer information and share successes. Despite its integration into many modern workers’ lives, predictions of the death of internal networks linger on the lips of many tech analysts. According to these doomsday prophets, intranets are set to be replaced by social media. Cooler heads observe that, as long as companies continue to want the ability to address and hold conversations within a purely internal audience, intranets are not at risk.
Yet, social media has its place. Toby Ward (CEO, Prescient Digital Media) explains, “Social media merely represents another channel, another technology, to augment, or enhance the corporate intranet.” Ward argues that social media platforms – SocialText, SocialCast, ThoughtFarmer – are likely to become the main technology platforms powering the intranet. Yammer is a powerful example of this. Social media is the future, not the end, of internal networks.
After all, while technology has much changed from 1945, the principles remain the same. Intranet and its forefathers have always been about information sharing, knowledge gathering and collaboration. These are principles no organisation can do without and now fall firmly within the remit of IC. Embrace your role and ensure your intranet is used to forge a more collaborative, communicative, efficient and happy organisation.
Want to learn more? Melcrum is at hand!
An introduction to SharePoint for Internal Communicators
Date: 12 September 2012
Venue: Prospero House, London
Advanced SharePoint for internal communicators
Date: 13 September 2012
Venue: Prospero House, London
Mastering Intranet Management
Dates: 18-20 September 2012
Venue: Prospero House, London
Since its inception, the evolution of writing has responded to and prompted dramatic shifts in the focus and capabilities of human society.
Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory. Clay tokens had been used to represent commodities and labour, but with the diversification of the ancient near eastern economy the variety of these tokens in circulation ballooned to more than a hundred categories. The need for simplicity spurred invention and a new communication form was created: writing. Tokens were wrapped and fired in clay, with makings to indicate the kind of tokens within. Archaeologists have convincingly argued that these were the prototype for writing tablets.
Since then, technology has transformed our use of the written word, but not reduced its importance. The Egyptian pharaohs read from papyrus, the British Domesday Book was arduously written on sheepskin parchment and Gutenberg revolutionised communication with the invention of the printing press. Today, available channels are so diffuse and varied that Twitter can sell itself on the basis of a 140-character limit – excess is available in excess.
But there are constants too. In 2012, we’re still dealing with services and commodities, but clay tokens have become a huge array of national currencies. Like the ancients, our response to the complexity of the global economy has been to simplify – translating the perceived worth of a company into share and stock options within a single system of trade.
This still leaves an economy as massive as it is intricate. Our secondary response has, therefore, been an accelerated process of specialisation. The high level of expertise required to negotiate the trading floor has meant many in the financial sector have operated without adequate scrutiny. This year alone, banks have been criticised for fixing key interest rates and mis-selling personal payment insurance and financial products to small businesses. Sir Mervyn King, Head of the Bank of England, stated this week “Something went very wrong with the UK banking industry and we need to put it right.”
While the modern economy has been made possible by mathematics, transforming the culture informing the behaviours of economic operatives will take written communication – capable of conveying narrative, emotion and a sense of duty and responsibility.
So, what does this mean for communicators today? As written communication has developed from counting to the instrument of discourse and persuasion, communicators have had to be more sophisticated in their approach. It’s now necessary to analyse your audience, leverage your resources and find a unique voice to engage and convey authority and invite action within your organisation. We come to writing 6,000 years into its development; in this period of change for many organisations, we would do well to learn how to use it effectively.
Want to learn more?
What channel are you currently using to view this blog story? If the answer is a Smartphone then, rest assured, you’re not alone.
According to a recent Gartner survey, mobile phones are the most popular media device used each day by the public. The survey reveals that 74 percent of emails checked and 57 percent of social networking is composed using Smartphones, with the average persons’ usage amounting to eight times a day for tasks requiring connectivity.
This isn’t surprising; Smartphones keep us connected while we’re mobile, beyond just making calls and sending texts – a unique asset few other electronic devices can boast. They provide the user with the potential to increase efficiency and communication immensely. So how can this benefit us internally?
- Reaching the entire workforce: Smartphones can be a real solution to connecting a non-wired workforce to the wider organization. They also provide a company's remote, globally disparate and “on-the-go” employees enterprise-grade access to essential business information. And speaking of on-the-go employees…
- Push Communication: Ensuring company announcements reach the entire workforce, at the same time.
- Collaboration: With its adeptness at supporting email, corporate networks and enterprise social media applications, Smartphones are well-placed to manage interactions between employees wherever they are, whenever. This collaboration between workers can increase staff productivity and ultimately benefit the business.
Of course, not all employees will want to be accessible 24/7 and may fear arbitrarily being spammed with low-value communication day and night. But that's a blog for another day.
What are your views on Smartphones as a organizational communication channel?
With the Strategic Communication Management Awards 2012 deadline quite literally around the corner (Friday 29 June), for those of you who haven’t entered yet, here’s ten top reasons (although we can think of plenty more!) why you really can’t afford to miss this opportunity to put yourself forward for the chance to receive industry and peer recognition for the work you do everyday.
- Join the ranks of Internal Communication teams who are already proud winners of an SCM Award, including those at leading organisations like Nationwide Building Society, Bupa and Heineken UK.
- Receive industry and peer recognition for work you've already done.
- Have your work reviewed by industry experts. As seasoned pros, our judges have seen and achieved a lot. So if you make the shortlist - you're at the top of your game, and if you're lucky enough to win - you can be confident you've broken the mould and established a new benchmark for the profession as a whole.
- Reward, thank and inspire your team by demonstrating how proud you are of their work.
- Benchmark your work at an event showcasing the best the industry has to offer and use the opportunity to analyse and evaluate your comms efforts.
- Celebrate your wins and highlight areas where you can raise the bar.
- Elevate the status of the IC function in your organisation and boost the credibility of comms as a business-critical function.
- Boost your CV with an industry-recognised award.
- Prove the value of your abilities and your team's budget.
- Attract and retain the best talent.
With nine categories open to entry – three of which are free to enter - there’s no excuse for not putting pen to paper - but hurry! The deadline is fast approaching, and yes, this really is the final one!
