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Enterprise 2.0 in action

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In this week’s post, i am going to talk about some real life examples of companies that have successfully embedded Enterprise 2.0 strategies into their organisation to improve business performance and harnessing collective intelligence internally for their own benefits.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is renowned for its active involvement in social media networks (Twitter, Facebook and Flickr) among customers. Based in Dallas, it has more than 3,500 employees and serves more than 65 cities in America. With more than 3,000 departures daily, the company serves tens of thousands of people each day.

Social Media stats:

  • More than one million followers on Twitter
  • Voted top 40 best Twitter brands by Mashable in 2009
  • Almost 1.7 million likes on Facebook

As you can see from the statistics above, they have established a huge community on the Twitter. Since 2007, they have been engaging their followers (potential customers) directly for sales & advertising purposes but also respond to customer queries & complaints. The timeline column was used to track those complaints and mitigate the situation directly through Twitter.

Film maker Kevin Smith claimed that he was kicked off the flight when boarding the aircraft in February 2010. Understandably, he vented his frustrations on Twitter and here’s the script.

They also had a blog setup to encourage employees and customers in sharing stories about their travel experiences and travel related issues. By allowing customers to have control of their own contributions on the blog, Southwest was seen as a trustworthy brand.

Here’s a video on Southwest Airlines and social media in action!

General Electric (GE)

GE is an American multinational conglomerate in New Jersey and ranked the 6th largest firm in the U.S. SupportCentral, is a hugely sophisticated enterprise collaborative system that was custom-built for tailoring to the needs of its extremely huge organisational size and global operations.

Social media stats:

  • 400,000 global users in 6,000 over locations around world, all working via a web interface that is available in 20 languages.
  • The system gets more than 25 million web hits per day. (More than employee usage of Google and Yahoo combined together!)
  • Users have created over 50,000 communities with over 100,000 experts signed up to answer questions and manage information.

So what do all these stats mean for GE? SupportCentral offers a number of networking models (people, communities, documents and discussions). Depending on the nature of their work, users get to select which models suit them best. The system instills a unique organisational culture in terms of self-learning, networking and communication within GE’s large employee base.

On top of that, the system also reduces cost up to millions of dollars in annual savings.  This is largely due to the thousands of hours of time per day that employees will save as they are able to track down the information they need at their finger tip. It also has firewall ‘pinholes’ to external destinations that allow external vendors, suppliers and customers to participate on specific projects. About 30,000 external users access the system through the firewall pinholes to participate in specific communities.

We’ve gone out of our way to call it professional networking rather than social networking. We’ve been building a professional-networking capability that allows everybody to put in the organization directory the skills that they bring to bear. It’s very searchable, so if someone is looking for a particular skill, they can go to that site. That gets about 25 million hits a day, so it really is becoming sort of a heartbeat of the company. – GE’s CIO, Gary Reiner

Looking through the lenses of Wikinomics business model,

Peering – Twitter was leveraged by Southwest to harness collective intelligence from their followers to get real-time information on issues and potential problems of the airline. In the case of GE, they had an internal enterprise social networking system that encourages sharing and collaboration between employees.

Being Open – Dealing with complaints as openly as on Twitter demonstrated the airline’s approach of being transparent in customer service management . Blogging was used as the platform for collaboration and related issues or messages could be conveyed easily between both parties. They had nothing to hide and the customers appreciate that. Access to SupportCentral is not only restricted to internal GE staff. External vendors can collaborate with GE for certain projects when required.

Sharing – Information could be exchanged easily between Southwest and their customers through blogging and other social media platforms. GE staffs or external parties have access to documents and other communities easily within SupportCentral.

Acting global – The use of social media platforms allows Southwest to globalize their business by engaging people from all around the world while SupportCentral links all the GE staff to an integrated enterprise collaborative system that are distributed around the world globally – no geographical constraints to restrict sharing and collaboration.

Final thoughts

This brings me to the end of this week’s post. Hope you people will see the dynamics of running an enterprise in a different light. Both organisations mentioned in this post encourages a high degree of collaboration internally and externally but the type of tools used: free to use social media tools vs. custom social networking tools opens up another area for debate as to which is better than the other.

Enterprise 2.0 is the next step forward and it will be interesting to see a shift in working culture with social media and other networking tools at the centre of an organisation for years to come.

Here are some useful links and references: