Back on 12 May, Marc Wright of Simply Communicate kindly invited us to join in the latest version of his Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise London Workshops. The new format has 4 time slots each with 3 choices of workshop, so you could attend 4 out of 12. They covered a varied set of topics and case studies aimed at giving practical advice and helping large organisations in their journey with internal social collaboration and social media communications. Speakers included our good friends Luis Suarez on adoption (and adaptation) of these tools, Faith Forster talking about her product Pinipa and making projects more engaging, and Michel Ezran over from France to present the latest version of Lecko’s annual research report analysing what is the best collaboration & social toolset. This is the second year we’ve partnered with Lecko to extend their research in to the UK and make their report more International. There was an interesting mix of sponsors, a good venue, good food, and enough time between sessions to catch up with friends and do some networking. One important aspect – some good bean to cup coffee machines were on hand to put this a cut above the average event on caffeine delivery!
The content was a mixed bag – some very good sessions, and some not so. There are some key themes that we noticed aggregating what we gleaned from the various talks:
- The increasing importance of tackling mobile, but the the solutions aren’t fully there yet
- Tensions and differences in approach between out of the box solutions and the bespoke developed enterprise social networks
- A difference in mindset between those companies that are using Sharepoint at the heart of their office infrastructure, and those that aren’t
- The importance of linking collaboration to legacy systems and business process.
One other strand from various discussions at the event – quite a number of organisations are using Yammer but reckoning they are having problems with adoption. Something to explore later, and I see Marc has already promoted a simply yammer workshop to address that issue.
Some of the sessions used the MeeToo app on your smartphone for real time polling and chat. I didn’t see much use by anybody of the messaging, but bringing in the poling to some sessions was a good addition to making things more interactive. A note to self on this – if you do this kind of Q&A poll, make sure you’ve thought through the answer options fully.
We Are Social ESN case study
I watched Peter Furtado of Simply Succeed and Emma Cumming of We Are Social talk through the launch of their SHIP enterprise social network (ESN). We Are Social are a great story of a UK social media marketing agency startup. Founded by 2 people in 2008, they now have over 600 people across 8 countries and count major brands like Adidas as their customers (We Are Social were responsible for their #bethedifference campaign). Emma told us they weren’t practicing what they preach and using social media consistently internally. Skype was their first client and they use Skype a lot themselves, but they had siloed groups, and knew that knowledge was getting lost, never to be found again. They put together a steering group for governance, and set up a virtual task force of about 10% of the company to make a new approach work. It was the task force who decided on a name for their ESN, chose a particular platform, and put together a plan for launching it across the company. They called the network The SHIP which comes from the company’s core culture and values – social, honest, inspiring, passionate. They put together a fun home page and a whole set of launch material using ship and nautical themes to tease people before the launch, and then encourage people to join in – using the kind of ideas they usually sell to customers, but on themselves – an excellent story. The SHIP network has groups, activity feeds and great search capabilities. During the launch phase they emphasised the importance of people completing their profile, adding a proper avatar photo, and adding their skills and languages. Finding native language speakers to help on projects is now much, much easier across the company. Emma said they have 631 people on the SHIP and on average 80% of those access it once a week. 30% of those are engaging every week, with 15% contributing – those are good numbers. They use it to generate ideas for a new brief, to work on projects, to communicate across the organisation. One of the founders, Robin, got actively involved in the launch and early adoption and it’s clear that commitment and leadership from the top is a factor in making this kind of network successful. That means you have to sell the value to top management to get them involved early on. One of the unusual things they did at launch was to use targeted Facebook advertising, selecting for people who said they worked at We Are Social – I think thats a very neat, cost effective idea. Peter Furtado, who was called in to help them launch, talked about the Simply Suceed approach of putting 60% in to planning and identifying the business case, 25% in to planning the launch and the rest of your time and resource in to drive adoption within the community. The particular social business platform We Are Social used was Telligent (formerly Zimbra) with custom development from an outfit called 4 Roads to get the look and feel they wanted, integration with Google Drive and the like.
