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How Microsoft uses 2.0 tools to connect employees

by Davin Wilfrid

June 16, 2010

By Davin Wilfrid, Project Expert

I'm at the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week, learning all I can about how (and why) large enterprises are deploying Web 2.0 tools. Christian Finn from Microsoft just left the keynote stage after sharing several lessons about the company's internal podcasting network.

Microsoft established the network in order to help its more than 90,000 employees share knowledge across the globe. A typical problem at Microsoft is that a field sales representative needs help with a technical question to serve a client's needs. The podcasting network allows sales reps to find subject matter experts by doing simple keyword searches. Once they locate the right expert, they can quickly get in touch and get the answers they need.

Microsoft stocked the pond by actively soliciting contributions through the following:

  1. Gave potential podcasters free tools such as cameras, microphones, Camtasia screen-capture software, in exchange for commitment to podcast a few times per month
  2. Boosted recognition with live podcasting at internal conferences
  3. Eventually rolled out internal marketing program for certain podcasts
  4. Offered rewards based on points. Podcasters can exchange points for prizes such as Bose headphones, golf clubs, or Sony TVs. They can also donate points for cash to charity.

The program was a success, according to Finn, with more than 18,000 podcasts now in the system. Total podcast views went from 100,000 the first year to 1,000,000 in FY 2010, and more than 50% of Microsoft's 92,000 employees are active on the system. Among the sales organization (for whom the system wa s designed), adoption is greater than 90%.

The lessons learned according to Finn, are as follows:

Focus on need, not the technology

Be a silo-buster

The solution belongs to the users

The NAME of the solution matters

Start small, grow fast

Bring in everybody

Measure value

Your mileage may vary

Many SAP companies are dealing with the same challenges as Microsoft, and it's clear that Enterprise 2.0 tools are an emerging technology. SAP recently launched its StreamWork application, which provides collaboration tools that allow users to "digitize" the decision-making process. What is most clear is that selecting the appropriate approach, regardless of the technology, will require careful planning and organizational momentum.

I'll be back with more on the Enterprise 2.0 conference -- including a discussion on how to build a business case -- later.

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