E2.0 Reports from the Frontier

Jessica Lipnack moderated a panel of Jeffrey Stamps (NetAge), Carole Boudinet (Volvo IT) and Sujatha Bodapati (ProdexNet) to discuss examples of enterprise 2.0 in action. We spent a few minutes having everyone in the audience introducing everyone in the audience. (It was a very diverse crowd.)

The first case study was Shell Oil. They started a “networked community” project in 1997, driven by a key executive as he advanced the corporate hierarchy. At that time they were consolidating their global operations. They started with virtual teams organizing around communities of practice and virtual working projects. They developed team rooms inside their knowledge management system.

The next case study was Volvo IT. They wanted to implement collaboration in the company and used mail, messenger, NetMeeting and audio conferences in a TeamPlace collaboration site. Their ten keys to collaboration:

  1. Be organized
  2. plan ahead
  3. show respect
  4. be clear
  5. seek confirmation
  6. dare to ask
  7. give response
  8. seek understanding
  9. address problems
  10. resolve conflicts

They included a guide on how to run a virtual team. They supported the deployment using virtual trainings by a world-wide internal network of ambassadors and consultants. There were not just IT people in this network.

Next up is ProdexNet, a technology development company. The collaboration tools have allowed them to offshore most of their research and development. The tools are put in place to pull together the US operations, India operations and the customer. They need to overcome cultural differences and time zone differences as well as the classic collaboration needs of why, what, how and when.

They use email when they want an audit trail and customer interaction. They use message boards for individuals projects and technical details, use online chat for quick clarifications in the real time and use web conferencing and desktop sharing.

They changed some of their processes. They now have regularly scheduled meetings. They made the teams smaller. Big teams are broken into smaller groups (They like 5-7). Phone conversations are used for informal conversations and increase the personal touch. Since the have geographical dispersed teams, they allow flexible work times. They broke their rigid communication hierarchy so that upper management can talk directly with engineers and product managers.

Her tips for successful collaboration:

  • Willingness to take time to communicate
  • Willingness to be flexible to work hours that allow time overlap
  • Willingness to travel for face-to-face
  • Willingness to use the right tools at the right time

They do post-mortems on projects to extract information and synthesize it for re-use. [It sounds like the project sites are not findable or leveragable outside the team until the project is done or dead.]

Last case study is for an unnamed global financial services company. They married best practices in sociology with an enterprise wiki. HR lead the project, not IT. They found a 34% increase in collaboration based on pre– and post- surveys. The best practices in sociology was to make sure that the right tools were used for collaboration. For example, what you should and should not do with a group conference call (No status reports on conference calls).

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