OOTB platform for SharePoint & Wiggle ESN case study
Next I was off to see Martin Perks and Hannah Unsworth of BrightStarr. They are an experienced SharePoint developer and consultancy who have developed an out of the box ESN solution that sits on top of SharePoint called Unily. There are an increasing number of this kind of platform within the Microsoft ecosystem. Martin talked of the rise of the platform approach. In the past there might be a 24 month project to develop and launch an Intranet. In today’s environment we just can’t wait that long, our business might have changed completely in that timeframe. Added to that we are inundated with choices for sharing content, sharing documents, or different ways of instant messaging. He talked about pressure on the bottom line to get results, and the rise of mobile and the smartphone. He talked of custom IT projects being dead, team sizes having halved, and a significant decrease in a solely IT-led approach. He suggested build time has dropped by 79% in 5 year and that 80% of companies have the same requirements for an internal social network in any case. Hence the creation of an “out of the box” solution, branded as Unily and already an award winner (their customer DORMA was one of Nielsen Norman’s 10 Intranet Design Annual Award winners of 2016). Martin suggested budget is still with IT and not internal communications and so there can be a battle of wills where nobody knows where the Intranet project sits. Actually that is because it needs to be owned by everyone, and not just by IT or Comms. Brightstarr’s Unily supports this approach by creating an easy to use digital workplace with all of the required ingredients to help employees connect, collaborate and be more productive in their jobs. It provides a staff centric view to show that person the news that’s relevant to them and where they can contribute. Martin talked about mapping the requirements of communication, productivity, collaboration, knowledge, (and importantly) value over time. He agreed that it’s not just about technology and that the project has to be maintained, managed and led properly. Hannah talked about an agile approach and 4 week sprints developing the functionality. I found it interesting that the language and terminology leans towards the world of the programmer. They talked in terms getting things done in weeks not months and then introduced a customer to tell his story. Panos Mitsikis talked about implementing Unily at Wiggle. Interestingly, he described himself as a SharePoint developer. Wiggle, is a sports retailer, started back in ’99, who focus on triathlon – cycling, swimming and running. They outgrew an Intranet based on WordPress and realised that were spending too much time inside email communication. They needed a one stop for consuming information for each employee to surface what they care about. There are just under 500 Wigglers, as they call themselves and on a bad day, only 80% of them use the new ESN. It’s been designed to be employee centric, giving them important news, announcements, and videos with the aim of empowering them. It highlights trending documents, and they host events, or highlight sponsors They wanted an easy way for everything to be in one place, and so all the most commonly used apps are on a single page. It helps them form teams, manage projects, build communities, or follow external sites and blogs. So far they have around 45 project sites and every department has its own community. putting the site together took 4.5 weeks from start to finish with just Panos and plus two experts from Brightstarr. They suggested that you shouldn’t be so precious about your requirements, and with this speed of implementation and success I can see why. They’ve decentralised content management and they suggested that Uniliy makes it much easier than vanilla SharePoint for creating that new content. The CEO was project sponsor and that was another key to success. The system handles multiple languages, supports everything Microsoft Office365 supports. You access Yammer from a social tab so you don’t even have to leave the platform to use that too. They carried out an aggressive campaign over a 3-4 week period to get everyone on board. Because Unily is provided as a Cloud based SaaS solution, it came with features Panos didn’t even think about, and Panos didn’t need any IT involvement to get it off the ground.
@ELSUA on Adoption/Adaptation
After lunch I joined the Luis Suarez session on adoption, or rather adaptation of social collaboration tools. Luis was relating his long experience in this field from his time in knowledge management, famously living inside IBM without email, and most recently as one of the best independent consultants in the social business space. He talked about identifying the business problems, making sure you have a governance model in place (that should be guidelines, not rules) and building a solid library of use cases. He talked of the importance of enabling your early adopters so that they can be effective champions and change agents. He offered ideas around education and enablement. A regular theme in any of Luis’s talks is highlights how 87% of the workforce is disengaged, and in this session he quoted figures country by country with the surprising fact that Costa Rica has the most engaged employees! On governance he told the story of the IBM Social Computing Guidelines, created in 2005 by employees on a wiki page – actually it was the prolific bloggers who, in 2 weeks, created something that was subsequently checked by IBM communications and legal but not changed. That 2005 set of guidelines became the blueprint for many of us! He talked about working out loud, and leading by example. About removing “reply all” and attachments from the mess of email and content trapped in the inbox. About asking open questions and shifting the mindset from knowledge is power. He believes finding experts in your organisation is the number one use case! He suggested we need to become people centric organizations, not document centric. He worried about the need to nurture early adopters because so often we don’t have budget to do it properly, so we need to crowdsource the help. He talked of giving them a sense of purpose to help them transform the way people work. He explained how he believes the narrative matters and his dislike for the term community manager, preferring to use facilitator. His final tip was:
“Get started! Stop thinking, start doing! (today!)”
The importance of Company Culture & EY case study
For the final segment I chose Lawrence Clarke, one of the founders of Simply Succeed, with Steve Perry, EY Community Implementation Leader. They were using EY as a case study and talking about how your social intranet holds up a mirror to your business culture. How your business culture ends up defining the ambitions of your social intranet. Steve talked through what they were trying to achieve with EY’s collaboration community in terms of understanding, engagement, satisfaction, recognition and openness. He talked about the levels of culture and artefacts in terms of the organisational language being used, the physical structures and decor of the places and the stories, ceremonies and rituals. Lawrence used the Zappos culture book as an example. Zappos is the successful online shoe retailer, acquired by Amazon in 2009 although it still operates independently. I have to agree that they are a great example in this context as their early investor, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) who subsequently became their CEO says:
“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”
Lawrence went on to spend some time talking about their shift to holacracy as an organisational structure. Actually I believe that’s a distraction, as it’s well known they are having problems with it, and anyway their core culture that created their success was in place well before that shift in management approach. He talked about the most important elements in managing culture being what leaders pay attention to, how they react to crises, how they allocate rewards and how they hire and fire individuals. Steve talked about the importance of how people are recognised and incentivised, how the rewards systems is created, and how visible and effective people are. He highlighted some of the issues around ensuring metrics that can’t be gamed wth an example where people were renaming documents to post them 10 times to improve their contribution statistics. You have to think through the behaviours you will trigger. They finished with an interesting contrast of the culture of Regus, the serviced and virtual office company, versus a startup competitor coming along to disrupt them called NearDesk. They pointed us to Regus Sucks, a review website created by angry ex-regus customers, along with employee reviews for Regus on GlassDoor. NearDesk is being crowdfunded as a pure digital business many of the 500 investors are customers. We’ll watch the progress of these two with interest.
So a good event, some good case studies, and the new format seemed to work well. We’ll be blogging some more about our key take aways and conclusions, and looking forward to doing more wth our friends at Simply Succeed & Simply Communicate.
BrightStarr session photo courtesy of a Bastien Le Lann tweet
(Cross-posted @ Agile Elephant)