Social Business: Slow And Steady Worked For Philips - InformationWeek
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Social Business: Slow And Steady Worked For Philips

Social business success isn't impossible. Philips shares five best practices that helped grow its enterprise social network from 400 to 50,000 users.

that a lot of people feel ownership in it and want to see it succeed."

Soon after, Philips expanded its pilot program and allowed its small group of ambassadors to invite others. In those first two weeks, the platform grew from 400 to more than 2,000 new members. Six weeks later, the community reached 7,000 members.

2. Educate employees.
As more members joined, Agusi said some misunderstandings and resistance surfaced among employees. To make the value of the platform clear, they needed to make the answer to the question, "What's in it for me?" more apparent.

"People thought it was an internal Facebook where you posted pictures of your dog and holiday," Agusi said. "But quickly, people realized that it is a business tool built on social technologies that helps us achieve business goals like collaborating and speeding up communications."

To educate employees, the company expanded on the help from its early-adopter ambassadors and developed training sessions to make everyone feel more comfortable using the technology, Agusi said. They launched a training site where employees could browse user manuals and watch tutorial videos that explain Socialcast's basic functionality.

"We didn't think anyone would read the manuals, but found that a lot of people did," Agusi said. "But we're an engineering company and people want to understand exactly how things work -- it's the nature of our organization."

The training piece of the social business puzzle was critical because unless employees are comfortable with a technology, they won't use it, Agusi said. That was evident especially with company executives.

"We learned that many [executives] didn't immediately see the value when you showed them how employees were using the community," he said. "So we made a deal with them: You try it out for three months and if it doesn't work for you, we simply won't bother you anymore."

The result: The entire leadership team is now active in the community. "We learned that people often need to experience social technologies before they really understand the potential of it," Agusi said.

3. Enlist a community manager.
As more employees joined the Philips Community, Agusi assumed the role of a community manager to keep its growing user base engaged.

"You simply cannot live without a community manager. They're the one who drives conversation -- especially at the start," he said.

Early on, Agusi publicly welcomed new members in the community and suggested groups for employees to join. He also facilitated introductions so people could connect with others and develop mutually beneficial relationships.

Today, community managers work to keep the conversation flowing and

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Justin Belmont
Justin Belmont,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/25/2014 | 11:02:55 PM
Re: SAS and Socialcast
Great tips. Social business can be a tricky business to master, but it's definitely possible, and these are great and concrete tips to help newer companies get started. Thanks for sharing!
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 11:47:50 AM
SAS and Socialcast
I reported a couple of years ago on the use of Socialcast at SAS Institute and found it to be going strong when I checked in for an update to include in my Social Collaboration for Dummies book. The Socialcast product never got as much hype as some competitiors, and now there seems to be a lull in interest in social intranet platforms in general, but as noted here the secret to success was never just buying and installing a software product (or subscribing to a cloud service). It's not the platform's ability to share, collect, and collaborate that's most important -- it's the motivation and the leadership of the people in the organization to create a collaborative culture and use the tools as an enabler. That doesn't mean software choice is not important, but there are probably several products and services for every need.

I suggest focusing more on the limitations of the platform and making sure it won't hold you back. Once you clear that hurdle, take your choice and really run with it. Your momentum and commitment will make the biggest difference.
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2014 | 2:05:03 PM
How long to sink or swim?
How long has it taken your company to either reach critical mass in or abandon your enterprise social network? What contributed to your success or failure? Let's hear your experiences.
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