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    Move Over Intranets: The Blue Man Group’s Collaborative Workspace is the Shiznet

    As a growing number of companies can attest, traditional intranets have become irrelevant. Some employees have started using external social channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to set up workspace groups to share information, have group chats in real-time and ultimately get their work done in one location. They also turn to channels, such as YouTube to get information and expert guidance that is simple to find and even easier to consume.

    Intranets may have had their day, but too many become information graveyards containing out-of-date, poorly organized documents and other resources. Traditional portals are also not segmented by user, forcing employees to sort through materials that aren’t relevant to their jobs. And typical intranets may not allow for conversation strings, which forces timely exchanges to take place on other external channels. The final nail in the coffin is intranets that are not mobile-ready.

    Today’s social workspace should mirror the functionality, collaborative nature and ease-of-use of popular social media sites—organized, configurable to users’ needs and accessible 24/7 through any digital device. More importantly, collaborative hubs encourage greater employee engagement and strengthen your organization’s business goals and strategies.

    Discover how collaborative workspaces are superior to traditional intranets.One great example of a truly powerful collaborative workspace is BlueMan Group’s Shiznet social intranet. The Blue Man Group theatrical show has skyrocketed into a vibrant global brand with productions in 11 worldwide locations and experienced by more than 17 million people.  However, they knew there was a problem of collaborating with over 500 employees and 50 blue men. They had an outdated intranet and knew it was time to replace it with a social collaborative platform for four compelling reasons:

    1. Accelerate real-time innovation and knowledge sharing: Social collaboration platforms provide knowledge sharing capabilities so employees can obtain needed job skills and immediately adapt them to their everyday work. Leveraging collective knowledge also fosters innovation and bolsters employee engagement by unleashing the intelligence and creativity of internal teams. Blue Man Group’s Shiznet is the Creative Cauldron, a workspace that was developed specifically for “Blue Men” to collaborate on new show ideas and brainstorm on bringing ideas to life. The Creative Cauldron has served as a launch pad for new show ideas, stunts and creative content.
    2. Encourage informal learning: An effective social intranet allows employees to easily access informal learning tools in their moment of need. The Shiznet also acts as a central repository for the hundreds of videos, audio and digital assets that are regularly used and created by the Blue Man Group. From the latest production stills to commercials, anyone within the organization can easily locate, tag, access and share content within The Shiznet. This allows the company to centralize its creative assets into a single repository, streamlining the ability to save and distribute informal media assets.
    3. Digital Connection In today’s world, no technology is complete if it is not mobile-friendly – the same is true for a social Intranet. Organizations need to ensure that their enterprise collaboration workspace is accessible on devices, such as smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. Through these technologies, employees can communicate and share resources 24/7, remaining connected and strengthening internal collaborative communities.
    4. Showcase and utilize your internal experts: While it is a good thing that employees are doing their own research, it can also be unfortunate when they learn tactics, skills and habits that run counter to organizational culture and strategy. Having a powerful enterprise social collaboration platform provides easy access to internal experts, who will put the right skills and knowledge at employees’ fingertips.

    If your company is looking to gain a competitive advantage, an updated social workspace is key. It leverages internal knowledge, ensures resources are in alignment with company culture and strategy, and keeps your employees engaged and loyal to your organization.

    Could Your Intranet Win an Ugly Sweater Contest?

    With the holidays in full swing I have been invited to a few of those ugly holiday sweater parties and I was on the quest to find one that will land me first prize. I even shelled out a few extra dollars for some holiday pants too, thinking if I have an over-the top, crazy, but complete ensemble I would surely smoke all of my competition. Wish me luck.

    I then started to think about how so many companies have an ugly intranet and if they did was it ugly enough to win an ugly intranet contest? Trust me I used to work at a company where it could turn into a week long quest to find any useful information. The intranet was so cumbersome and annoying that no one wanted to use it, EVER!

