I had the opportunity to have several in-depth conversations with John Rooney (CIO of Technical Strategy) and Ethan McCarty (Senior Manager, Digital and Social Strategy) of IBM. The conversations resulted in our recently released case study on Implementing Enterprise 2.0 at IBM. Here is an overview of that case study.
With over 420,000 employees in over 70 countries, IBM is one of the largest and most recognized companies in the world today. A company of this size needs to be able to coordinate and collaborate, share business processes, and respond to market demands. In order to make this happen, IBM needs employees to be situated across various geographic areas that understand how things are done locally, but also understand the global IBM mission, vision, and strategic direction. This means that employees are not only connected on the ground level, but also to IBM as an entity.
The collaboration business drivers for IBM came down to a few things:
- Changing demographics of the company. New and existing employees are
- expecting these types of tools and technologies to be in place.
- New employees are more acclimated to digital collaboration.
- Existing employees also have expectations which are being set by the
- commercial web
- Distributed digital leadership roles: Someone in LA, Michigan, Canabera
- Australia, tri-state area, Brazil, china, America, etc. need to have these
- connections and be able to work asynchronously
- Large size presents a knowledge management challenge
In the 90′s IBM almost went bankrupt and at that time they had the opportunity to really re-evaluate how things were getting done. In fact many people don’t realize that IBM was one of the early enterprises out there to start building and using collaborative tools and technologies, they had something basic in place almost 30 years ago! An entire team at IBM called Blue IQ helps salespeople to become expert collaborators. IBM developed courses, training, policies, and guidelines for the entire enterprise that each employees needs to re-affirm every year. IBM also acknowledged that senior level leadership was crucial to the success and these senior leaders are quite active on internal platforms. What’s interesting is that IBM has a reverse mentoring program in place which pairs up someone considered to be an expert in social and collaborative technologies with an executive to discuss how social and collaboration can impact their business.
In short IBM’s strategic collaboration initiative has yielded several positive results:
- easier for employees to find and share information
- improved communication across the enterprise
- strategic alignment across the organization
- faster creation and action on content
- improved productivity
IBM actually had quite an interesting collaboration story. To hear more about this story including usage statistics, change management obstacles, operational impact, technology adoption, and lessors learned, check out the full case study on Implementing Enterprise 2.0 at IBM.