Jive Honors Innovative Social Software Customers

Jive gives top award to PricewaterhouseCoopers, with prizes for Deutsche Bank, Verizon, Premier Farnell, Millward Brown, and HealthFitness.

David F Carr, Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

October 16, 2012

7 Min Read

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The PricewaterhouseCoopers enterprise social network is so powerful that it's showing benefits for people who don't even have access to it yet.

At last week's Jive Software user conference, PwC was recognized with the "New Way to Business" award, the overall "best of show" award for the customer with the most impressive story to tell. Other awards, for both internal and customer-facing uses of social software, went to Deutsche Bank, Verizon, Premier Farnell's element14, Millward Brown, and HealthFitness.

PwC is a relatively new Jive customer, having signed last December and soft launched its social network (branded Spark internally) in April. In its first six months, Spark has attracted 90,000 users in a phased deployment, country by country around the world. PwC is the world's largest professional services company and the largest of the Big Four accounting firms, so it has a lot of territory to cover.

[ Ready for an upgrade? Jive 6 Adds Tweaks from Cloud, Embedded Apps. ]

The last of the national office deployments, in Germany, is scheduled to happen next week, said Paula Young, leader of the Global Knowledge Services team providing central support and coordination for the rollout. One of her favorite stories about Spark concerns a German employee who did not yet have access to it but called up a friend in London who did, in search of an answer to a question about IBM's OpenPages compliance software. Within minutes, another employee in London wrote back, mentioning about 10 technology groups that might have the answer, and the conversation quickly ricocheted across the Atlantic and around the world.

"The thing that blew this guy away is that he got his answer in 26 minutes--after spending four days trying to find it," Young said. That kind of responsiveness is hard to match with traditional approaches to codifying knowledge within an organization, which tend to be less suited to answering spontaneous, unanticipated questions.

"Historically, knowledge management was really focused on collection--it was just in case, rather than just in time," Young said. Both approaches are important and meet different needs, but PwC is decisively shifting to more of the "just in time" approach delivered by social networking, she said.

Another common payoff, in addition to finding information, has turned out to be "taking the pain out of proposals," Young said. In one recent example, a geographically dispersed team had to hustle together a proposal for a retail client within two weeks and found it was able to do so in about half the time, she said. One reason: coordinating the development of the document through Jive (in combination with its plugin for Microsoft Office) eliminated about 80% of the versioning issues that arise from emailing documents back and forth, she said.

In France, PwC launched a balloon to advertise the launch of Spark, its Jive-based enterprise social network.

PwC had experimented with enterprise social networking before, with different divisions of the company trying Yammer and IBM Connections (back when it was known as Lotus Connections), Young said. But Spark represents the first company-wide effort. "What this is doing is bringing all of it together, as the one and only" enterprise social network for the company, she said. PwC isn't necessarily dictating that all competing solutions be shut down, but "most of those died a natural death," she said. One smart tactical decision the steering committee for the project made was not to call the initial implementation a "pilot," Young said, after a colleague warned that "if you call it a pilot that will be the kiss of death because inherit in the word 'pilot' is the idea that it might be taken away." When the Jive network instead launched as "wave 1," it turned out that every part of the business wanted to be part of wave 1, she said. "They wanted to be part of something big."

Business units also found creative ways of boosting employee awareness, like the Spark balloon the French team lofted outside its offices.

Another of the winners, Premier Farnell, was recognized for its work with Jive's software for managing customer communities. Since 2009, the electronics products and services firm has used Jive as the basis of its Element 14 community, which caters to both professional technologists and hobbyists. In the category of "Engaging Customers," Premier Farnell tied with Verizon Wireless and the community for its mobile phone customers.

"Community is one of the hardest things to keep going, but after having good, consistent, linear growth for the last 2 years, around March of this year, we started seeing double and triple-digit growth," Dianne Kibbey, head of the Element 14 community, said in an interview.

This was largely a result of Premier Farnell's distribution agreement for Raspberry Pi, a credit card-sized Linux computer that sells for $35, including shipping. Created by an academic team in the U.K. that wanted to promote education on computing fundamentals, Raspberry Pi has been embraced by the do-it-yourself (a.k.a. MAKE) movement, and Element 14 has established itself as the community for people thinking of ways to use these devices. "The initial inventory we had sold out within minutes," Kibbey said.

Kibbey said her team has customized Jive's social software over the years to add features it lacked, but is progressively phasing out those customizations as the product fills in the gap. One customization that will remain is the social commerce component of the community, where the website makes it easy to click through from a discussion about an electronics component to the corresponding product page where it can be purchased, she said. "It's given us this whole different way to lightly market to our customers in a way that's acceptable for a community." Enthusiasts for Raspberry Pi and other products typically want to know what accessories and complementary products are available, "and they make the choice to go over and buy it," she said.

Verizon's customer community was recognized based on the scale of its deployment and the positive reaction from customers. "Because of our implementation of Jive, our community has become the center of excellence in peer to peer content," Lauren Hickey, community manager at Verizon Wireless, said in a statement.

For "Engaging Employees," the judges selected Millward Brown, a leading global research agency specializing in advertising, marketing communications, media, and brand equity. Judges cited the enthusiasm exhibited by Millward Brown's user community and its wide, global user adoption, with 86% of employees using Jive five months after its initial rollout.

"This was a true team effort and Millward Brown is proud of what we have achieved. We are especially pleased that the judges characterized Greenhouse, our Jive community, as an 'impressive, flawless implementation and the essence of what social is about,'" Deepa Ramesh, the community manager, said via email. "We use Greenhouse every day and it has become a key part of our employees' daily working lives. It has really transformed the way we share knowledge and collaborate across the globe."

Jive also gave an award to HealthFitness, which runs employee health and fitness programs for corporate clients, as an early adopter of Jive for Teams, a cloud hosted version of the Jive social collaboration software aimed at midsize businesses and divisions within larger companies.

Unlike the other awards that went to companies, the Jive "New Way to Lead" award was designed to recognize an individual or project team responsible for orchestrating a successful rollout and adoption. John Stepper, managing director at Deutsche Bank, won for driving a Jive implementation that now reaches more than 33,000 Deutsche Bank employees. "After years of trying to modernize our intranet and our collaboration tools, Jive has--within just four months--become the single best way to leverage people and content throughout the firm," Stepper said in a statement, saying the social network "has driven real value in our organization through faster problem solving and increased productivity."

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

David F Carr

Editor, InformationWeek Government/Healthcare

David F. Carr oversees InformationWeek's coverage of government and healthcare IT. He previously led coverage of social business and education technologies and continues to contribute in those areas. He is the editor of Social Collaboration for Dummies (Wiley, Oct. 2013) and was the social business track chair for UBM's E2 conference in 2012 and 2013. He is a frequent speaker and panel moderator at industry events. David is a former Technology Editor of Baseline Magazine and Internet World magazine and has freelanced for publications including CIO Magazine, CIO Insight, and Defense Systems. He has also worked as a web consultant and is the author of several WordPress plugins, including Facebook Tab Manager and RSVPMaker. David works from a home office in Coral Springs, Florida. Contact him at [email protected]and follow him at @davidfcarr.

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