    I bet you are wondering what made it so ugly, here’s the nitty gritty:

    • The home page was a complete jumble of this and that, no structure – no rhyme or reason
    • It was a dumping ground of information overload, where you would have to dig to find exactly who or what you needed
    • There was no sense of content ownership either, there was content posted that was so outdated that it talked about releases that happened years prior
    • It wasn’t connected to other systems that I needed to use such as a CRM or learning tools
    • When I wanted to post something I had to submit it in an unsearchable document library that asked me to fill out all this metadata and key word mubo-jumbo that didn’t even make it easy to find it once it was posted
    • If it was that bad on a PC, I didn’t dare try to use it on my mobile device – why create angst for myself
    • Sadly I could not work or share information in groups with members of my teams – and all correspondence was done by email after email

    If the above bullets about how terrible my experience was sounds like your current intranet experience,  congratulations you just won the ugly intranet contest.  Let me tell you what you won. Don’t worry, it’s not a Chia Pet. Its  a gift from me to you that will help make your intranet sparkle this holiday season.

    What do you want this holiday season? I bet it’s a social intranet that:

    • Is accessible from anywhere – no matter what digital device you are using
    • Allows you to join and create groups that you can work and share information effortlessly
    • Personalizes your experience so that connections and communications are relevant
    • Your able to work in a space where you can connect to the tools you use every day to do your job
    • Has  resources available in one place that is easy to locate, share, update and download
    • Fosters innovation and share new ideas with employees
    • Can measure how employees use the social intranet and how their activity can lead to improved ROI

    Bottom line – no one wants a gift that they have to stand in line to return, better yet one they wouldn’t even want to re-gift. Why bother using an outdated, undesirable, non-performing intranet when you should be using a social intranet that nurtures connections to employees, directs workers to resources they need, creates a collaborative space into a super powerful communication hub, fosters learning across the entire organization, and strengthens both internal and external relationships.

    By implementing the right social intranet that they will enjoy using, you will give your employees a gift that keeps on giving!

    Happy Holidays!

    Enterprise Social is all about Business Process Redesign

    In a conversation yesterday, my friend and colleague Marcia Conner lamented that “there just aren’t enough public, shared examples of companies using social to do real work.”

    Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! How right you are!

    It’s too easy for enterprise social software deployments to degenerate into places where people simply publish—or worse yet, merely talk about–work they’ve done elsewhere.

    Image: www.1to1media.com

    Image: www.1to1media.com

    But there are plenty of examples of companies that are really transforming their business processes through social.

    • Take for example McKesson and OSISoft,, whose Support professionals hit Socialtext every time they need to research a customer issue
    • Look at Southeastern Railway, whose 4,000 engineers, station conductors, and customer service professionals discover and discuss train delays on a social intranet.
    • Consider Industrial Mold & Machine, whose engineers walk the factory floor with Socialtext-enabled iPads, comparing output to spec and discussing process defects in real time.
    • Think about HUD (Office of Housing and Urban Development), which drafts, revises, approves, and publishes press releases directly from Socialtext.

    Different industries, different functions. But they have several things in common. They did the heavy strategic lifting to rethink their business processes in the age of social. They’ve achieved near-universal adoption within their target populations. Most important, they have hard ROI numbers that tie directly back to the numbers they use to run their business.

    This isn’t just about communications; it’s about business process redesign.

    So if you’re struggling to see what the “big deal” is about social, ask yourself this: Have you re-conceived your business process for a collaborative workflow, or have you simply pinned a social tail on the same old donkey.

     

    Update: Based on Susan Scrupski’s comment below, I added the word “Redesign” to the title. Thanks Susan!

    How Social Can Improve the Customer Experience: An Interview with Ogilvy & Mather Director

    Meet Evan Shumeyko, a director at Ogilvy & Mather, and an expert in customer engagement. Read on for an in-depth interview with Shumeyko, and to gain his insight into how social software can improve customer relations and strengthen your organization.evan.shumeyko

    Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and your background?

    Currently, I work as the Director of CRM and Customer Engagement at Ogilvy & Mather, a global marketing services company. It was founded by David Ogilvy, the father of all Mad Men. But, I come from a kind of diverse background that’s a little different than you might expect…

    Well now you’ve certainly got our attention…what’s your previous experience like?

    I don’t have the typical advertising or direct response experience. My background is in customer care, so I understand a little better than most how important the customer mindset is to a business.

    My career began in a company, which is now known as Verizon Wireless. I worked in their customer service organization, and specifically helped to identify and stop fraudulent activity. I eventually moved up and then on to other companies, where I focused on customer service and community management. I’ve worked everywhere from an Internet startup in the information marketplace sector, to the Associated Press, but I’ve always believed in the importance of offering great customer care. Even now, at Ogilvy, my job is to help brands offer better customer experience.

