Sunday, 26 October 2014

Making Comms Superheros in the Modern World

#CommsHero conference in London was a vibrant exploration of best practice to unleash the power of today's comms professionals. 

Does a leader who is fully paperless, a keen advocate of the use of social media, remote and flexible working really exist? The answer is... yes.

Nick Atkin, Chief Executive at Halton Housing Trust, is a good example. He was at the #CommsHero conference in London this week to share his experience on the difference that being a "Social CEO" made to his professional life.

The premise of his talk was that communication on social media can be the 'hero' and not the villain in the life of a leader. It empowers them to be human, meet, share and learn with key company's stakeholders, and "raise your voice louder, louder and louder."

To encourage a CEO to be social requires to recognise and remove some key barriers. The first stumbling block is to still think that new media and the Internet are a fad. "Your clients, colleagues, investors, prospects don't think so!"

Growth in social media is happening across all generations, real time information flows 24 hours per day 365 days per year, revolutionising services in every industry. "Conversations happen right now, whether you are on social media or not. Don't disable your organisation."

Atkin shared his experience in challenging old ways of working and communicating, bringing fresh thinking to the business and facing - rather than fearing - the change to effectively compete for the future. "Focus on what matters and let go what doesn't."

Being human, interesting and "yourself" were among the tips he wanted to emphasise: "When you have nothing interesting to say, don't let anyone persuade you to say it. Know what you do." The same applies to being "fun, different, credible and visible."

Having an influential digital leader such as Atkin, has encouraged Halton Housing Trust to embrace a variety of social media channels to build and maintain key company relationships. This is happening through both individual employees and corporate's social media accounts - from Twitter, Facebook, Vine, YouTube, Infographic, and blogs.


Building a social business 

"In the old days, communication was rather in the form of one to many. Today with social media, it is a little different...Social technologies have completely changed the way people communicate with each other and with companies. Individuals are sophisticated, informed, tech-savvy, connected and interactive."

Author, lecturer and social media strategist Kamales Lardi, flew in from Switzerland to share the Social Media Strategy Framework. The model, presented in her book “Social Media Strategy - A Step-By-Step Guide To Building Your Social Business,” helps companies define a clear link between social media initiatives and business goals to gain sustainable value.

"Develop, plan and deliver a strategy, both internally and externally, linking it to the business objectives," she pointed out. "Be clear on the goals of the company; then define how social media will help to achieve them."

Doing an analysis of the social media maturity of the company might be helpful. "Understand how ready your organisation is." Is it in the Aware, Listen, Communicate, Support or Engage stage?

• An organisation is "Aware" when it knows that social media has a role to play. However, the company still does not use it for the business.

• "Listen" is about recognising the impact that social media has on the company, while monitoring relevant online conversations and key messages.

• "Communicate" means participating in online conversations. The business has identified key channels through which it communicates its message and story.

• Organisations on the "Support" stage have built a structure to respond to customers. Employees are actively involved and encouraged to use social tools.

• The "Engage" stage sees the organisation proactively participating in social media, by contributing value through high-quality content. "Social media enables the business to achieve strategic objectives."

Social technologies are important in the business world not only as an additional channel to interact with customers, but also for its potential impact on the entire business value chain. This requires paying a lot of attention to governance and risks, people and organisational structure, technology and processes, as well as content, engagement and channel.

"The most common uses for social technologies for business are seen in selected functional areas, namely marketing, branding and corporate communications. Yet, as the potential value of these technologies are explored, companies use it more across other areas of the business to improve operations and efficiency, as well as generate revenue."

A good example comes from the reinsure company Swiss Re. The opportunities that their Jive-based social collaboration platform provides them with fit perfectly with the culture, global business needs and employees' expectations. Plus, the mindset it requires has fundamentally changed the way staff look at sharing news and information internally, as well as helping them to assertively embrace the external social media challenge.

Why comms should be at the top table

Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust Anthony Tiernan, gave an interesting talked about the importance for communications professionals to seat at the top table inside their organisations.
"Experience shows that the closer Communications is to high level decision making, the better protected the organisation is. You can't help steer the ship if you're not on the bridge!"

He pointed out that the number of tiers between the top table and communications can result in crucial messages not getting through, or "getting watered down." Another potential risk is senior management not understanding certain key issues and their relevance to Communications.

Tiernan emphasised that, to get land and stay there, it is not enough to know about communications. "You need to understand and do more than that! Break out of the silo. You must be able to hold your own, while understanding the portfolios of others. You must be able to digest a vast amount of information and 'sort wheat from chaff'"

He also suggested getting in the know, sharing, asking and demanding. "Go to Twitter, blog and self promote. Do training. Get a mentor and/or be one. Shadow the senior team."
"It is hard work, but highly rewarding. Work smart, not just hard!"