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
Now, it seems quite natural that Yammer would be purchased by a technology "giant" – the nature of the digital sector means that, more often than not, young upstarts offering fresh, innovative technologies are assimilated by the big players keen to get in on the action, with a recent example being Facebook's acquisition of Instagram.
Online consensus for the specific reasons behind Microsoft's alleged purchase of Yammer seems to be that it wants to "plug the holes" around social networking in the SharePoint platform. The fact that Yammer already has SharePoint feature integration should make this amalgamation that much easier.
Potentially, bringing in a predominant social network element to SharePoint will help it "keep up with the Joneses", as some argue that SharePoint cannot currently compete with competitors in this space, which appeared to be confirmed by Jon Barrett, Microsoft Australia’s Solution Specialist - Business Productivity in a recent interview with Image and Data Manager.
In the interview, he reveals that Microsoft's "Wave 15" of SharePoint, to be released in December 2012, improves upon basic social features from former versions, "but will not be at the level of feature richness that Newsgator [its primary partner in social media at the time of the interview] has."Gaining Yammer's expertise, knowledge and software in this area will undoubtedly elevate its functionality.
For those who already have SharePoint and have not invested in social plug ins, such as Newsgator, having Yammer’s technology already included in the platform, and inclusive of the price, is hugely appealing. However, could the future for these social add-on technologies be affected if this integration goes ahead? Only time will tell.
Looking at the situation broadly, the idea of "integration" is one that keeps cropping up at the moment (I feel like it's my very own number 23), whether it be integration of technology within technology, as in this case, or using an integrated approach to communication. It seems we are all taking a broad, holistic view of business and witnessing its development, where technology is changing how we communicate, connect and work, and the boundaries between business, community and our personal lives are blurring. Microsoft's purchase of Yammer indicates how the social side of business has become as valued as old-school functions. Predicting accurately where this journey will end up is impossible, but definitely exciting to imagine.
For more stories looking at SharePoint, visit the stories on the Internal Comms Hub below:
Until next time,
by Christopher Otto, Senior Vice President, Strategic
Communication, FTI Consulting
It’s your first day in your new position as Communications Director. Your boss sends you an email saying: “I want to change the culture here.”
“OK,” you respond, “What do you want it to be?”
Every leader wants to put his own stamp on the culture. HR rolls out a flashy PowerPoint deck proposing a new performance review process, better food in the cafeteria, foosball table in the break room and contemporary sofas in the lobby. A new supervisor moves Monday morning staff meetings to 8am instead of 11am and stocks the vending machines with bottled water instead of soda. If the goal is to increase engagement to achieve greater results, these kinds of changes won’t get it done.
As a communicator, the best asset in your IC arsenal is the CEO, but a CEO who is disinclined, disinterested or simply does not excel in communication can be a liability to your corporate culture.
When a highly-respected corporate turnaround expert was hired as CEO of a flailing technology giant a few years ago, he announced to the employees that his door was open and he was ready and willing to have a dialogue with employees – that he was one of them. Soon after, he had the executive office suite gutted and renovated as a protective bunker, complete with blast-proof walls, bulletproof glass, a private entrance and a gated, walled-in parking lot. Any credibility and trust he was given by the employees coming in, was undermined.
A quick internet search will turn up dozens of companies that have announced layoffs, restructuring, and downsizing within weeks of handing the CEO a hefty performance bonus. Levels of trust in leadership? Gone. It may be necessary to take dramatic steps to stabilize a company on life support, but as Jim Collins points out in his book From Good to Great, a CEO whose interests diverge from those of the company is actually working against the long term success of the enterprise. In fact, any leader who puts himself, his job, his salary, his bonus, or his own interests ahead of the organization, is setting a cultural tone. If there is one thing that stands in the way of improving the culture of an organization, it’s executive hypocrisy.
Show them the way
A recent study by FTI Consulting showed that after a new CEO is in place, the number one thing investors expect to see in the first six months is a clear vision and strategy. When meeting new CEOs in the first 100 days of his or her administration, investors primarily look to see how he or she plans to take command of the company and what the strategy looks like. Interestingly, charisma and personality ranked last in terms of factors investors look for from a new CEO. Clearly, investors and employees alike want chief executives that will chart a path that is clear, compelling, and achievable.
As communicators, there are six essential steps we must work with corporate leaders to consistently achieve:
1. Plan the route
It seems too obvious, but establishing a compelling strategy that employees and investors can not only understand but can get behind is critical. When Leo Apotheker became CEO of HP in late 2010 in the wake of the damaging and scandalous departure of Mark Hurd, HP was in desperate need of strong leadership and a clear direction. Apotheker and his team failed to provide either. HP’s strategy under his guidance was perceived as “rambling and unclear.” The company flip-flopped on its commitments to the tablet and personal computer businesses and as a result, share prices dropped 20% on a single day of trading in August 2011. A month later, Apotheker was dismissed, but the damage was done. The company lost USA$30 billion in market capitalization during his eleven months as CEO.
Running a company, especially a company the size of HP, is like taking a bus trip with your family, extended family and all the crazy relatives that can possibly fit on the bus. Everyone has a stake in where the bus is going, an opinion on how to get there, and probably a secret (or not-so-secret) desire to drive it themselves. When one person is asked to come aboard and drive the bus, it’s a mistake to simply take the wheel and hit the gas not knowing where the bus is going. He needs to know where he wants to go, how far it is, whether he’s got a vehicle capable of getting there and enough fuel for the trip.
2. Share a clear map
Once the driver knows where they're going, they need to communicate that to everyone on the bus. If the driver says nothing and aimlessly drives the bus toward a cliff, they won’t be the driver long. However, if the driver takes the time to stand up in front of the passengers and explain where they're going, the route they plan to take, the expectations they have of them along the way, and an estimate of how long it will take, they will earn a busload of trust and the time and freedom to get them where they’re going.
Lee Iacocca, who in 1979 saved Chrysler by asking for a federal bailout long before federal bailouts were in vogue, wrote in his book Where Have All the Leaders Gone?, “It always amazes me how big corporations will spend millions of dollars telling the public what’s happening, but forget to tell their own employees.”