    In your opinion, what’s a major problem in most businesses and their customer relations?

    There’s an interesting irony about the way many organizations are set up– the teams who have direct, day-to-day contact with customers are often furthest from the heart of the business. They are usually not involved in improving broader challenges, such as how to improve customer experience. If companies align the customer care organization with the business, they can unlock customer value.

    Ok, so you’ve found the problem, how do you fix it?

    Well, first, you’ve got to get others to understand the problem before you can reach a solution.

    I often have a conversation with clients that leads them to a certain realization. It sounds a little like this:

    Client: I’m interested in building up our social media capabilities.

    Me: That’s a great idea. However, you realize that you have a listening post already inside your organization, right?

    Client: No, I had no idea! Is that something that was set up by another marketing team? I’d really like to connect with them.

    Me: They’ve been around for quite some time, engaging in thousands of conversations with your best customers, influencers, and prospects. I am sure you can derive great customer insight from building a closer relationship with them.

    Client: Where are these people? How soon can we connect?

    Me: I’m talking about your customer contact center. Let me introduce you two.

    All right, so you’ve got your client on board. How do you get the client to connect with the customer support team and better understand the customers?

    Well, they have to do more than visit the call center once a quarter and listen to a few phone calls, or conduct internal focus groups only after a new product launches. Instead, they must engage with their customer care colleagues in real time, consistently, and with an eye on common objectives and an understanding of ROI.

    In the past, this might have spurred a series of meetings or initiatives that would increase “time off the phones “ or create longer conversations, which can be problematic for any care team. I can hear the screams now from those of you who don’t work for Zappos and still have to deal with AHT – average handle times, despite its decreasing relevance as a key metric.

    Now, we have this wonderful new tool called social media. Let’s use it in our businesses.

    How do you think social media can help businesses better understand their customers?

    Social media has presented us with a powerful opportunity. We can apply social media principles and tools inside our own contact centers. Customer care agents are an audience themselves, and we should be interacting with them more and gathering their feedback in real time. Social media provides us with the ability to marry the Voice-of-the-Customer with the Voice-of-the-Agent to get a true picture of how we are delivering on the brand promise.

    Beyond listening, we can then use social software inside the call center to push out short talking point suggestions to agents, enabling them to have more valuable conversations with customers.

    So, let’s get specific…how exactly would social software help?

    Ok, let’s say your company sent out a confusing promotion and now your agents must deal with an overwhelming number of contacts. How do you know this? Well, because of social software, your frontline staff sent out a signal to your internal network, immediately alerting those who needed to know. As a result, you were able to create a post informing your staff on how to handle the issue, and share it through your social software. If your agents had questions or comments on your entry, they could respond immediately.

    How does social software help you and Ogilvy & Mather, specifically?

    What I’ve described is exactly what Ogilvy & Mather is doing with our clients. We are using a phrase we coined, “Socializing the enterprise,” so gone are the days of bosses dropping stacks of files on your desk. We use Socialtext on a daily basis, because it helps digitize the content that Ogilvy creates. I believe in service-based marketing. You shouldn’t have to spend 30 minutes searching for the document you need, when it takes you seconds to get a restaurant recommendation online. Using Socialtext allows us to unify teams, ensure relevance in conversations, and align service delivery with the brand promise. In doing so, we are making wise changes from the inside out, which allows our clients to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

    What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to offer readers?

    If you provide excellent service, you’ll market your products more successfully. It’s a simple idea, but it always holds true.

    Industrial Mold & Machine Turns Major Problem into Rousing Success

    Industrial Mold & Machine (IMM), a manufacturing plant that creates metal molds that make plastic parts, was recently featured in its local Ohio newspaper for solving its long-term problem: improving communication and collaboration on the manufacturing floor.

    Socialtext was customized to meet IMM’s specific needs, and employees were informed that use was completely optional, but could prove useful. IMM simply placed tablets, with full Socialtext access, on the manufacturing floor, and a few eager employees paved the way for widespread use.

    The first year results were positive, with production increasing by 20% and labor costs decreasing by 40%. Even now, IT Manager, Larry Housel, sees the difference on an individual level.  Recently, Housel needed details on an order’s progress for a customer. Within a few minutes, he was able to contact the station that was completing the order, request a photo, and pass that photo along to the customer, to offer real-time progress on the order.

