By Gloria Lombardi

“Social is here to stay. But, for having substantial effects a lot of companies have to re-address the question of why they are doing this“- Björn Negelmann, CEO of Kongress Media

Earlier this week, the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in London aimed at covering the state of social business. This was a challenging goal considering the highly dynamic and developing topic.

Yet, with a good number of case studies and subject-matter experts, the event was an interesting mixture of theory and practice. Through interactive talks and workshops attendees had the opportunity to explore the evolution of collaboration inside organisations.

Here are a few personal take-aways, from the more practical use cases to the latest thinking and analysis.

Digital transformation at Barclay’s Retail Bank

The conference was an opportunity to catch up with Dave Shepherd, Head of Frontline Help at Barclays UK Retail Bank. He was on stage at our SMiLE London in September talking about how MyZone mobile app is giving voice to branch staff.

I asked him about the latest developments to their colleague app. His team is continuing doing great work. For example, this month they have introduced a mechanism that allows employees to reset their enterprise password “with three clicks of my thumb”. The results are already being felt: “It has reduced telephone calls into our IT service by 90%!”

It was also interesting to hear about and ‘s recent initiative to promote the importance of to kids. For the occasion, schoolchildren were invited to the bank’s branches to learn about coding. With the guidance given by Barclays staff they were challenged with developing their own computer game or building an app for their mobile phone.

It was a significant event, which gave the opportunity to play and engage with technology in a healthy way, “through fun and creativity.”

Social media inside large enterprises

CEMEX does not fail to surprise. Through Shift, their IBM Connections-based social platform, the building materials giant is keeping ahead of the game with collaboration.

Luis Garza, Innovation Technology at CEMEX Research Group told the story of how the company is using six global networks to exchange expertise and create new products and services. They are fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and innovation to capitalise on new ideas and achieve clear strategic objectives.

Among the most recent results are the developments of new housing solutions, including over 300 paving projects in the past year.

From the many things that he learned, Garza liked to give the audience some tips: “keep the tools out of the conversation, use simple success stories as references, link communities activity with business metrics, have leadership promoting by example and keep communication flowing.”

Another interesting presentation came from Collaboration Consultant Kevin Austin who talked about the enterprise-wide Yammer adoption at Shell.

While the story started in 2008 from the scratch, they are currently working on achieving 50,000 users by Q2 in 2015.

Austin described some of the challenges they had at the beginning such as educating staff on the difference between the enterprise social network and external social media.

Another strong barrier was breaking down silos between retailers and distributors.

Yet, today Austin talks about Shell as a networked organisation, which is increasing efficiency and reducing costs thanks to social collaboration.

It will be interesting to see how this story will unfold.

The digital enterprise wave

“Your business model is under threat. Ride the digital enterprise wave or go under!”

The lively keynote presentation from Agile Elephant’s David Terrar centred on the organisational and collaboration principles for driving business value.

The digital enterprise wave that he describes is driven by economic factors such as outsourcing, offshoring, low costs; connectivity factors (the Internet, Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G); and human factors like entrepreneurship, crowdsourcing and the rise of millennials.

It is a wave that embraces the big shift to the cloud, social, mobile as well as emerging technologies – 3D printing, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics and The Internet of Things.

Terrar liked to remind the audience that “business as usual” thinking is not helpful. Instead, we need a “digital” thinking. “Digital and social inside and out” is required to move from siloed communities to systems of engagement and innovation.

Why change? “The evidence is mounting – to make digital truly work, change is necessary.”

Terrar highlighted the emergence of new types of organisational structures like holacracy or wirearchy, where responsibility is taken individually and collectively rather than relying on traditional hierarchical status. Information flow is faster and pervasive and decision-making is streamlined.

He also gave examples of transformative companies. One of those is Gore. Its team-based, flat lattice organisation values fairness, and the freedom to encourage, help and allow its associates to grow in knowledge, skills and scope of responsibility. The innovative clothing company rates highly the ability to make commitments and keep them, as well as to consult its people before undertaking decisions that could impact on the reputation of the business.

Yet, “it is not about changing the organisational chart. Many structures will work,” argues Terrar. Instead, it is about mind-set and values: accountability, transparency, honesty, and empowerment.

Social business value beyond the adoption of technology

What do today’s models of collaboration and engagement look like? What value do they create?

“Social collaboration is the most effective way to deeply engage employees and the broader ecosystem, capture knowledge and leverage it strategically with everyone. The employee collaboration industry has moved to a new phase that uses the proven techniques of social media to capture and share knowledge more powerfully than ever before.”

Chief Strategy Officer at adjuvi Dion Hinchcliffe, gave a informative talk on how enterprises are preparing for the future of digital work. He talked about new models of work from community-centric open collaboration to non-hierarchical companies, borderless dynamic workforce, and the sharing economy. He also pointed to the evolution of apps at work, and with it, the rise of enterprise apps stores, unified information streams, the quantified enterprise and contextual applications. Finally he included the arrival of new devices from wearables to workplace robots. 

Similarly to Terrar, Hinchcliffe drew attention to the fact that these changes are demanding considerable shifts in culture and mindset in our leadership and workforce.

“Technology can greatly improve the engagement of employees and the performance of their organisations, but only if they are ready to make the fundamental changes…Unfortunately, the “provide and pray” model for rolling out the latest innovations is still the norm and not the exception…Culture change is one of the largest remaining obstacles to collaboration.”

The most adaptable organisations are moving toward collaborative networks, focusing on cultivating communities, fostering co-creation, and optimizing shared value, instead of just acquiring a powerful new engagement technology. This is leading to empowerment on an entirely new scale for those that embrace it. They are improving the connections between co-workers, providing more relevance and opportunities to implement their ideas.

Some companies are clearly making the transition. For example Valve, a major company that is entirely self-organised. Also, Intuit, which uses mass peer production with its customers to create breakthrough customer care. is another one – an online community that solves some of the scientific world’s largest problems using outsiders.

“Fully connected organisations get outsized benefits.”

Change starts from the individual

On several occasions we heard of the importance of taking individual responsibility for the change to happen. This message resonated with many in the room.

“A healthy organisation would reject by default,” told Social Technologist Benjamin Ellis during a panel discussion. “You need to find the things that are broken.” He pointed out that can be initiated from any part of the business, “from anyone who is able to create stories that resonate with the organisation.”

Postshift’s Lee Bryant also commented: “There are a lot of small things that you can start doing today rather than waiting for the big to happen.”

This was strongly emphasised by Change Agent and Head of Quality Innovation & Engagement at Sanofi Pasteur Celine Schillinger. “In our ever disruptive business environment, you have to collaborate in a much broader way than what the organisational chart suggests.”

She suggested extending collaboration inside and outside the enterprise. She was clear that change start with a personal positive attitude toward transformation. “You can’t count on the company alone to make you progress and shine. You have to do it by yourself.”

“There is an amazing potential in connecting the enterprise and its ecosystem to co-produce added value. Making others know what you do is a way to generate new ideas and possibilities.”


During the day there were many other relevant contributions. Yet, there was something that came out of the conference – we are using plenty of jargon when addressing the topic of social collaboration. Maybe, this is part of the global evolution we are currently in.

But, how helpful (or harmful) is it to the achievement of concrete results inside our enterprises?

As Lee Bryant liked to put it: “We do not need all these labels. Ultimately, it is about doing business in a better way.”


This article originally appeared on simply-communicate