Further, most CEOs live in an insular world. Their days are dominated by meetings with a relatively small, closed group of people—direct reports, department heads, board members, and advisers. The issues discussed on a daily basis rarely fall outside the subjects of financial metrics, profits and loss, competitive analyses, performance and planning. Few people outside the corner office can relate to the level of detail in these areas that the CEO must wrestle with every day. But few people care or need to. It is the rare CEO that understands how to explain his goals and plans in a way that people understand them. The most important factor in executive communications is clarity. A skilled communicator will craft the strategy message in a clear and simple way so that it makes sense to all stakeholders.
3. Distribute the map widely
Leaders must ensure that their direct reports not only understand and support the strategy but can communicate it themselves. Their direct reports in turn, must be able to do the same with their teams, and so on, all the way down the line. When a reporter asks a company vice president what the company’s strategy is, the answer should be the same as the one the CEO gives at a press conference. Only by enabling and demonstrating top to bottom alignment, will the strategy become widely understood, adopted and supported, otherwise management looks fragmented, disjointed, and at odds with each other. As the former CEO of Yahoo Carol Bartz painfully learned, there is nothing more attractive to the media than blood in the water – internal disagreement over company strategy.
4. Share the map…again
Repeat and report on the strategy, repeat it, and then repeat it again. Marketing experts have long debated how many times a message must be repeated before the subject takes action – three, four, seven – ultimately, all that matters is that repetition is key. Repetition is key. Repetition is key.
If you’ve written speeches or talking points for your CEO, there’s a good chance he’s said to you, “I don’t want to say that again in this speech. They heard me say that last time.” Stakeholders want to know, understand, and trust in the company’s strategy. They want to know it’s the same as it was the last time they heard you talk about it. Did he mean it? Is he sticking with it? By consistently repeating the strategy and reporting progress on a regular basis, the strategy and the company’s commitment to it becomes real and trust in leadership increases.
5. Get out of the office
“Many years ago, when Chrysler was fighting for its life, I went to every single plant so I could speak directly to the workers,” Lee Iacocca wrote. “I thanked them for hanging in there during those hard times, and asked them to join me in restoring the company to greatness. There were a lot of cheers and some boos, but I got them involved.”
A CEO of a troubled publishing company with over 30 locations recently complained to a consultant, “We have too many locations. I can’t possibly visit all of our offices and I can’t afford all that time out of the office.” The previous year, he’d visited three.
Michael Geoghegan, the former Chief Executive of HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, took two weeks every summer to launch an exhaustive roadshow tour to as many locations as he could visit in a 15-day period. With 300,000 employees across the world, it was virtually impossible to visit every location, but by traveling to 18 major HSBC cities spread across all continents, staging town halls in large offsite convention centers and auditoriums, sometimes two in a single day, hundreds of miles apart, Geoghegan was able to stand in front of tens of thousands of employees, talk about his strategy and answer their questions. He didn’t reach every employee, but he tried and his approval ratings among employees during his tenure showed they appreciated it.
6. Know your passengers
Iacocca and Geoghegan both understood that achieving the company strategy was not just a matter of getting the investors on board, it’s about the employees. If a CEO is going to earn his salary, the employees are the ones who will do the heavy lifting.
A few years ago, when a Fortune 100 consumer brand wanted to reduce costs by closing facilities and trimming its real estate holdings, it meant moving hundreds of employees across town to its corporate headquarters, which already housed over 2,500 workers. In announcing the move to the affected employees, the CEO repeatedly cited the perceived benefits of such a move—the long-term cost savings to the company, the value to shareholders and “increased opportunities to collaborate.” There was no acknowledgement that the size of the employee’s cubicles at the facilities the company was keeping would have to be reduced by two square feet to allow for the additional workers. Employees were furious. They were far more concerned about losing personal space than the company’s bottom line.
Too many leaders and communicators don’t understand that changing the culture isn’t about parties and PowerPoints. Culture is shaped by every decision they make and every message they distribute. The tone is set by their words and cemented with their actions, every day—when the boss establishes a strategy and follows it, sets rules and abides by them, not only says he is “one of us,” but demonstrates that he understands us.
Trusting the right people to create the right messages at the right time, for the right audience and through the right channel can make all the difference.
"By purpose, Internal Communication is the ultimate support group, because the function doesn’t typically have its own game plan. Rather its role is to support others in the organization in getting their message out or to help shape the culture. It doesn’t normally push its own agenda. While this can make it difficult to articulate the role of the function, the function must get better at defining its value proposition to the business."
- Angelo Ioffreda, Senior Director, Employee Communications, Engagement and Recognition, NII Holdings
An integral part of this value proposition is the ability to bring disparate parts of the business together to work more effectively and achieve better results. Whether it’s working with HR, Marketing, IT or Senior Leaders, fostering powerful partnerships is part of who we are as a function - what we know and do; and where our expertise can be applied, not only to meet the goals of others, but also those of the wider business.
At first glance the above statement by Ioffreda may sound a bit "soft", but the formation and maintenance of truly effective partnerships is far from it, particularly once the distinction between "supporting" and "partnering" has been clearly made. While the former can be important, it’s largely dictated by other people’s agendas and therefore of limited value to IC. The latter though, is a mutually active relationship with shared goals and outcomes that address real business requirements - and that’s where the value really lies.
A great example of partnerships in action comes from BNP Paribas Securitas Services in Australia. When an engagement survey revealed that line managers and leaders were considered the most highly preferred comms channel, the contrasting reality that manager communication scores were low within the organisation created a worrying gap.
The solution came from IC working in partnership with the Learning & Development (L&D) team to close this gap and achieve the shared goal of improved employee engagement - with IC developing toolkits for managers to use when communicating with their staff, and L&D then bringing these toolkits to life through complementary programs, storytelling and presentation coaching. The partnership was hugely successful and continues to evolve today with the two teams proactively meeting to spot opportunities to share goals and identify a joint strategy. Download and read the full case study here.
From this it’s clear that when solid, highly effective partnerships are formed, their benefits can extend well beyond those originally anticipated, and it’s this type of impact that our new SCM Awards category Internal Partnerships aims to recognise and celebrate.
Start putting your entry together today! There are nine categories open to entry this year and you can find full entry information and downloadable templates online. The entry deadline has been extended to 29 June, so get started today and give yourself the chance to gain some well-deserved recognition for you and your team and prove that when it comes to living one of IC’s core value propositions, you’re at the top of your game.