Internal Comms Superheros

"Your colleagues are your brand," we heard from Caroline King. The Head of Communications and Engagement at Helena Partnerships centred her presentation on staff communications.

According to King, "employees are a captive audience. You already know them, and they give you instant feedback. You can test out your most creative ideas on them."

Based on her experience, to build strong internal communications, an organisation must lay the right foundations, which means "knowing the culture and identifying the spokespeople". Plus, collaborating. "Stop broadcasting and start engaging. Allow staff to use their voice and share their ideas. Hand over the pen (and control)."
King shared some examples to bring her theory to life, including the 'Good housekeeping meets Scream' internal campaign. The aim was to reinforce housekeeping messages to staff within their main office building. "These related to basic office security and data protection - lock your personal belongings away, don’t leave confidential paperwork on your desk, don’t leave your PC open when you leave your desk and risk somebody else accessing your system. Important messages but dull and with the risk of communicating them in a way that puts people off."

They devised a Halloween themed week long campaign, each day telling a different bit of the story. They uploaded Vines on the Intranet, and created communications messages to display on the plasma screens around the office and on the PC desktop wallpaper.

After the campaign King's team did a short quiz to test the awareness of the messages. There was a 75% increase on the number of hits on Intranet articles for this weeklong campaign compared to articles without Vines that appeared the previous week. According to a poll on their Yammer-based platform, 95% of staff agreed that the campaign made them more security conscious at work.

They also found out that Vine can be "an effective little tool to convey simple messages in a different way and people have been asking for those ‘little videos’ ever since!"

King's recipe for success was summed up in a few points worth repeating: Have the right team around you; make the dullest message shine - use the power of imagination; use the right tools; be human; have a purpose; tell a story, and don't miss out your hard to reach staff.

In the age of social media we are all storytellers

The way we have always learned new things has been through stories. However, Digital storyteller John Popham, reminded the audience that the advent of social media has changed pretty everything in terms of creating and consuming narratives today.

"Once upon a time, if you had a message to communicate you had to own a printing press, or a newspaper, or a radio station, or a TV studio, or a cinema studio. Or, you had to have a big budget to pay one of those who controlled the media to carry your message. But now, most of us carry something in our pockets that can be used to communicate with the world."

Popham referred to our smartphones; everyone can use them to create media and craft messages in real time, potentially reaching out new audiences worldwide.

Yet, we should not forget the basic principle that social media is about conversations. "People don’t like to be sold to. They want to be engaged, entertained and have fun. They want to get to know your brand and your people. Above all, they want to know they can trust you."

He also reflected on how new forms of digital storytelling - for example through Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and many others apps - were reflective of "people's attention span getting shorter and shorter."

Let's not forget face-to-face comms

We think of ourselves as living in a highly connected world. Yet, some believe that interacting only at a distance is detrimental to the quality of our conversations.

Luise Luan liked to remind us that "face-to-face is still the most important method of communication. There are no 140 character limits, and no hiding behind a screen. Body language and tone of voice are in play."

The examples she gave of people having a good chat over a cup of coffee are familiar. "This is where the most important conversations take place, where you discover your people’s biggest concerns, and see how you can help."

Starbucks Coffee has built a campaign around this notion, 'Meet me at Starbucks'. The company has curated a collection of YouTube videos from 28 countries. "Every day around the world, million of people gather at Starbucks, but it's never been just about the coffee...We took a look at what was already happening in our stores, and captured the universal moments of connection  our customers were sharing."


Communications is about engaging on human moments and building relationships, whether it is via social media or face-to-face.

The conference was an opportunity to question how well equipped we are to take advantage of these many interactions. Stimulating them to effectively improve our businesses is no easy task.

Yet, these exchanges are happening this very moment inside our organisations. Communicators have now a window of opportunities to transform themselves in 'superheros' to ultimately help their companies flourish in the modern world. 

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Levie brings collaboration to the next level

The 'Lead Magician' (and CEO) of enterprise platform Box, Aaron Levie, discussed the future of work at Business Without Boundaries in London.

Today, many people use modern technology in their personal lives. When going to work, their needs and expectations are the same. 

"They don’t have the patience to use old systems that aren’t responsive or easy to use. Individuals choose to stay with companies that allow them to work the way they want. Workers expects business leaders to deliver technologies that makes them better, faster, and smarter."

This was the premise of Business Without Boundaries 2014 hosted this week in London by Box,  the cloud content management and collaboration platform.

The event was an opportunity to understand how different organisations are evolving and innovating through the use of this modern application, recognized as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing.

Cloud collaboration

Opening the conference was an inspirational Aaron Levie, Box's CEO and Cofounder.

He flew from America to present the direction taken by the company to enable companies and their employees to work better. "Our mission is to make organisations more productive, competitive and collaborative by connecting people and their most important information."

