Saturday, 16 March 2013

Internal Social Media, Collaboration and Engagement: Simply SMILE 2013

Don't take the social out of the social networking...be present”
(Beacky Graebe, SAS Institute)

On Monday 11th March I was very happily attending the Simply SMILE 2013 – Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise – conference organised by Simply-communicate.

It was a great opportunity to know the latest on this fascinating discipline. In fact, there were many experts from a range of companies and fields who gave brilliant insight on the different uses of social media inside the organisation in order to improve internal communications and facilitate employee engagement

Added to this I had the chance to meet and have meaningful conversations with other passionate participants. Indeed, I came back home that night with a strong sense of accomplishment and fulfillment (a SMILE!).

The event started off with the 'Welcome to SMILE 2013', the introduction to the conference given by co-chairs Marc Wright and Silvia Cambie. Then the very many speakers were progressively interviewed during the day.

Among the varying topics covered during the event there were:
  • the uses of different social platforms to foster colleagues' collaboration in companies such as Philips, SAS Institute, Diageo and LexisNexis;
  • the adaptation of emails for the social age at Cable&Wireless Worldwide;
  • the uses of mobile phones inside the organisations. In particular, the results from a recent survey run by Simply-communicate were revealed and interesting findings commented;
  • the latest on the best uses of intranets and Sharepoint as well as a talk about the required skills of professionals involved in this industry were given.

At the very end of the conference we had also the chance to participate in group discussions, which I found very interesting and meaningful as well. I personally took part in three of them, namely:
  • Old and New Technologies
  • How do you measure success?
  • How to drive adoption?

Indeed, it was a very interesting conference to attend and I am very thankful to Simply-communicate for organising such a relevant event as well as to all the speakers and participants to be there with all their valuable contributions.

Below I would like to share with you a few marginalia on one of the case studies presented during the day:

Becky Graebe Corporate Communications Manager from SAS Institute talking on “The Hub” -  the social media platform which was launched two years ago and helped the company be listed on the Top 25 World's Best Multinational Workplaces from the Great Place to Work list.

Dubbed 'the Hub', Socialcast is a central forum for communication and collaboration where the SAS culture of openness can thrive”.

With more than thirteen thousands employees around the world SAS needed an enterprise social network (ESN) which could enable the company to pull together and expose the collective knowledge and conversations into one place for everyone's benefit.

In particular, SAS was looking for an ESN to be able to fit:
  • the company's budget parameters;
  • security risks (SAS required that all communication in the community remained protected behind the firewall);
  • the integration with other internal communications systems (e.g. Sharepoint, Microsoft) so that so to prevent employees from perceiving this as “just another inbox”.

Socialcast was decided to be the best option for SAS's requirements.

The Hub was launched for the first time on February 14th 2011. After ten days, the community had already 1000 of registered SAS's employees while today's users are 9500 and the number is still growing ( up to 20 new members join The Hub daily).

In line with SAS's organisational culture of openness and collaboration one of the major benefits released by The Hub was - and still is – the true collaboration sensed by employees across all office worldwide

If employees need a quick answer (e.g. on a question about a customer deployment) or a specific document, they post these requests to the Hub and answers come back almost immediately from another location”. “The Hub saves time and effort, increases customers and employees' satisfaction” (Kareen Lee, Sr. Director of Internal Communication at SAS)

Also the online community helped SAS's executives to increase company-wide transparency and open communication with employees.

After one year since launching the Hub, on 14th February 2012 (Valentine's Day) SAS organised a celebration, named “Love the Hub Day”, made of internal and online events. This was designed to celebrate the online community's achievements as well as to continue increasing engagement and collaboration on the Hub.


In the final part of the conference I had the opportunity to be in one of the group discussions (How to drive adoption?) with Becky Graebe. I was happily fascinated by her sense of real commitment and dedication to what she had previously talked about on stage. In fact, that moment of sharing ideas and thoughts all together in group was for me another meaningful part of the whole invaluable experience I gained from the conference.

Certainly, my passion for this fascinating discipline has been nurtured once again, thanks to a 'Simply' SMILE 2013!

This form of participation...is a learning curve...let people experience it”
(Becky Graebe, SAS Institute)