Last month, Harvard Business Review published results of research into the role of communication when building a successful team, carried out by the Human Dynamics Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The research, which involved teams across a range of professions, produced quantifiable, statistical answers to why seemingly similar teams within an organization can have significant gaps in performance.
As well as proving, with scientific accuracy, what internal communicators have always known – that there is a direct relationship between patterns of communication and team performance – these findings could be revolutionary to the way we, as internal communicators, approach teamwork within an organization.
This research also marks the first time that Internal Communication has been explored scientifically. The data for the study was collected using wearable electronic devices called sociometric badges; worn by individual team members, they measured and recorded the non-verbal features of communication between employees, particularly:
- Speaking speed.
- Tone of voice; how employees speak to each other.
- Body language; physical interaction between conversationists.
- Number of people spoken to.
- Location in which conversations occured.
- Conversation length.
- Physical activity levels during working hours.
What distinguishes MIT's research in this area is the focus on non-verbal communication features as opposed to the more traditionally analyzed conversation content between colleagues. In other words, not what is said but how and how often it's said using vocal features, body motion and relative location as indicators.
For IC, these research findings are invaluable. It is a clear indication that it's not enough to simply be saying the right things as communicators; we must also take the necessary steps to improve the cohesion within our teams.
Lead researcher, Professor Alex "Sandy" Pentland wrote in his article for HBR, that his research team "found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team’s success." Pentland cited communication ability to be just as significant as other factors, including: individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions – combined.
We've established just how important co-operation is to the productivity of a team. However, this information is of limited worth without an accompanying strategy for how to promote such co-operation. Find out how to strengthen the group dynamics within your team with the article Top Tips to building a successful team on the Internal Comms Hub.
Watch the short video clip below for an interview with the man himself, Sandy Pentland from the Human Dynamics Laboratory at MIT. Hear about how he believes sociometric technology looks set to become a permanent feature of Internal Communication in the near future, for whole organizations as well as individual teams; with the real potential for statistical data collection to become part and parcel of IC performance analysis.
Until next time,
by Louise Godwin, Intern, Melcrum
2010 saw the "age of the tablet" with the launch of the first Apple iPad. Since then, android tablets have arguably taken over from PCs and smart phones as the personal mobile-technology device of choice in the corporate world. Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, forecasts worldwide tablet sales to reach 326.3 million by the end of 2015. And out of their top 10 commercial business applications for tablet devices, Gartner listed three uses specifically related to Internal Communication:
- Collaboration applications for meetings.
- File sharing and document distribution.
- Hosted virtual desktop agents.
The increase in corporate tablet usage is reflected in the rapid growth of existing, and rise of new, technological companies dealing specifically in digital solutions and applications to replace the paper handout. Diligent, founded in 2001, is now the global number one Board Portal, providing tablet specific board member services. With increased sales figures from USA$500,000 in 2008 to USA$6 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, Diligent has seen exponential growth in recent years, in line with the "age of the tablet". Since January of this year, their "Board book" application for iPad has been adopted by 20% of the FTSE 100 after being launched for a mere six months (since June 2011).
The recent success of Diligent and other companies, such as Board Vantage and Project Place, demonstrates the rising popularity of tablets in the C-suite. Here are Melcrum’s top advantages and disadvantages to consider regarding tablet usage. Although this does not fall in to the traditional remit of IC, they should be borne in mind ahead of the predicted "tablet takeover" in the boardroom:
Perhaps the most obvious benefit to be had from replacing paper with tablets is the space savings. Virtual board books mean space on the table and fewer distractions during meetings; gone is the irritating rustling of paper and misplaced handouts. And with the advent of cloud computing, documents can be hosted using a web-based software solution for remote access, in any part of the world; thus bringing IC one step closer to the dream of a completely connected global workforce. For busy executives, there is also much to be said for having a portable and lightweight tablet that contains all board papers with the additional wireless functionality for internet access, especially when traveling.
2. Cost savings
Printing costs will be significantly reduced with a move from paper to digital. Less printing also brings environmental benefits; this may be a sticking point for those of you who are trying to promote CSR within your organization.
Tablets present document management capabilities that printed documents simply can’t. Placing documents within cloud technology allows them to be remotely accessed and updated after issue, as well as remotely deleted. This is more significant than ever, with increased numbers of people working from home, and for executives that hold board positions in multiple companies. We have all been in meetings where discussion moves away from the planned agenda, and wireless internet access means that tablets are very good for pulling up on-the-spot statistics, diagrams or info to support a discussion point.
4. Features and software
There are a number of programs/Apps designed for corporate tablet use. iAnnotate for PDF files does exactly what it says on the tin, and can be bought from iTunes. Protaskinote is the app that allows you to handwrite to-do lists using a stylus, then sort, highlight and archive them to your design. While these have more general business uses, BoardEffect and iqBoard are electronic portals specifically designed for secure information sharing between board directors.
Perhaps the major downside to creating virtual "board books" is their vulnerability to access breaches. Physical documentation is much easier to store securely – the risk of sensitive and confidential information being stolen from digital platforms is real, and should be taken seriously. However, just like briefcases containing government-classified information being left on public transport, tablets can be lost or stolen too! And there are ways to protect against security breaches; encryptions, passwords and remote data storage via cloud technology for example.
2. Information overload
Without printing and space constraints, it's easy for board execs to be flooded with unnecessary information; it's so simple to link a website, or email a document attachment, whereas printing requires more forethought and editing. So if you do use tablets for boardmeetings, make sure you are strict with yourself about what is actually important and keep to the point.
Implementing tablets throughout the C-Suite is an expensive undertaking. After the initial costs of buying the devices and software, consistent IT support must be available for directors, many of whom may not be familiar with tablets. Expect these costs to be high; teething problems are a given for such an ambitious project- the transition from paper to screen is a big one.
Relying almost solely on technology and the internet is a risky business. What would happen if the Internet crashed for a day? Or there was a power cut? There must be emergency procedures in place for these kinds of unexpected problems.
With over three quarters of directors now having a positive attitude towards distributing and using board papers in electronic format (Jon Edis Bates, Edis-Bates Associates), internal communicators must move in line with these changes and alter their communication strategies accordingly. And finally, here are some questions to think about after reading this post:
- What changes do you think tablets in the boardroom will represent for internal communication?
