There were a lot of great takeaways from the Social Media World Forum in London this year. Given my interest in enterprise social networking, I paid special attention to the Social Business track.
The track was moderated by chairman of Ecademy Thomas Power, who BTW has 730 recommendations on Linkedin, a well-earned reputation appropriate for a social media conference. Panelists–B2B marketers, social media managers, adoption strategists, information systems analysts and more–talked about how enterprise social is improving their business from the inside out.
Andrew Burke, EIS analyst from the global food company Heinz, talked about how they are using enterprise social to “replicate some of the external communities internally,” to improve communication with their customers on their external social channels. He suggested organizations “allow people to have those discussions internally before opening them up to conversations externally.”
“We’re looking at how employees can use social tools in their day-to-day life,” Burke said. Referring to enterprise social, he said, “It cuts down training. You can get them on the tools far faster.”
Andrew Barendrecht, collaboration strategist for the oil and energy company Apache Corp., had similar views. He said, “I see social as a pure acceleration of traditional communication. Before, it would take us time to train everyone on where to go, now we’re not wasting time on the training.”
As for Apache’s adoption of their enterprise social network, Barendrecht said, “More than half of the organization is engaged in enterprise social. It took us about a year.”
With more than 50 percent adoption, Powers asked how long it takes them to train employees on how to use their enterprise social network. Barendrecht answered, “We spend 10 minutes with them.”
Powers, astounded, repeated back, “4,000 people got 10 minutes of training!” Just more proof, enterprise social doesn’t take much investment in training.
Barendrecht also elaborated on how Apache’s drilling communities use enterprise social to collaborate on ways to solve equipment failures and cut trouble costs. “Executives are on board with it,” Barendrecht said. “Especially if it means $250,000 saved in one day of work.”
Along with cutting trouble costs, enterprise social also decreases the amount of time it takes to on-board new employees, adoption strategist Lars Plougmann explained. “We have a vibrant community,” Plougmann said. “If you want to know what’s going on at TIBCO you have to be on tibbr. … When I was a new employee, it boost my on-boarding. Six weeks to get on board at the company.”
“That’s amazing that you can on-board employees in six weeks,” Powers said. “They generally say it takes nine months for employees to adjust to a company.”
When asked how to engage senior management for using enterprise social, Plougmann responded, “It’s very important to communicate why you’re investing in that central platform. Is it to drive collaboration? To break down silos? … Nudge people to the most valuable way of using it.”
Burke said Heinz also emphasized the value of enterprise social to their employees. After having an extensive pilot, they “went around to different departments and highlighted why it worked. Then we got a bunch of senior management involved. … It was easy for them to learn right away.”
One of the final questions asked how middle management can adopt to using enterprise social when they already feel that they are working at 100 percent capacity. “This discussion has been going on before social collaboration,” Barendrecht said. “A problem shared is a problem halved. With people sharing around the world you actually become more efficient. You learn from each other. You solve problems faster.”