Cisco integrated social media at a strategic level and provided its employees internal collaboration tools and intranet which employees were actively encouraged to use them for improving their performance and their productivity. Top Management invested millions of dollars in developing these tools and platforms and the CEO, CTO and other top executives of Cisco are active bloggers and initiate conversations that inspire employees to actively participate and use these tools. Cisco believes it is necessary for businesses to adapt to the new trends and changes that are happening with the rapid rise of mobility and the availability of devices like tablets, smartphones, etc. Employees as well as consumers are using these devices and other social networking tools extensively in their personal lives and are looking to use them in workplaces and businesses do not have any other option but to provide them with access to such devices and tools for the organizational success. Cisco provided its employees IWE, which is a platform that has various tools for networking, sharing, communicating with other employees within the organization.
Cisco's global intranet home page is Cisco Employee Connection which employees use for everything from meeting schedules, e-mail, and communications to online expense reporting, distance learning, and telecommuting services. For Cisco employees this intranet has been a platform to share and collate information and knowledge among themselves but it lacked the personal touch and feel. Employees were also looking to use collaborative tools like blogs, wikis, videos, forums etc within the organization in their projects and daily activities. Cisco in 2009 developed Integrated Workforce Experience (IWE) an internal collaboration platform that employees can use effectively to connect, communicate, and collaborate with people and communities, as well as share information for organizational growth, encourage innovation and create sustainable productivity. In 2010 Cisco moved IWE to Cisco Quad environment which provides all the social networking tools like blogs, Facebook and twitter styled, YouTube styled video sharing sites, etc to all the employees internally.
IWE allows employees to find and connect with experts within the organization through an internal directory similar to Facebook with employee profiles that highlight their expertise, activities and interests and helps in socializing among employees. Employees can also create communities and organize into groups based on their work, expertise, interests, hobbies, etc and collaborate and share knowledge for the organizational success. Employees share content in the form of documents, videos, blog posts, discussion forums and IWE is the most important source of data and information for the employees and they can distribute the information easily with IWE. Another important feature of IWE is personalized workspaces for the employees called My View which is user defined home page that provides access for people, communities, news, applications and events and also provide the necessary updates and activities of various connected employees and member communities. Employees can easily interact with the internal systems of Cisco easily through IWE and use it in their daily activities and transactions.
According to Cisco, key statistics highlight the IWE use among employees as of mid 2011: Nearly 87,000 unique visitors with software developers and salespeople comprising the largest portions of this total. More than 900,000 visits to the IWE site per quarter and the overall average of 6.05 visits per week per user indicates that IWE has become a regular part of employees’ work activity. More than 1000 IWE communities created, of which slightly more than half are open to all IWE users. The number of communities has quadrupled in one year as employees see IWE's value for sharing information and resources with colleagues by project, location, interest, etc. Almost 14,000 IWE users "follow" other users in order to receive alerts when those employees posed new information or take other action within IWE. The follow capability is especially effective for technical experts and managers who post resources of interest to multiple colleagues within their department or across the company. Statistics also show the popularity of IWE features: A 25 percent increase in the number of IWE discussion forum messages in one month. 1,400 videos created by Cisco employees and embedded in IWE for on-demand viewing via the Cisco Show and Share solution. (Source: How Cisco IT Evolved
Social Software and Collaboration) Enterprise
Cisco employees are provided with the necessary guidelines and policy is in place to control the social media activity and the strategy for social media is determined by a team of ten people called centre of excellence. Within each department responsibility lies with specific people who control the activities. Employees are trained through 30 workshops which trains employees in terms of social media policy and how to behave on social media platforms and necessary certifications are provided once they complete the trainings and the people who control the social media activity and participate in the social media strategy formulation these trainings are must. Cisco Social Media Policy also encourages employee participation in various platforms and they are also provided with incentives for such participation. Employees who are key contributors are rewarded through mentions in newsletters, annual awards and also team awards are given for active participation. The social media participation with customers and other employees is also a KPI in the employee annual performance review process. Employees are also provided with the support of the technical experts who will help in the participation on the social media platforms and create, distribute content like videos, blog posts, documents, etc.
Cisco created a culture within the organization that actively supports the use of various social networking tools within the organization by the employees to collaborate, communicate and share knowledge. The quad based IWE is at the centre of this and top management use of Video conferencing, blogs, wikis and podcasts as part of the communication with the employees has encouraged employees even more too actively use the social media tools as evident in the usage statistics. Cisco has realized significant business value in terms of cost savings, improved employee productivity, and transformed business processes through the IWE platform. Cisco gained between US$3 million and $24 million in the value of increased employee productivity based on IWE usage and expects to increase to between $9 million and $68 million by mid-2012 based on increased adoption. Cisco also benefited in increased sales of products as employees and sales teams collaborate effectively in driving sales. Cisco also uses social media actively in its B2B initiatives with customers and channel partners. With tremendous success of Quad internally within Cisco, Cisco sold the Quad offering externally to customers and Cisco has 50 companies — about 700,000 users — paying for the service.