Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to improve internal comms and be creative? Get a Pie!

Havas Creative Group is an international agency specialising in advertising, marketing and corporate communications. They have around 11,000 employees in over 100 offices across 75 countries. At the core of what they do is using creativity to build bridges between people and brands.

But, to make innovation enduring, it is important first and foremost to build internal connections. That is where Pie can come to hand. Havas Creative Group has been using this enterprise chat app for brainstorming and sharing creative ideas for a couple of months.

This short amount of time has been enough for their Creative Technologist Dillah Zakbah to say, "It has already replaced an enormous amount of unnecessary emails between our teams. Everything happens much faster and in a more efficient way. Plus, all our knowledge stays safely stored."

In fact, Zakbah, who is based in Singapore, is working on making the tool more available company-wide.

Pie - back to the business need

When Zakbah joined Havas Creative Group around seven months ago, she found she needed a tool for herself and all the creative teams to make brainstorming more effective. "The agency was receiving many briefs, and we had a lot of brainstorming sessions to run. For time constraints, not all of us had the opportunity to speak and share their own ideas during those meetings. On top of that, we were in different teams and sometimes we had conflicting schedules."

Zakbah was looking for a solution that could help all the creative staff to raise their opinions on each brief, but also store those ideas and other relevant information for the pitches. "We needed a central place just for that. Even if someone was travelling or might not be able to contribute during a meeting, they could still catch up and have a say at their own time."

"Every time we have new ideas, it is crucial for us to save them. Otherwise they just get lost - or they get messy if we do that exercise through emails."

Testing, testing, testing

Zakbah tried out different enterprise apps and social platforms before embarking on Pie. "Some tools were too technical for our staff. Others were too much 'corporate looking'."

In contrast, Pie was "extremely simple and user- friendly." For Havas Creative Group's employees less prone to technology "on-boarding on this solution was very easy."

Plus, "it looked cool and fun, with bright colours and plenty of emoticons!" Indeed, never underestimate the power of design. "For our creative people, it is actually very important. It made this virtual space much happier. But, it still preserved its serious aspect on the way it functions for the business.

Additionally the app integrated well with other application that Zakbah's were using. For example, often they have their copy stored on Google Docs as well as videos that they may want to share from Dropbox. From Pie, they could search and find those files easily.

"Basically, the tool was the most useful for our purposes and the most pertinent for our organisational environment."

Getting back the luxury of time

Zakbah works with colleagues in Singapore as well as staff members from Bangkok and Indonesia.

The value of Pie for their communications is clear. "We can keep updated as never before. Now, we always know what is going on in the different offices. Working together has become much easier."

Zakbah claims that the tool has become the central place for discussing anything pitches-related. "For every pitch, we do really need to have everyone's head in one single place - we need to be present. With Pie, we have got back the luxury of time. We can discuss a lot more but in a time-efficient manner."

The app allows to archive group and individual chat logs, which can be easily referenced at a later point.

Every time Zakbah's teams have a new project, they create a related community on the app. 
They have used Pie to chat for projects for our client’s such as Tokio Marine Insurance, PayPal and Magner’s Irish Cider.

"On each group we share all our inspirations, findings and research around the brief." Plus, a lot of "work from competitors." 'Check Out!' This is the message that Zakbah usually posts when she sees the competition doing something new or interesting or different. "We do share plenty of this type of information; then we discuss it all together."

Ultimately, she has found that what they could achieve with one week of work, can now get done within two-to-three days. This also means "saving the company a lot of money."

In fact, for Zakbah "it is really no-brainer for the rest of the company to start using it."

Social bonding

Chat rooms work very well also for strengthening relationships. Alongside all the main work-related groups, Zakbah's colleagues have created a community called 'Cool digital things to do'. Here is where everyone submits their ideas about digital-related extra activities to do in the office to build connectedness with peers.

Another popular community called 'Mish Mash' has become the place for sharing "funny news of the day, funny images and trends found around the web, as well as funny things going on inside the company."

Being mobile

Another relevant quality of Pie is its mobile capability. Zakbah likes to call it 'The WhatsApp for work'.

"It is as intuitive as the external facing consumer app. We are all on mobile. We like to take pictures wherever we are and share instant messages whenever we have a new idea."

Zakbah uses Pie also to share the pride for a work well done with the rest of the team. "Recently, I was walking to the train station. I saw that the latest advertisements we had worked on for Tokio Marine – ‘Ready for what’s next’, were plastered all over the place."

She took a picture with her iPhone and shared it with her colleagues on Pie. "I wanted to make them feel proud. Everyone liked the photo and started commenting on it, saying how much they were pleased to see that. Some of them went even further - they wanted to go the station after work and check the ads by themselves. They also kept similar pictures and shared them though the app."

Emoticons as a mean of communications

Besides, Zakbah appreciates that the mobile app makes many emoticons available. "We use emoji and stickers frequently. Sometimes, they are useful to quickly get your message across."

This is particularly true when there are disagreements within the team. "For example, rather than saying to someone that you don't like their idea, we put a frowning face instead. That is enough for that person to understand and move on. And, you have not hurt their feelings with words like 'I don't like that.' For creative people that could be very upsetting."

A digital assistant 

When you share a lot of information, having a good search capability matters. Pie's search engine is managed through a system of hashtags. Every time Zakbah shares an article or starts a conversation she tags it. All those hashtags are then listed on the main search button.

On top of that the system remembers everything that has been uploaded even without being labelled. This is particularly useful. "For example, I share a lot of trends around digital technology. It would be impossible for me to remember exactly where to find each file. In that respect, Pie functions as if it was my personal assistant. It just lets me find it within a matter of seconds."

Tips to get started with new technology

Listening to Zakbah her enthusiasm is overwhelming; yet not everyone has the same level of energy and positive attitude towards experimenting with tools.

I asked her to share some tips on helping others to get started with new technology.

"It is really tough to get people adopt something that they have never tried before. Especially if they have been comfortable with using old means of communications for years."

In her experience three things are crucial when introducing an enterprise solution in the company.
"First, you need leadership support. That doesn't mean necessarily having them on the platform, but having, at least initially, their OK."

Secondly, "it is important to test the solution with different types of employees to gather their feedback."

Thirdly, "ask your colleagues to help you to evangelise the tool." Indeed, this doesn't mean telling everyone that there is a new solution available for them. It is about spending time with them to show how the tool can support their work. "Your colleagues will be keen on using the technology, only if they find out that it can be very useful for them."

Back to school

As many of us are experiencing at work, Zakbah has ended up using many different tools.

"Different tools have different purposes. We need all of them. Key is to be very clear on the purpose of each of them. For us, Pie is the place to do brainstorming on creative ideas; the Microsoft Office Suite is where we collaborate on editing. Then, there is Skype for Business for the various video conferencing calls and so on."

To make her point Zakbah finishes with a nice analogy. "It is like at school. You have different tools for different subjects. You don't pick the English book to study Math. I guess the same is with enterprise software solutions."

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This article originally appeared on simply-communicate