By Gloria Lombardi

“If we have digitally transformed how we work, why does the average worker still spend 28% of their time managing e-mail and 20% looking for internal information or colleagues? Why is it that 65% of a sales’ representative’s time is still not spent selling? And, why do 43% of companies still not have complete information on suppliers?”

Giovanna Enea, Senior Product Manager, Enterprise Social Software at SAP AG, was one of the over 25 pioneers and leaders in platform management and communication facilitation, who shared their experiences at the Social Business Collaboration 2014 conference in Berlin this week.

Enea’s presentation centred on ‘the next phase of social collaboration: finding patterns.’ According to her, companies are struggling to find their patterns because “processes are ad hoc, systems are fragmented, data creates chaos and expertise networks are disconnected.” As she put it, “we simply copied the analog world.”

However, digital transformation is redefining entire industries and the very notion of what we know as products today. As such, she suggested focusing on three intertwined levers: the digital workplace (operational transformation), the digital customers and partners networks (ecosystem transformation), and the differentiated digital value proposition (industry transformation).

This view of the entire business network is the core of SAP Jam, the social platform where SAP employees collaborate with customers and partners in online groups upon invitation.

Connecting beyond the firewall…

Confirming that collaborating internally with employees and externally with customers, suppliers, and business partners is perhaps the only way to thrive in today’s social business environment was the talk by Barbara Koch, IBM’s Leader Social Business.

Their new social platform, called IBM Connections 5, has been built to let organisations host both internal and external communities. Its promise is to deliver value in areas such as innovation, expertise and knowledge, customer engagement, mergers and acquisitions, workplace and public safety, supply chain, as well as recruiting and onboarding.

A good example of its use comes from Robinson Club. The holiday company uses the IBM Connections 5 the share knowledge of seasonal workforce and keep it within the organisations once they leave; consequently helping the business to improve club guest satisfaction in the long term. For example, seasonal staff contribute to a blog on good practices, suggesting how to improve the quality of service to specific guests. Among other key benefits experienced since adopting the tool, are the fast enablement of new employees, simpler forwarding of information as well as the saving in license, administration and management costs (initially the communications were handled via email, which was too expensive for seasonal workforce and required too much effort).

Knowledge cockpit

With the desire of learning more about how McKinsey & Company have been approaching social collaboration, I opted for a session from Karsten Hofmann, their Director of Knowledge Performance Management.

The firm have been using different approaches and tools to access and manage the business value of knowledge. These include dashboards that make important metrics available to monitor progress, annual knowledge management performance and health assessments to compile relevant quantitative and qualitative data for strategic direct setting, as well as internal and external surveys to capture the users’ perceptions.

In addition, they decided to invest in a Knowledge Cockpit “to provide practices with metrics to enable continuous improvement.”

Launched last year in August, the tool helps knowledge leaders to identify trends and merging issues early on “by providing one-stop-access to core knowledge metrics.”

The Knowledge Cockpit reports quarterly on 20 metrics selected as currently the best indicators for knowledge performance via multiple expert practitioner conversations. It considers metrics at the firm’s level in terms of the goal, and correlates this to what is actually happening at peer level in real practice. To build the capability, “in a first step we articulated the dimensions and key questions that leaders seek to understand along the flow of knowledge.” These were positioned along the knowledge value chain:

Building distinctive knowledge and capabilities:

  • How much do we invest in knowledge?
  • Do we deploy our people on priority knowledge efforts?
  • How well do we prioritize our knowledge agenda?
  • Do we codify knowledge?
  • Do we have relevant proprietary knowledge assets?

Managing and sharing internally:

  • Do we keep our knowledge up-to-date?
  • Can users quickly find relevant knowledge and experts?
  • How satisfied are users with on-line search results?
  • Are the practice intranet sites well structured?
  • Are colleagues aware of critical knowledge in a timely manner?

Engaging influencers and build reputation:

  • Do clients have good access to the firm’s knowledge?
  • Do we have an effective approach to sharing knowledge to connect with clients?
  • Are we reaching and engaging our target audiences?
  • Is our knowledge instrumental in winning proposals?

Delivering expertise with impact:

  • Do we deploy our expertise in client engagement?
  • Do we support our clients via alternative delivery models?
  • Do we apply our latest knowledge in our client work?
  • Do we build client capabilities?

Key to the Knowledge Cockpit is that “metrics are compiled from multiple sources” including Media Relations, Digital Communications, Client Services Team, Publishing, IT, Finance and more.

