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11/5/2012
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Unisys Lets Employees Drive Face Of Social Business

This BrainYard Social Business Leader listens to employees about how they can use social business tools in their jobs.

Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Want to find the role of social business in your company? Let your employees discover where social tools can help them do their jobs.

That's one of the suggestions of Gloria Burke, director of knowledge and collaboration strategy and governance at Unisys. I spoke with her and some of her colleagues at Unisys as part of our research for a feature on The BrainYard's Social Business Leaders that will appear in the Nov. 12 issue of InformationWeek.

[ Red Robin CIO Chris Laping, our social business technology leader of the year, will join an onstage discussion of The BrainYard's Social Business Leaders at E2 Innovate, Nov. 12-15, Santa Clara Convention Center]

"We've put a lot of emphasis on helping employees learn how social tools can add value in their particular role," Burke said. Once they have it figured out, she encourages them to share. "Nothing drives the adoption of something new more than a colleague telling you it works for them," she said. One internal communications campaign used a poster with the slogan, "It's true. You know it all. (How about sharing it?)"

The social business initiative has succeeded partly because of a top-down push from management, which recognized its importance, Burke said, and because of the groundwork laid by prior knowledge management initiatives. "When Unisys looks at the emergence of social for the business, we do see it as an IT disruptive trend," she said.

"We do have a tradition that goes back 10 years where our employee base has been exposed to the technologies for knowledge management and now social media, but what we understood when we started this three years ago is it's not just about the technology but getting people to understand and interact and change," said Rajiv Prasad, director of knowledge management and CTO operations. "The technology is needed infrastructure to make it easy to do what you need to do, but if either the capabilities or the content are not up to expectations, they will get turned off."

Instead, 91% of the employees in the targeted global audience for the new social platform adopted it within 18 months.

The external and internal uses of social media "started out as separate initiatives, where marketing was trying to tap into the social biosphere out there, while at the same time we started internally down this road with NewsGator and social," said John Knab, director of IT applications. "Over the past year or so, we're starting to converge those, where we've fairly closely tied what we do externally with what we're trying to do internally."


Gloria Burke

Those departments that interact with customers increasingly turn to the internal social network to find answers to questions they've gotten from customers through social channels. Unisys has also implemented Salesforce.com, including Chatter as a social collaboration tool for sales teams. Knab doesn't see that as a conflict, although he is investigating ways of making Chatter and NewsGator work together.

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