Today, nearly every business process involves multiple teams working from mobile devices, collaborating with partners and clients outside the corporate network and across geographies. Box is enabling companies to perform this securely on the cloud.

Over 27 million employees at 240,000 businesses, including General Electric, Anglo American, Schneider Electric and the UN Foundation, are using Box to share, manage and access their content globally.

Joining this growing list is Oxfam. Levie announced that the worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty, will soon adopt Box across more than 90 countries.

Oxfam is implementing Box through, an initiative focused on empowering global non-profits to achieve their missions and deliver lasting social impact through technology. In addition to providing employees with mobile access to critical content, the platform will centralise management and security for 17 international affiliates of the organisation.

Oxfam does humanitarian work in the world’s most vulnerable areas; being able to share precious information instantaneously across continents, from capital cities to the remotest locations, is vital for their employees to achieve organisational impact. They have teams across the globe working on hundreds of projects simultaneously. The platform will give them a smoother and more unified way of accessing documents, while empowering collaboration across their entire Oxfam family.

The uniqueness of Box

In a crowded marketplace how does Box differentiate itself from other applications?

"The combination of simplicity and security makes us being different from others," said Levie.

"We combine easier use with security, control and compliance in a way that fewer other companies can do. Whether you are a hospital that needs to secure critical medical data, or a financial services company that needs to be able to secure their most sensitive documents and contracts, we can do that from a security standpoint. Yet, users can still have a very simple application that makes it very easy for them to interact."

Putting people first

Several trends such as social, big data, a new generation of workers and devices, are transforming the traditional approaches taken by business leaders. "Embracing a user-centric strategy, rather than a system-centric one, should be a prerequisite within any enterprise," said Levie.

A user-centric approach doesn’t focus on the technology itself. While applications are still a necessity, people are the starting point. In Levie's vision, the most important business asset is the employee’s experience. Individuals are empowered; they should not have to spend their time trying to figure out how to work with the tools.

"Today, we have simpler technologies available to us, whether it is the mobile phone or new software. We want our workplace tools to be as simple and easy to use as the ones that we have in our consumer and personal life. 

"Enterprise software should be designed like Facebook, YouTube and Apple applications as suppose to traditional, clunky, and complicated technology like Oracle or SAP. Business leaders and enterprises need to find ways to deliver those tools securely to both their employees and customers."

Box for Industries
Every enterprise is facing challenges and opportunities that are unique to their own industry. This is why Levie has launched Box for Industries an initiative aimed at accelerating business transformation inside every business by providing industry-specific apps.

An example comes from healthcare. The explosion of data across healthcare providers, researchers and the scientific community has put the industry under the challenge of evolving its approach to interoperability and care coordination. To address that problem, Box has acquired MedXT, a pioneer in cloud-based medical image viewing, sharing and collaboration.

Through MedXT, Box is bridging the gap between the equipment that radiologists and technicians use to capture data, and the people they ultimately need to share that data with. Physicians can collaborate by accessing critical clinical images instantaneously and by making annotations on medical procedures from their devices.

Box for Office 365

From Levie we also heard that Box for Office 365 desktop apps are officially ready for everyone to use. Box for Office is building a bridge to Word, PowerPoint and Excel by making it as simple as possible for everyone to open, edit, save and share any file from Box without having to leave Office. "This makes collaboration faster, more natural, and more accessible from the world’s most popular productivity suite."

The company has also given their existing Box for Outlook a major refresh to make email attachments easier to manage. People can attach files stored on Box into new emails, or save attachments from incoming emails directly to a folder on Box.


These were a few of the new announcements that Box is releasing. It is quite astonishing to think that it all started from a college business project in 2006 to become a de facto cloud platform for corporate information, collaboration and business transformation.

Perhaps, one of Levie's greatest strengths is to evolve rapidly while maintaining faith to his original purpose and mission. He is bridging technology with the reality of how people actually use his service.

As the Lead Magician of Box asserts: "Let's go build how tomorrow works."

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A great deal for Groupon’s internal communications

Groupon, a leader of local and national commerce, operates in more than 500 markets globally. With 12,000 employees across the world it serves over 53 million active customers.

Back in 2012, Global Social Business Strategist Andrew Mishalove (pictured right) was hired to create a new digital workplace presence.
“The company had acquired many businesses around the world. It was like having almost 40 different organisations, each one with their own intranet. There wasn’t one single repository for HR policies, internal communications or collaboration efforts.”

Start with a vision

The idea was to start building something universal for the entire workforce.

From the beginning, he had three clearly defined strategic goals: building one corporate directory; creating a single corporate news and communications channel; and developing an HR Resource Centre with each geographical area having access to their own policy and information.

Do your homework when choosing the platform

When he joined the company, Mishalove still had a mind-set of the past: “the traditional portal where administrators create content for a rather passive audience.”