- Has your organization successfully implemented the use of iPads or another tablet for board meetings?
- What devices and/or Apps have you considered or used? What issues have arisen or do you foresee?
Until next time,
by Louise Godwin, Intern, Melcrum
The HBR blog network recently posted a short video by Amy Edmondson (see below), Harvard Business School Professor and Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management. The video outlines Edmondson's top five behaviors for how to manage intellectually diverse and geographically dispersed teams through 'teaming'; the activities that comprise collaborative work across boundaries, rather than a stable team structure.
'Diverse and dispersed' team members have became an accepted obstacle for Internal Communicators to navigate in order to head up a successful cross-boundary team. If you are the head of an IC department, listen up! Watch this video for practical information and advice on how to communicate with your global comms team.
Until next time,
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
CEO transition is an inevitable event that Internal Communication has to announce and manage effectively, as AkzoNobel's IC team can testify: they've had to communicate the departure of the chemical and coating company's CEO of 10 years, Hans Wijers, and the arrival of new leader, Ton Büchner, to 55,000 employees in over 80 countries.
The move had been announced internally, and to the public, in July 2011 so the succession wasn't exactly a surprise to employees when it took place last week.
In compiling the IC strategy around this, Julia Hart, Head of Internal Communications at AkzoNobel, decided that video should play a part in the channel mix. "We always wanted to produce a farewell video for Hans and we originally intended it for internal use on our YouTube style platform. It's look-and-feel has been inspired by the film "Final Days" that documented Bill Clinton's last duties during the end of his presidency."
Ultimately, the success of this type of video will depend upon the type of leader, and how willing they are to participate. Luckily for Hart, she had no such issues with Wijers. "Hans has a great feeling for communication and actually had acting experience from his time at university," she said. The filming took place over two days and, even though it had been intended solely for an internal audience, External Communication wanted to use it in their messaging as well – which they did, to tremendous success.
It exploded across the media in Holland (Amsterdam is where AkzoNobel's headquarters is located) featuring in De Standaard and NRC.nl, as well as on television news reports. "News of the video hit over one million Twitter accounts – 1,011,489 according to our technical guys – within four days. This is the total of the people who tweeted it and the number of people who subscribe to their Twitter accounts," said Hart, adding that as Hans Wijers is a popular figure in the Netherlands as former minister of Economic Affairs, this undoubtedly helped provide the movie with some traction externally.
Hart says that the film demonstrates how corporate communciations can be fun and creative yet still have an impact on employee engagement and morale. "If you look at the comments across all the various sites the video is being hosted, they are over-whelmingly positive, with both employees and the public appreciating seeing the emotional, human side of a CEO succession."
Indeed, the video shows new CEO Büchner taking part in the fun alongside Wijers, which was important for Hart as she wanted to demonstrate how there were no hard feelings between the two – and ensure employees that everything was stable within the C-suite.
The video has been subtitled in the eight different languages of AkzoNobel employees and the feedback from the global audience has been equally as positive.
To find out more about CEO succession, read our article: Effective CEO sucession: 8 key questions to answer
Until next time,
At last year's SCM Summit in London, Fiona MacAllan, Group Head of Internal & Change Communication, Corporate Affairs Division at Nationwide Building Society, opened her presentation around the rather controversial topic of "measurement" with a slide reading just two words, "Measurement...yawn...", that was complemented by the befitting sound effect of snoring echoing around the room as delegates took their seats.
Sound about right?
While MacAllan's presentation proceeded to deliver a constructive approach to what remains an ongoing challenge for many of us, I don't doubt that her initial message will have resonated with the majority. And it's hardly surprising. With ongoing change in the scale and scope of the work we do, channels we use, workforces we serve and productivity levels we champion, the challenge of tracking and measuring can easily become overwhelming.
But however dull, daunting and quite frankly, unachievable the prospect of measuring your comms sounds, the fact remains that it needs to be done.
With less money, more cuts and continued streamlining (courtesy of the (often dreaded!) concepts of Lean and Six-Sigma) casting their shadows over organisations once again, being able to demonstrate busines-benefitting ROI (whether it be fiscal, or something more qualitative like a change in employee behaviour or employee engagement scores) is crucial for IC. We MUST be able to prove to ourselves, our teams and our senior leaders, the far-reaching outcomes of the work we do every day and by extension, our worth to the wider business.
Everyone's favourite expert
Angela Sinickas, ABC, President at Sinickas Communications Inc. has dedicated the last thirty years to measuring the effectiveness of IC. Her name is truly synonymous with the subject and in the spirit of any true pioneer, she continues to strive to conquer the challenges of measuring IC in its ever-evolving state.
Sinickas most recently contributed an article "Six key metrics for managing global-local communication" to a research report produced for members of Melcrum's Strategic Communication Research Forum. You can download an extract of the report here.
If you find this useful, why not seize the opportunity to benefit from Sinickas' extensive knowledge first-hand at a specialist workshop for IC professionals "Measurement Works", taking place in London on 12 June? The full course outline is available online.
Can't measure, won't measure?
And finally, if I still haven't managed to convince you to embrace the challenge of measurement, then I suspect that Sinickas' list of "Five good reasons not to measure" will be just what you're looking for!
*Find out more about Melcrum's Strategic Communication Research Forum online by visiting: http://www.melcrum.com/products/research_forum
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
You can find a number of new articles on the Internal Comms Hub, looking at issues ranging from using mobile phones for communication strategy to measuring social media:
- DEBATE: Will mobile change the game for Internal Communication?
- Delivering change across Maersk Line's layered organization
- Subtle ways to measure social media's impact
If there are topics you think we should be covering, and we're not, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
Last week saw Melcrum hold its first ever UK Digital Communication Summit in London that began with an interview style presentation between Paul Miller, CEO and Founder of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum and the Digital Workplace Forum and Victoria Mellor, co-founder and CEO, Melcrum.