    We’re excited to hear that Socialtext still serves IMM well and wish them continued success! Click here to read the full story of how Industrial Mold & Machine transformed a big obstacle into a big win.

    Learn How Southeastern Railway Achieved Gold-Metal Success with Their Social Intranet

    Can a social intranet dramatically improve operations and productivity in your company? The answer is YES.

    Southeastern Railway

    Chances are you’ve had the experience of waiting on a train platform and the train doesn’t show up or the day is filled with rampant delays and the messaging of what to do next isn’t provided. Imagine having to deal with those transportation scenarios in a city that is hosting the Olympics? Well gleefully those potential nightmares didn’t happen when the city of London hosted the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. The UK’s premiere passenger rail service, Southeastern Railway, was operating seamlessly and successfully moved 7.7 million people over 16 days. Southeatern’s stellar achievement is attributed to the implementation and management of Workforce, its social collaboration platform powered by Socialtext technology.

    Download this case study and learn how Southeastern Railway is moving at award-winning pace due to social collaboration across the enterprise.

    Socialtext Customer McKesson Earns a Spot on The Brainyard’s List of Top Seven Social Business Leaders for 2012!

    Pop the champagne! I’d like to congratulate Tim Kelly, Executive Director of Customer Support at McKesson on being named as one of the Top 7 Social Business Leaders for 2012 by InformationWeek’s The Brainyard. McKesson is a long-time Socialtext customer. We (and I personally) have developed a close relationship with Tim and are proud to be a part of the company’s success in helping McKesson’s employees, VARs, and customers collaborate effectively.

    Part of what I love about McKesson’s use of Socialtext is the precision with which they are able to measure its impact. McKesson’s Socialtext implementation spans both internal stakeholders (employees) and external stakeholders (VARs and customers). It’s generated impressive ROI:

    • Average time to answer customer calls has decreased 66 percent
    • Same day resolution of concerns from customers has improved 12 percent

    A deeper look into McKesson socializing customer service to drive business value can be seen in our recent free whitepaper.

    In the feature article, 7 Lessons from Social Business Leaders, editor and key industry influencer David F. Carr explains why Tim was considered:

    Measuring the performance of social initiatives against quantifiable metrics lets companies see what’s working and what needs to be fixed. Hard numbers can also be useful in terms of getting people–internally and externally–to buy into the use of social tools. It’s one thing to say that employees should use social technology because it will improve collaboration; it’s more powerful to tell, say, customer support representatives that the technology has been proven to reduce the amount of time they will spend on each call.

    This shout out to Tim for McKesson’s use of Socialtext to better workforce collaboration within the company just goes to show that with metrics like this, there is little argument that enterprise social software can deliver dramatic, measurable business benefits. We look forward to growing our relationship with McKesson, and all of our customers, on the path to creating truly social businesses.

    Congratulations Tim!

    Get Out of the Customer Service Blues and into Customer Service Success!

    Socialtext has written a free white paper around socializing customer service to drive business value. Even if you aren’t in the customer service business or use call centers, we feel that you should take a look as many of these principles apply to training facilitation, cross-functional communication across the enterprise or within departments and heightened access to information that makes getting work done in any category easier to execute.

    Enterprise social collaboration is where it’s at and we want you to hear from the those (McKesson, Ogilvy) that have experienced impressive ROI’s from using Socialtext to optimize their customer success goals.

    As you can imagine, any consumer with an internet connection has the power to make or break your brand. Call centers are the front lines by which your customers interact with your company and are ever more important because of the amplification a public complaint can have. So what if there were a better way to manage call centers so that they have immediate access to every answer a customer needs to solve their problem? What if you could train your call center employees with one click to essential materials and training videos? What if you could dramatically reduce resolution time and increase alignment with sales initiatives? Well you can!

    Here’s a peek into some of the numbers:

    Within three months, McKesson saw improved Average Speed to Answer with a 67% reduction from 33 minutes to 11 minutes; Saw Average Handle Time improve with an 11% reduction from 22 minutes to 20 minutes and an 11.75% improvement in Same Day Resolution (SDR) which was largely influenced by their use of Socialtext. Well that’s impressive.

