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Alerts about free food in the kitchen and other signs enterprise social tools are a hit

Enterprise 2.0 Conference roundup: Corporate users of social network tools going far beyond Facebook, Twitter

By , Network World
June 19, 2012 06:17 PM ET

Network World - BOSTON -- About 18 months ago Nathan Bricklin saw some gaps in the internal processes of Wells Fargo's wholesale business unit where he worked running the Web portal for the bank's major corporate accounts.

"We have many lines of business within wholesale and many were working in their own way," he says. The dreaded "silos" of an enterprise corporate structure had developed, leading to duplication of effort and no unified policy for encouraging employees to work with one another. It took a "90 second conversation," he says, to convince senior-level managers to implement an internal social collaboration strategy. It started with 350 users and four use cases; today, it's grown to 4,100 users and 90 use cases. That's still a fraction of the company's 265,000 workers, but he says it's a start.

At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston this week, Bricklin, now SVP and head of social strategy at Wells Fargo, was one of a handful of enterprise social media enthusiasts who shared their user stories about the growing field of enterprise collaboration tools. One overarching theme representatives from companies like Nike, American Airlines, FedEx and Virgin Media echoed was their use of social collaboration tools for more than just managing a Facebook or Twitter account: Collaboration tools are about driving more efficient internal business process and extending the reach and user experience of external customer engagements.

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The end-game, says Wells Fargo collaboration strategist Kelli Carlson-Jagersma, is to improve customer service. "We're here to solve the customers' needs," she says. "These internal tools will help us do our customer-facing jobs." For example, when a client calls up for customer service, the Wells Fargo representative may be linked into one of the Jive social collaboration tools giving them direct access to other lines of the business and other experts who can help the employee assist the customer. It's about giving "the right people the right information at the right time," she says.

For Wells Fargo, the technology investments have not been massive to implement the strategy. The company uses a combination of social collaboration tool offerings, including Jive Engage and Salesforce.com's Chatter. Some new staff have been hired from within to guide the effort.

The bigger changes for adopting such technology, show speakers say, is around getting end user buy-in.

Nike, the athletic apparel firm, has gone from a "live and learn" approach to its social media strategy where employees were using social media tools on their own, to "purposeful management" of collaboration tools, says Richard Foo, who is heading up the company's efforts. The key to getting buy-in, he says, is creating compelling reasons for employees to want to change their processes. "Make their jobs easier," he says. Answer the question for the users: "What's the value for me?" From a company perspective, the value is in increased collaboration.

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