Enterprise 2.0 Attendees Talk Strategy

Leaders share ideas on how to get employees to embrace social networking.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

June 12, 2008

3 Min Read

It took a bit of a "punk rock" attitude to drive the adoption of wikis and blogs at pharmaceutical maker Pfizer. "We had to challenge the culture," says 2.0 technology manager Simon Revell.

Now workers routinely post articles to a wiki, called Pfizerpedia, that's grown to host more than 10,000 articles and how-to videos. Even Pfizer's cautious regulatory affairs group is using the wiki. Employees use blogs to communicate with managers in different time zones and rely on RSS feeds for external and internal news related to their jobs. "You're handicapped if you're not thinking about RSS," Revell says.

Revell was a speaker at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston last week, where IT leaders offered advice on one of the biggest problems facing corporate social computing: How to get such efforts off the ground.

At Pfizer, starting with small projects targeting narrow groups of employees proved key to overcoming resistance, he says. Then there was a slide deck depicting how "Charlie," a fictional Pfizer employee, could use social computing tools to become more productive. The presentation got posted on a public slide-sharing Web site, and "Meet Charlie" became a mild viral hit, garnering more than 120,000 views.

Revell thinks punkPhoto by Alex Dunne

At Wachovia, enterprise 2.0 technologies help connect what has become a worldwide, 100,000-plus-employee company through growth and acquisition. The financial services company's wikis, blogs, instant messaging, and other new collaboration tools are all anchored by Microsoft's SharePoint Server. The collaborative environment is seen as critical to attracting--and retaining--young employees who expect access to Web 2.0 tools at work, says e-business director Pete Fields.

The project, which includes videoconferencing, is also reducing travel expenditures at a time when transportation costs are soaring. In fact, the SharePoint project was funded in part through department managers committing 5% of their annual travel budgets for five years. The effort is helping Wachovia retain institutional knowledge as workers retire as well, by preserving their experience in digital form. "It dwarfs what we have in our content management systems," Fields says.

Wachovia's first wiki involved defining the numerous TLAs--three-letter acronyms--used throughout its operations. It quickly garnered more than 900 entries. From there, Wachovia created a wiki for ideas to help it go paperless. It's now piloting a full encyclopedic wiki and plans to roll out tools to let business units quickly post wikis for individual projects.


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FedEx is ahead of many companies in building a next generation of online services, including tools that let customers access FedEx from within their business applications. "The days of FedEx.com being the be-all and end-all are numbered," says CIO Rob Carter.

While Web 2.0 appeals to young workers, it also creates a branding challenge. There's "a bit of invisibleness to FedEx" for those under 30, Carter says. He hopes to change that by targeting social computing networks, such as a new Facebook app that lets users launch a virtual package, perhaps containing photos or other digital media, into a friend's page with an onscreen slingshot. Carter sees no choice but for companies to embrace this "explosion of community" to stay competitive. "It's been brought on not by us, but by our customers," he says. "They're setting the pace."

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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