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Enterprise 2.0: Wachovia Turns To Wikis, Blogs To Support Growth

To connect its 100,000-plus employees, the financial services company is rolling out a slew of new collaboration tools anchored by Microsoft's SharePoint Server.

At Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia, e-business director Pete Fields is spearheading the bank's embrace of Enterprise 2.0 technologies in an effort to link its growing network of offices around the country and the world. "We used to be flummoxed by a one hour time change," said Fields, speaking Wednesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

Field's noted that Wachovia has in recent years grown well beyond its southeastern roots, presenting a host of communications challenges.

To connect its 100,000-plus employees, the financial services company is rolling out a slew of new collaboration tools anchored by Microsoft's Sharepoint Server. Under the plan, Wachovia is adding wikis, blogs, instant messaging, social networking sites, and other Web 2.0 technologies to traditional methods like e-mail, according to Fields.

Beyond connecting employees around the world, Wachovia's collaborative environment is designed to attract -- and retain -- younger Generation Y employees who expect access to Web 2.0 tools at work. "They grew up in the flat world," said Fields. "They're used to playing video games with kids in Poland."

Fields said that many of corporate America's young workers' engagement levels "fall off the table" after about a year on the job because "we give them no means of input."

To change that, Wachovia is giving its Gen Y workers a role in helping its Enterprise 2.0 makeover succeed. Younger employees are assigned to teach senior staffers about the benefits of using collaborative networks.

Wachovia's Enterprise 2.0 project is also reducing travel expenditures at a time when transportation costs are soaring. With online collaboration tools, such as one-to-one video conferencing, in place, employees can spend less time on the road meeting with colleagues.

Wachovia's Sharepoint project was in part funded through anticipated travel savings, Fields noted. Managers from various departments committed 5% of their annual travel budgets for five years to fund the effort.

Finally, the effort is also meant to help Wachovia retain institutional knowledge as older workers retire by preserving their experience in digital form. "It dwarfs what we have in our content management systems" said Fields.

Wachovia is rolling out the project in stages. It launched a pilot program with about 1,000 workers in December, extended it to 10,000 in February, and had expected to make the environment available to all of its 120,000 employees by the end of last month.

Among the more popular tools in Wachovia's Enterprise 2.0 portal are the wikis, according to Fields. The bank's first effort was a wiki designed to capture and define the numerous three letter acronyms used throughout its operations.

The wiki quickly garnered more than 900 entries, according to Fields.

Shortly thereafter, Wachovia created a wiki dedicated to ideas to help it go paperless. It's now piloting a full, encyclopedic wiki and also plans to roll out tools that will allow individual business units to quickly post wikis for individual projects.

Ultimately, Wachovia plans to extend its Enterprise 2.0 network to customers and business partners, but carefully and gradually.

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