Yet, he made his homework and quickly learned about new ways of working. “I did my research. I found out about companies using internal networks such as Yammer, Socialcast, Moxie or Jive, to boost collaborative efforts among a global workforce.“

While contemplating the idea of launching a similar platform inside Groupon, he ended up sitting with a variety of analysts in the field. Plus, he attended portals, collaboration and social business conferences, as well as seminars and demos around the world.

“I finally figured out that Jive was the right solution for our specific goals.”

Focus on experience at individual level

The platform was highly customisable. This was particularly important for building adoption inside a complex business like Groupon. “To build a robust social enterprise, we needed to be able to tailor the tool to our individuals’ needs.”

His initial work focused on user interface and design, as well as the creation of a customised experience at a personal level. Now, when staff log into Jive they have immediately access to what is relevant to them, such as the contacts and material that are very specific to their own job. Rich user profiles provide everything employees need to know about a colleague all in one place. Plus, the ability to search for information in different ways - via people, content, and places – to make faster decisions.

“That incentivizes people to come back and use it frequently.”

Collaboration…not a dream any more

Today, the vast majority of employees are logging into the system to consume information daily. As far as making contributions is concerned, the percentage of active users has reached 84%.

What seems to drive such a high level of engagement from the bottom-up is “compelling editorial material”. Plus, the fact that even small teams have the opportunity to formulate and share their own ideas regularly, often impacting on official business implementations.

There are hundred of use cases around collaboration. “For example, the Sales Teams generate reports on a daily basis together. The same is for the Editorial teams.” The entire global editorial manual is now available on the platform. Editors and writers are required to enter their community every day to see the latest changes and updates to the style and generation of content.

Customer Service teams also use their own group to post questions, and get feedback from experts very quickly. “They now have one place to go in order to find all the material on call centres services, the information necessary for dealing with clients complaints, latest news, training, and changes to policies.”


While transitioning from Jive 6 to Jive 7, Mishalove is looking at integrating third parties applications. One of these is Salesforce, currently used by employees in charge of highly complicated deals.

The complex nature of their work, often require them to get feedback and input from different teams (e.g. customer service, call centre, editorial and PR).

"Narrowing the integration between the two platforms means agents working on Salesforce can view cases’ information in the context of the community discussion that generated them." They would be able to track down all the history of interactions happened around a customer enquiry, and make more informed and better decisions when managing important business deals.

A vision for employee engagement

Part of Mishalove's original vision was also to increase the level of employee engagement. “For staff operating across more than 45 countries it can be easy to feel disconnected with the HQ or the rest of the company. And, if employees don’t feel united to the organisation, it’s difficult to cultivate loyalty, productivity and ownership.”

He believes that if you can increase connectivity and activity within the global network, you can boost engagement and people retention. He gives the example of a colleague working from Japan lamenting of not having any insight on what the HQ in North America was working on. “That was upsetting for her, as it was for many others. But, now there is a single place to get access to all that information. We can communicate beyond borders and understand how we work in each country.”

Aligned with the idea of having a global working culture, the leadership team has established a global strategy. It focuses on the entire company operating from one single playbook, defining how the work done at the HQ ties up with every other geographical area of the business. “It is one of the initiatives we are implementing on the network to build a consistent experience for our people, making them feel connected to the overall performance of the company.”

Engagement is not very easily measurable. “Yet, there are some clues we can use to say that something has moved.” He refers to friendly comments made by people who once were very passive, the lot of sharing happening across geographies, new relationships unfolding, and teams becoming more productive.

Leadership…are you with us?

Adoption and engagement from management is essential in establishing a meaningful intranet system. "It's definitely something we're constantly working to improve."

Before there was mass adoption of the intranet, leadership were communicating predominantly through emails, even for global company announcements and important notes to the whole employee-base. But, Mishalove is working on getting them more involved on the platform. For example, “we started to do executives’ interviews and post the videos exclusively on Jive.”

Executives meeting are also organised on the platform, with the communications department helping leaders with their content and presentations.

Next on the agenda, is the creation of an area “where all the executives’ blogs will be aggregated into one space,” a channel where senior managers can share day-to-day thoughts on the company’s direction.”

Walking the talk

There are good examples of why getting leaders on board is critical. One of these comes from the Global Director of Information Technology, who uses the social network regularly and very actively to build personal connections with her people.

She writes her own blog and posts weekly. When traveling she ensures to communicate very openly on everything happening during the business trip. The entire team is following her posts, and commenting on them.

“Morale has improved since she came on board and strategically utilized the platform to communicate with team members. Now, everyone has embraced it enthusiastically. It comes down to her leadership style of transparency and walking the talk.”

This article originally appeared on simply-communicate 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Social Collaboration - a northern Europe view

Social Business Collaboration 2014 took place in Berlin this week. Gloria Lombardi reports on the two-day conference.

“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'Keeffee, 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'Keeffee 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