Since first implemented, the tool’s usage has been increasing significantly with knowledge leaders finding the tool “insightful”. Hofmann put its value down to a few key factors, such as “aligning on the metrics that matter the most and can be reliably measured; agreeing on aspirations for metrics; standardising the definition of a measurement methodology, breaking metrics down to the practice; and asking for a specific metric to be delivered quarterly, and at a certain point in time.”

Facilitating social business collaboration in virtual communities

Useful insights and tips on community management came from BNP Paribas’s Judith Will, who started dispelling a few misconceptions around the topic.

• A community should not be a department. “Be careful not to align communities on an organisational chart even if they can represent functions and activities.”

• We should not call everything a community. “Separate them from collaborative workspaces, teams and projects.”

• There should be a critical number of communities. It may be worth asking ourselves, “Does it make sense to have 500 communities? What does the member think? Is there a need?”

• We should accept that “not all the communities are permanent,” which means they can disappear and change. As Will put it, “there can be sudden deaths.”

It was interesting to hear about BNP Paribas’s “community of community managers”. The company created a specific online working group for helping all their internal community managers to keep their groups alive.

At the core of the Community of Community Managers, is the understanding that being a community manager is a new mission for them all. As such, it is important to exchange good practices, but also share difficulties, find new ideas and enlarge competencies together.

The working group reunites all the best practices encountered across several business lines, with practical sheets and usage examples. However, to ensure a full learning experience, they also share failures stories.

Will concluded with a few, yet useful, pieces of advice on community management: “there is no secret recipe. Never give up – try, fail, retry and retry. Be creative. Stay realistic. Rather than a one-year-plan adapt on a monthly basis. Exchange with your members and ambassadors.” Plus, “be in the shoes of a member,” ensuring an appreciation for the doubts and difficulties that users may have when participating on a community (e.g. I don’t know how to share).

Online collaboration – a challenge within a supranational organisation

Julie Guegan, Communication Expert at the European Commission (EC), discussed the power of community management as the key driver to cultural change.

With a big challenge to overcome – staff growth zero since 2007 – the EC’s internal communications activities started to focus on organisational efficiency. This implied ensuring the right media mix for maximal impact – “be where our colleagues are;” promoting face-to-face opportunities; facilitating content curation, developing a Staff Engagement Strategy and Staff as Brand Ambassadors initiative; and evaluating Return on Investment (ROI).

At the core of these activities sit their Yammer-based internal platform, which was implemented through a “step-by step” approach, rather than a big bang one. The EC developed a community management plan and did regular PR ensuring the tool was seen as “work-related” and digital collaboration perceived as a priority. Adoption has never been forced, but plenty of training opportunities provided. The most remarkable was their in-house Digital Competence Day. Staff are recognised and rewarded for their time and efforts in using social media to interact with their colleagues.

Today, 13,500 users are on the network, working and communicating on 150 active groups and sharing hundreds of success stories. The tool has been instrumental in the creation of new internal communications opportunities such us chats with senior managers, or webinars with international experts.

As new working methods are becoming part of the their daily routine, the EC will continue to develop their staff’s digital competence, pushing towards the integration of selected digital tools for corporate use.

Mobile is now

Ciara O’Keeffe, VP Client Success at Beem, is always good value. On this occasion she delighted the audience on the potential and opportunity for mobile apps inside the enterprise.

How can an organisation encourage its employees to use them effectively? “Business tools are no longer about the business; they should be about the user. Aim to please the user, make them want to come back and use the tool.

Most employees are already using their own devices (e.g. Twitter), blending work with personal. You need to woo your employees…Remember, you’re competing against tools they use outside of work.”

O’Keeffe suggested a number of tips to encourage staff to use enterprise apps:

Start by making it beautiful – “It should look like something they would use outside of work”;

Make it accessible anywhere – “Don’t create barriers to access. Yes, security is important, but so is usage and adoption.”

Make it easy to use – “We all know some kid who can use an iPad better than their parents. Instead of the mum-test I challenge you to the kid-test. Take the tool home and see if that same kid can use it with little to no instruction. The user experience should be at the same level of consumer tools.”

Relinquish control – “Internal content shouldn’t be boring and driven from ‘the business’. Let the message owner share it internally, cut through the noise and let the conversations happen between the experts.

“Rather than internal communications owning it, they find the tools to enable the conversations to happen. Move from wordsmiths to conversation and innovation enablers. You need to make an emotional connection for your employees with the tools they’re using.”


During the two-day event there were many more sessions covering key topics on platform management and communication facilitation. What I found most relevant though was the multiple opportunities for networking to meet professionals and social business evangelists from all around the globe – I have already picked up some interesting case studies that we will be featuring in future editions!

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate