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Inside Nokia's Plan To Break Down Social Silos

Nokia wrestles with a common problem: making social software apps play nicely together. Here's how they're pursuing a solution.
Top 20 Apps For Managing Social Media
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Top 20 Apps For Managing Social Media
Like a lot of big enterprises, Nokia has plenty of social software in place but still struggles to get it all working together.

Enterprise 2.0
"Over the years, different organizations had different goals or different objectives, so they went off and created their own social silos," Ming Kwan, global digital marketing manager for Nokia, said in an interview. She and her colleague Craig Hepburn will be among the keynote speakers at Enterprise 2.0 in Boston, which begins on June 20. Their topic is "Pulling It All Together: Connecting External Activities with Internal Conversations."

As an example of the silos that concern her, Kwan pointed to the sales team's use of and its Chatter social networking tool, while executives use Socialcast for general corporate communication. Radian 6, which was recently acquired by Salesforce, is Nokia's social media monitoring tool, while the firm uses Spredfast for Social CRM. There are other tools in play as well, such as a best practices community based on the Drupal open source content management system.

Nokia doesn't necessarily plan to eliminate any of these systems, but it does want them to work together better, Kwan said.

In partnership with Headshift, a U.K.-based digital agency, Nokia is working to unify its technologies and do a better job of organizing its people to respond promptly to alerts from the worlds of social media and the Web. To use social media monitoring effectively as an early warning system for product problems and consumer complaints, Nokia needs to respond in real time, Kwan said. Too often, the current state of affairs is that the digital team gets its social media analytics in the form of two-hour briefings on a weekly or monthly basis, rather than getting the information in time to act on it, she said.

Kwan said Nokia was unable to find any single technology product that would address every aspect of what it wanted to accomplish and is instead working to create a "lightweight technology layer on top to link them all together." Nokia has completed a proof of concept version of the integrated system, which it has tested in a few local markets, and will be working toward full production over the next six months, she said.

One key change will be a system for sending alerts when some action needs to be taken by the digital marketing team, Kwan said. For example, if consumers are complaining about a new phone or some particular feature, such as problems with the camera, those issues sometimes take longer than they should to be relayed to the corporate office and prompt an appropriate response. The communication and product teams might have to huddle first. Is this a known problem? Will Nokia take back the product, and if so how should that be handled? Should the consumer return it to the store?

"Often, that takes a long time," Kwan said, and sometimes the breakdowns come because the "email chain" for making a decision gets stuck in the inbox of someone who happens to be on vacation. Social media interaction makes it easier to notify groups or teams of people about an issue and get a response. Also, by retaining those conversations, Nokia hopes to build up "a library of actions someone has taken so others can learn from the successes or failures of that."

Ultimately, the project is not about tools and technologies, Kwan said. "It's about actions."

Kwan and Hepburn are scheduled to speak Wednesday June 22 at 9:15 a.m.

Attend Enterprise 2.0 Boston to see the latest social business tools and technologies. Register with code CPBJEB03 and save $100 off conference passes or for a free expo pass. It happens June 20-23. Find out more.