During his slot, Miller outlined the future of digital communication as he saw it over the next few years. Here are a few of his top tips, thoughts and opinions, with quotes from his book "The Digital Workplace: How Technology is Liberating Work":
Trend 1: Reshaping office environments
Miller felt that the actual physical aspect of work would change greatly in the future. "Perhaps inevitably, the driving force in the digital workplace has so far been real estate reductions and the reshaping of office environments. The lead times in the physical world are far longer than in the digital, so organizations are trying to assess now what they will need on physical work level five years from now. Will people come to an office? If so, who, when and why?" he asked.
Trends 2: The obstacle of isolation
With more and more people being able to work from home, and being encouraged to do so, there could be psychological impacts that need to be addressed. "From my own experience, the only downside to the portable nature of the digital workplace is a feeling of isolation from colleagues and the organization for which they work. The digital workplace enables, at its best, a consistent experience of work wherever you are, which is great for freedom and flexibility, but the HR challenge is to overcome the loss of the vital human connection that is necessary for productive work," he said.
Trend 3: Digital uniformity
Currently, when they want to access servers, Cloud hosts, emails etc.. employees are faced with an array of potentially clunky log-in stages, that differ depending on where they are trying to access them from: at work or remotely. "We will need to design digital workplaces that flex based on where we are; what we require in order to work successfully in an office is different from what we need for efficient work on a train, in a café or from our home office. Either way, digital workplaces need to offer a consistent and appropriate experience of work," Miller said.
Trend 4: Small workforce, huge financial gain
Following the route of technology giants Facebook and Google, the future of business could potentially see less dependence on people and a higher focus on technology, Miller revealed, stating that such companies are models of a new economy where technology replaces people at frightening levels. "If you visit a modern factory today, you will see very small numbers of human beings in very large spaces. More traditional organizations will increasingly try to emulate the "Google/Facebook model" as digital work drives down the cost of production," he remarked.
Trend 5: Government influence
The Olympics take place in London this summer, and the UK Government has took steps to promote flexible working around this time, which could have far-reaching consequences Miller believes. "Organizations are being required by the Government to change their policies because the digital workplace can take the strain, and these organizations will never look back once the Olympics finish as habits will have been changed."
Trend 6: "A way of being, not just the intranet"
When referring to the digital workplace, Miller pushes the point that it's not just about the intranet. "Telephones, mobile devices, video and audio conferencing, micro-blogging, HR systems, email, customer social media and the wider range of work and technology all make up the digital workplace. Intranets will continue to be essential core service but the digital workplace is not a bigger, better intranet and never will be."
Trend 7: The enablement of global collaboration
Certain technologies have the collaborative capability to ensure that employees can talk to each other at any time from any location. Miller outlined that activities, collaborations and projects are possible in a digital working world that are simply impossible in the physical space. "Organizations will exploit the digital workplace as not just a way to work from home (the least imaginative use of the digital workplace really), but a means to innovate and collaborate in fresh, surprising ways, leading to new services, products and efficiencies."
Trend 8: "Bring your own device"
Employees are usually provided with some kind of tool/uniform when they begin their new job: How will this change in the future? "What will new hires get in the future when they join? Probably nothing but a secure identity and login to a set of Cloud-based services. People will use their existing tablets, phones, laptops and be happy to just 'hook into the corporate system' from them," he said.
Trend 9: Security worries
Organizations that are entering the Cloud and hosting remote workers will have security issues that senior leaders won't be able to ignore, Miller warned. "Big change always comes with problems and, aside from isolation mentioned earlier, the other huge obstacle is security and risk management. If people are increasingly "anywhere", how can the work they do remain secure and not expose the organization to unknown risks and legal dangers? The large technology firms are ploughing investment into security in the digital workplace but anxiety levels at the CEO and other C levels will rise as problems surface and gain attention in the media."
Trend 10: An enabler of innovation
The digital workplace isn't just a more flexible way of working, it's a new way of doing business. Miller revealed he thought a belief would start to develop that the digital workplace was not only a huge area of business in its own right, with new B2B services and sectors, but also that it offered a better, more productive and innovative space in which to work than physical offices. "It will take on a shape and stature of its own and this journey into work/technology – that really began with the telephone – will become an ever richer, more diverse and potent place in which to do business," he concluded.
Do you agree with these trends and, if so, which ones resonate the most with you? Share your opinions in the box below.
Until next time,
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
Attendees were there not just to hear about the logistics of a company's latest platform, but to understand how establishing the correct culture factored into the mix and how new technology helped them achieve their strategic objectives.
Kicking off proceedings was Paul Miller, CEO and Founder of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum and the Digital Workplace Forum, outlining the future, as he sees it, of the digital workplace in an onstage interview with Victoria Mellor, co-founder and CEO, Melcrum.
He said that multi-national companies need to create a level playing field for their global team through the use of up-to-the-minute technology, adapting to employees' needs and expectations. He raised the point that the way we engage these employees is evolving and put forward the idea of engaging them virtually – which he believes communicators must learn how to do effectively. An interesting statistic he provided was that home workers are 30% more productive than those who go to a workplace. (Keep an eye on the Melcrum Blog next week for a more detailed look at what Paul Miller predicts for the future of the digital workplace).
Luis Suarez, Knowledge Manager, Community Builder & Social Software Evangelist, IBM, followed with his presentation focusing on the "BlueIQ" social software adoption program, which aimed to get client-facing employees (such as sales) to collaborate and share knowledge. His key factors to successful adoption include demonstrating success and embedding social software in existing tools and processes. One great ROI example he provided from BlueIQ was where one employee connected with a potential client via a social network and, through this, earned a USA$1.8 million contract. Impressive!
Paul Thomas, Senior Manager, Digital Communications & Social Media, Grant Thornton UK LLP, and Dr Mark K Smith, CEO, iPadio provided a joint presentation where Thomas looked at the digital side of Internal Communication at Grant Thornton and Smith outlined issues that Internal Communication can experience when using video communication, including the fact that user-generated content is cheerful, but not of the highest quality.
Nick Crawford and Hamish Haynes, Head of Internal Communications and Engagement, Bupa Health & Wellbeing, discussed BupaLive, the organization's internal platform and how it helps connect the global workforce. Haynes believes that communicators need to find a balance between "freedom and control, social chat and business chat, and trust and governance," when introducing and maintaining a social network.