    If some of your goals are to:

    • Streamline agent engagement with campaign content and teams
    • Optimize dialogue for effective sales and offer conversions
    • Increase team collaboration and knowledge sharing
    • Improve and optimize sales agent performance

    …and you want to learn more from two top Socialtext users, backed by expert opinion from Kate Leggett, Forrester Research’s leading expert analyst on customer service technologies, then download this free white paper and see how you can move into social and positively impact your organization with successful results.

    At Socialtext, we believe the best answer to managing call centers is through an enterprise grade social platform with the connectivity and collaboration features your employees expect coupled with the security and flexible deployment options that lets you get work done with ease.

    Security, one-touch access, social collaboration, activity streams and more all in one platform — now that will make any customer smile!

     

    Thank You IMM for Real-Time Information Revolution Webinar!

    We want to say thanks again to Wendy Wloszek and Larry Housel of Industrial Mold & Machine (IMM) for another great webinar! They did a fantastic job of revealing how the manufacturing industry is leveraging collaborative tools in a big way, and the ROIs that are being realized with both executives and workers on the shop floor.

    IMM is paving the way for pushing new technologies to make information sharing and communication in an industry that is considered ‘old fashioned’ easier. In a field where the apprentice journeyman relationship is critical for future company success, with use of collaborative integration and mobile access to information, their workplace has been transformed.

    Every employee is equipped with an iPad for access to IMM Connect, their name for the Socialtext platform that resides behind their firewall, enabling information to follow material at all times, which expands IT to the shop floor. The extensive use of Socialtext Page Tracker widgets allows IMM to visualize and coordinate workflow. Now experts and apprentices alike have access to plans and schematics anywhere to streamline the process of editing and adapting to changes. According to President Wendy Wloszek:

    Collaboration is how you turn an underperforming employee into a companies’ asset, creating a system where everyone can be a winner within. We always try to view the uninformed or unskilled as a challenge to create an environment where they can be successful. Converting the expertise of industry veterans into information that can be redistributed to others in need of it has been area that we have had success since implementing Socialtext.

    They have also integrated new technologies in 3D design software, providing employees with a simplified view into what they are building. Being able to watch shared 3D animations of color coded schematics of molds, makes it that much easier for expertise in the field to spread through their organization.

    Overall, it’s an encouraging story of how enterprise 2.0 along with other technologies can be used to move the needle for workers outside of office buildings on the manufacturing floor.  Watch the webinar, The Real Time Information Revolution – Coming to a Tool Shop Near You, You can see a replay of the Webinar here.

    Also, IMM’s Larry Housel, Head of IT has been nominated as a semifinalist in the Constellation SuperNova Awards! Vote for him to win this prestigious award here.

    We Need Your Vote! No, Not for President…for the Constellation Research Supernova Awards!

    Two of our fantastic customers have been named semifinalists for the prestigious Constellation SuperNova Awards: Rupert Atterbury Thomas of Southeastern Railway and Industrial Mold & Machine’s Larry Housel. Both were selected in the “Future of Work” category which analyzes the technological, demographical and cultural forces challenging the traditional paradigm of work.

    Southeastern Railway and Industrial Mold and Machine are both using Socialtext to disrupt two very traditional industries: train transportation and manufacturing. Each leverage our social collaboration technologies to improve workflow processes and bridge the age gap between multiple generations of employees. By simplifying the ability to share expertise, ideas and corporate data, we have helped these companies remove knowledge silos that traditionally hampered the ability to respond to change and serve its customers efficiently.

    Constellation hand-picked a group of global market makers to judge the 2012 SuperNova Awards. The judges evaluated all applications using a point system and a score of 75 was set as this year’s benchmark for advancement to the semifinalist round. The judges sought out applications that accomplished true disruptions or demonstrated innovative adoptions of disruptive technology and created an engaged, empowered, and efficient workforce.

    Winners will be selected based 70% on public voting and 30% on judges. Your vote counts, so be sure to help support these two great thought leaders in their accomplishment!

    Don’t wait until Election Day. Vote today!

    About This Blog

    Weblog on gaining business results from social software.

    On this blog, Socialtext staffers and customers explore how companies can gain the most business value from their use of enterprise social software, including microblogging, social networking, filtered activity streams, widget-based dashboards, blogs and wikis.

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