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Keynote: Enabling Social Networking through and Enterprise Intranet - Lessons Learned


This final presentation of the day is by Jason Harrison, CIO of IPG Mediabrands. Mediabrands, a part of Interpublic companies, a global media communications agency with $15.8B in annual billings and has 2700 employees across 50+ markets and service such global brands as Bacardi and Johnson&Johnson.

They were faced with the need to deal with fast-changing media environments, working with a highly distributed employee-base, that has many silos of thinking and experiences. The goal then was to improve communication and collaboration utilizing Web 2.0 functionality all within their corporate intranet.

As Mediabrands considered the opportunity, they established specific goals to better collect and distribute useful knowledge across the organization, ideally transforming their corporate culture similar to how Web 2.0 was changing the public's consumption of information and expand knowledge-sharing.

The infrastructure was built on a Microsoft Sharepoint (MOSS) environment, with an architecture that reflected much of the user experience found on public social networks today. This allowed them to incorporate external syndicated content as well as internally produced content. It also allowed them to create a repository of available content through meta-tags to track a content cloud of subject matters being 'discussed' internally. This in turn provided them with an expanded reporting environment to understand all aspects of usage on the site.

The results for them based on a small upfront investment budget to build the infrastructure has resulted in enhanced collaboration and communication, with increased visibility, while leveraging key content, resulting in better client service on global accounts.

But while the results were extensive, lessons learned included that while the technology is very advanced for their expectations, such an implementation should not be 'led' by the technology, because it cannot help to 'engineer' a community. A significant issue they dealt with was that employees didn't want to maintain multiple profiles. They found that smaller markets were more likely to collaborate and take advantage where other internal resources are scarce to them. Ultimately, overall innovation is always difficult to implement internally, but the goal of changing corporate culture can be amazingly difficulty and require far more attention and time than simply launching such a powerful internal tool.

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1 comment:

Daniella said...

I am curious as to what is meant by the implementation should not be led by the technology. Are we saying that the owner should not be IT? If so, whom should own the enterprise network? Or are you saying the technology should not be the selling point? Having a clearly defined WIIFM for key stakeholders is paramount. We struggle with creating that tipping point for employees such that they integrate this into their daily business rhythms. Curious how they got around the fact that employees didn't want to maintain multiple profiles. We too have many disparate systems that ask for employee profile information.

This company sounds very similar to ours in the fact that the culture is our main roadblock for adoption. Transitioning the culture from a need to know to a need to share and explaining to employees that this is not an add on to their work rather a supplement has been very challenging. I am curious to hear what kinds of culture adoption strategies proved successful for them.