Enterprise 2.0 Preview: Collaborative Tools Gird Wachovia's Global Push - InformationWeek

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Enterprise 2.0 Preview: Collaborative Tools Gird Wachovia's Global Push

Wachovia is embracing Wikis, blogs, instant messaging, social networking sites, Microsoft's Sharepoint, and other collaborative tools to connect staff, cut costs, and retain and attract younger employees.

Call it a new solution to an old problem. For years, multinationals like General Electric have used the phone, snail mail and, most recently, e-mail to bridge their far flung operations. Today, however, companies that are just beginning to operate internationally have a whole new range of globe-shrinking technologies at their disposal thanks to the emergence of Web 2.0-style computing and its enterprise cousin.

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At Wachovia, the fourth largest bank holding company in the United States, e-business director Pete Fields is leading the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank's embrace of Enterprise 2.0 technologies in an effort to link its growing network of offices around the country and world. "We needed to work much more effectively across distance and time," said Fields, noting that the financial services company has in recent years grown well beyond its southeastern roots.

Fields will deliver a presentation titled "Realizing Business Value through Social Networking Within Wachovia" at 9:30 a.m., on Wednesday, June 11, at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston.

To connect the bank's 100,000-plus employees, Wachovia 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 its traditional communications tools.

"There are big picture business challenges that this will help us overcome," said Fields.

Beyond connecting employees around the world, Wachovia's collaborative environment is designed to attract younger Generation Y employees who expect access to Web 2.0 tools at work. "Business in general has a real challenge engaging Generation Y," said Fields. "They're coming to us with high enthusiasm but encountering arcane tools and bureaucracies," he said, adding that many young workers' engagement levels "fall off the table" after about a year on the job. "They are leaving Fortune 100 companies," he said.

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. "They're actually mentoring our Boomers," said Fields.

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.

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