Rounding off the first day, Dr Andy Brown, CEO of the Engage Group, focused on what organizations need to do before attempting to implement a collaborative environment. He outlined a couple of potential desired outcomes for collaboration such as improving business performance as well as increasing employee engagement and efficiency. He added that, in his opinion, leaders are the biggest drivers of collaboration.
The second day began with Laurie Hibbs, HR Director, LexisNexis showcasing how he used Yammer to connect his workforce, providing some interesting facts and stats. For example, out of all types of worker at the company, the technical legal sector were found to use Yammer the most and LexisNexis has actually stopped corporate communication by email and intranet; instead they provide links to Yammer for announcements. He also invented an alter ego profile "The Phantom" on the network to provide an anonymous route for employees to post questions to senior leaders.
Next, Felix Escribano, Manager Collaboration & Knowledge Management, the adidas Group, shared his experience on building collaboration inside a competitive workforce. He showed his socal media guidelines, where he made innovative use of cartoon characters (see here for more details) and revealed how adidas has wikis and blogs, but no centralized intranet. An interesting point he made was that, when an employee has a conversation and asks someone a question by email, the exchange is hidden, but when they ask the same question via a social network, it's open and they can take advantage of the collective wisdom of the network and everyone learns – not just the original sender.
Tim Passingham, Vice President, EMEA, BT Conferencing, and Greg Holt, Sales Director, EMEA, Kontiki, revealed how BT are using video to maximise intranet impact. Holt drilled home the point that stakeholders will want to use video in different ways, and that communicators need to provide an environment for this. He also added that the four key components that are a necessity for video to impact employee engagement were quality content, quality delivery, executive sponsorship and measurement, and that the optimum length for an internal video is no more than four minutes – if you need longer, make it a series. Passingham said that the internal "YouTube" channel at BT was used for sharing and training, and business benefits of video conferencing included a 50% reduction in event organisation time.
Closing the Summit was James Nas, Head of Internal Channels & Social Media, Nokia, who revealed how the introduction of Socialcast, the company's internal Facebook, led to the removal of a large number of pre-existing social networks – influenced by Twitter, he combined all content and messages into one stream.
To find out more about what went on during the event, read through the #melcrumdcs feed on Twitter. The Digital Communication Summit is a global series of events, with up-coming dates in the USA and Australia.
Until next time,
Yes, you read that right - we just couldn’t cram them all into 10! So if you haven’t registered yet, here’s 11 reasons to convince you and your boss why you really can’t afford to miss our upcoming event, taking place in London on 27-28 March!
1. The Olympics are around the corner…
…and organisations are putting provisions in place to cope with anticipated workforce disruption – with O2 even having recently piloted a head office shut down to some 3,000 employees – and the need to make social software work to deliver collaboration-driven business benefits is more immediate than ever before. By planning now, you can ensure all your employees will have access to the tools, technology and support they’ll need to work effectively from remote locations when the Olympic chaos takes hold.
2. The need to drive for productivity is here to stay
The need to drive for productivity was identified in our Future for Internal Communication research report (2011), as a trend set to shape the IC landscape for the next 3-5 years. With workforces becoming increasingly diverse and geographically spread than ever before, and internal pools of expertise in turn also dispersed - this need is very real.
3. Discover what you need to know for 2012
In 2010 Paul Miller, CEO & founder of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum and Digital Workplace Forum made predictions about the future for the digital workplace in 2011 – many of which played out over the following 12 months.
Paul’s opening session at our upcoming Summit presents a vital opportunity for you to not only hear from him firsthand about how the digital workplace is set to evolve in 2012, but what you, as a communicator, need to know to make provisions and construct a communication strategy that’s sustainable for the year ahead.
4. IC is integral to driving necessary changes
While the majority of us already have social technology in place, we simply aren’t seeing the collaborative-driven business outcomes of these tools - and it’s up to us as communicators to change this.
The creation of an optimal collaborative environment involves structural and cultural shifts to create more ”fluidity”, a new style of leadership, breakdown of departmental silos, a redefinition of the way we view and interact in a corporate environment and the formation of closely aligned partnerships between IC and key business functions – no mean feat!
5. Don’t be the only one to miss out
We’ve got professionals from market-leading organisations joining us including Ikea, HSBC, Axa UK, Linklaters, E.ON, Tetra Pak, McCain, Rio Tinto, Standard Life, and Thomson Reuters. They’re making it a priority and demonstrating their commitment to enabling employee collaboration - shouldn’t you be doing the same?
6. Brightest minds under one roof
We’ve gathered together pioneers from a diverse range of industries such as the adidas Group, IBM, LexisNexis UK, Nokia, Bupa and BT Conferencing to share their inspiring and innovative case studies over two days dedicated to exploring and understanding how communicators can unlock collaborative potential in their organisations - ensuring that you return to the office motivated and confident in your knowledge and ability to lead the change.
7. A "Collaboration Compendium" to forming powerful partnerships
On day one, you’ll get involved in an interactive session with fellow delegates where you’ll discuss, debate and benchmark around hints, tips and key diagnostic questions to ask business partners in order to most effectively work with them to enable successful employee collaboration.
8. Focused discussion around your key challenges
We’ll be using interactive voting technology on day one to surface your biggest areas of concern and interest which will then determine the topics of our roundtable discussions on day two, providing you with an invaluable opportunity for topical peer-to-peer discussion.
9. Trusted by many
We’re proud to have over 15 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies under our belt, and as we continue to be the trusted source of advice for senior level communicators at Global Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 largest organisations, you can rest assured that you’ll be in expert hands at a Melcrum event.
10. All angles covered
Time out of the office is hard to come by and we’re aware of this. That’s why if you look at our agenda, you’ll see that we’ve packed into just two days, a multitude of key topics; from increasing productivity and efficiencies, supporting global communication and engagement to leveraging internal pools of expertise, increasing leadership visibility and transforming behaviours.
11. Benchmark, network and establish career-long connections with those facing the same challenges as you. A problem shared is a problem halved, especially when it’s likely those you’re connecting with will have solutions to the very same challenges you’re up against, so save yourself reinventing the wheel and join the conversation!
With all of the above from just two days out of the office – the business case for your attendance and ROI is evident.
