Continuing from our definition of social business, this post will introduce look at 3 brief case studies of multinational companies that have successfully adopted social business.
As part of the 2.0 Adoption Council, IBM (in association with MIT Center for Digital Business and the Dachis Group) has published a series of case studies demonstrating integrated social business. Here is a summary of three of the largest:
The French multinational has 70,000 employees across 70 countries – giving great collaboration potential, but the formation was fragmented due to growth through acquisitions and mergers.
The Alstom University focused on their people and process before considering technology. Running a series of pilot communities allowed them to receive executive buy-in, which promoted adoption by employees. Awareness about the community platforms and collaboration tools was achieved by a video shown at company events, and education was provided through an e-learning programme.
By taking this people-centric approach Alstom succeeded in creating a collaborative culture throughout the company, where the social tools were treated as a means instead of an end, and collaboration was not relegated to being used only virtually.
In an organisation as large as IBM (nearly 400,000 employees worldwide), initiating change requires advocates.
IBM’s initial aim was to develop social collaboration for the IBM sales team, but their long term aim was to roll this out to the entire business. In IBM’s case a pool of 50 enthusiasts grew to 250 within six months, and was over 1,300 within a year.
An important part of IBM’s approach was to highlight the benefits of collaboration to its employees through blogging and sharing content. The aim to “evangelize everyone” and promote understanding of the benefits has been reinforced with top-down encouragement, with IBM CEO and President Sam Palmisano encouraging all IBM staff to use social collaboration in their day to day work.
With almost 60,000 employees and an autonomous culture, Nokia found that social media tools were being used independently of each other and social media silos existed throughout the business. The challenge was for Nokia to harness these individual networks into one collaborative social business strategy.
The success hinged on executive support, which granted two internal pilots to take place in the business. The micro-blogging pilot has already seen success, and a crowd-sourcing pilot has even resulted in a change to the company culture. One key benefit was a boost to employee morale – the feeling that they are being listened to and the potential for recognition of their ideas has given the company a “feeling of connectedness”.
It’s essential for buy-in from an executive level in order for a large company to become a social business. It’s also important to remember that technology should only enter the equation after considering the people who will be using it. These mini case studies show the strength of social business in terms of scale.
As all these examples are technology companies – it could be argued that they could integrate social business more naturally. In the next post of this series, we’ll look at companies who are already using social media and should be thinking about taking it further – if you have any suggested examples please do leave a comment below.