Visit the event site to view the full agenda and book your place: http://bit.ly/yQmFx3
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
Melcrum's very own Research & Content Director, Asia Pacific, Jonathan Champ will be offering nuggets of wisdom around "Using Communication Techniques to Support Business Performance and Business Strategy in a Two-speed Economy" during his talk for the virtual Worth Working Summit 2012 running 12-16 March.
In his pre-recorded presentation, he will focus on the top challenges currently facing professional communicators including understanding how to support business performance and strategy. Jonathan will also look at how leading Australian companies have adjusted to the global downturn by taking a constructive view of recruitment, retention and engagement. He believes these factors remain critical in any market condition, and communication is shown to have a key role in this.
During his interview, Jonathan also explains why organizations are shifting away from the cult of celebrity CEO and, instead, involving employees in deciding vision, values and purpose. He also gives insight into the emerging role of line managers in creating authenticity and context for their teams, and the different set of skills they need to do so. He believes that this direct manager relationship is critical during times of economic difficulty in order to support the "why" of change, cutbacks and downsizing.
Jonathan is among a dozen business leaders, speakers and consultants speaking during the event. He is joined by William Trout, Director, Wealth Management Product & Segment Development, BBVA Compass; speaker and author David Zinger; Derek Appiah, Director, Business Solutions, Vodafone Ghana; Debra Covey, Vice-President Customer Experience, Alcatel-Lucent; internet scout Thomas Power; Neil Forster, Head of Technology and Innovation, New Zealand Post; Professor Nicholas Ind; Gen Y entrepreneur Monique Collman, Gen Y panel Aphra Cheesman and Luke Parle; and summit host Jo Ann Sweeney.
Those wishing to take part can sign up here. You’ll then be able to listen to each interview free-of-charge and connect in advance with the speakers and other summit participants. As it's a virtual summit, you can listen via the internet or phone at any point.
Until next time,
by Luke Dodd, Features Editor, Melcrum
You can find a number of new articles on the Internal Comms Hub, looking at topics ranging from creating brand advocates to inter-generational collaboration:
- Creating brand advocates at Westpac
- Innovating leadership communication: an internal agency approach
- TOP TIPS: Three ways to measure your corporate culture
- POLL: Inter-generational collaboration is a challenge for three-quarters of organizations
If there are topics you think we should be covering, contact me on email@example.com.
Until next time,
In February last year, Thierry Breton, CEO and chairman of Atos Origin, an international IT services company employing staff across 42 countries, announced his mission to ban internal email, with the intention of becoming a "zero email" company by 2014.
Unsurprisingly his declaration caused a media stir and also received some backlash, but Breton defended his decision, saying:
"I didn’t do this for external reasons…I did it to enhance the quality of working conditions for Atos’ 80,000 employees…my first intention was to deal with this data deluge and to work with the tools the young generation are using. We are addressing a real issue of our time…we are no longer using email the way it was intended to be used"
His decision was also made in light of the revelation that employees were receiving over 100 emails a day, of which only 15% were useful, and also upon consideration of the fact that for the 10,000 new employees hired every year, internal email tools such as Outlook were completely unfamiliar, with Breton stating, "We have to adapt ourselves to this new generation that will become our business colleagues tomorrow."
As radical as the idea may sound...
...it perhaps isn’t when you fully consider that it’s a positive step towards what we’re all trying to achieve - i.e. transforming the internal comms model and becoming a social business. And whether you realise it or not, most of us have already taken these steps in our implementation of digital tools.
What we haven’t done however, is fully allowed the potential of these tools to take hold and deliver the collaboration-driven business benefits they’re capable of.
So while we have the tools in place which hold the potential to increase efficiencies, reduce reliance on email and ultimately drive productivity – our failure to educate employees as to how it can be used, failure to generate the required culture shift that encourages more "fluid" communication and a failure to engage leaders to lead by example and influence – are all pivotal reasons why "business-benefitting collaboration" is simply not happening.
IBM – where it all began?
While Breton’s decision was the most highly publicised, IBM’s BlueIQ team* - namely one member of the core team, Luis Suarez, knowledge manager, community builder & social software evangelist - could be considered as leading the charge, having decided back in 2008 to start living in a world without email.
"As a remote employee, I wanted to prove to everyone that I could keep working for the company without using email, relying almost exclusively on social software tools to communicate daily with my team members."
And in January 2011, just three years on, Suarez reported an impressive 95% reduction in inbox traffic.
Why live without email?
"Around two and a half years ago in my role of software evangelism, one of the main hurdles we were hearing from people is … they perceive this software as another set of tools on top of what they were already using…they had this feeling that, you’re asking me to spend more time online with Twitter, Facebook and whatever the internal social software applications were."
As well as wanting to demonstrate to coworkers just how dependent they were on email (despite its loss of productivity as a channel), Suarez’ decision was also triggered in 2008 when IBM’s Blue IQ team were faced with the challenge of educating an overwhelmed and reluctant salesforce to use the social tools that were available to them to provide "answers" rather than "problems" (with the potential to benefit them in completing daily tasks and increase efficiencies). The initiative was a success and transformed IBM’s salesforce into fellow social software evangelists. Not only that, the Blue IQ team continues to expand with the ultimate aim of enterprise-wide social collaboration inside and outside of IBM that drives real business results.
Enabling crucial conversations
Suarez will be sharing his story at our first-ever Digital Communication Summit in London on 27-28 March, 2012, where we’ll be addressing the role of technology in enabling crucial conversations to build an engaged and collaborative workforce, and the fundamental role communicators play in leading the transformation across culture and leadership to create a truly social business that reaps the benefits of outcome-driven collaboration.
Joining him will be thought leaders such as Paul Miller, CEO and founder of the Intranet Benchmarking Forum and Digital Workplace Forum and Laurie Hibbs, HR director at LexisNexis UK as well as business leaders from companies including BT Conferencing, Nokia, Bupa and the adidas Group who will be sharing their powerful case studies.
Check out the full event programme online: http://bit.ly/yipJEj
*IBM’S BlueIQ Ambassador Programme - A worldwide community of social software evangelists with a mission to energize and enable every IBM employee to use social software, both internally and externally. The BlueIQ ambassadors support the BlueIQ program’s mission to transform IBM into a showcase for the business benefits of social software adoption.