Active on Social Media Executives Case Studies

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Engaged digital leaders harness the power of enterprise social networking to lead and transform their organizations. In this lesson, you'll learn more about two of those leaders at Telstra and IBM.

Social Enterprise

When today's CEOs want to find a better way to connect with their employees, they don't stage a meeting or send an email. Instead, they're turning to enterprise social networking, digital and social technologies and software used for business purposes.

Enterprise social networking, or ESN, incorporates internal social media platforms and collaborative tools to make the exchange of information and ideas inside a business quicker and easier.

Many CEOs are moving toward this trend, but two in particular embraced it to the point of changing their organizations from the inside out. Let's look at the case studies of Telstra's former CEO, David Thodey, who boosted staff engagement and broke down hierarchies with the ESN tools, and IBM's CEO Ginni Rometty, who shuns email in favor of social tools.

Telstra's Former CEO, David Thodey

It stands to reason that Telstra, a telecommunications company in Australia, should be on the forefront of new types of interactions in the workplace. And, they are. They found a champion in former CEO David Thodey, who saw ESN has an opportunity to improve transparency in the company.

Thodey kicked off the popularity of Telstra's internal social networking site, Yammer, by using it to ask, ''What processes and technologies should we eliminate?'' It was an unusual approach for a CEO not only to ask for direct employee input, but to make himself accessible to workers on a new level. That single post generated more than 700 responses from employees and began the process of transforming his work environment by showing that employee feedback mattered.

Members of Telstra's management team said that Thodey was such a firm believer of Yammer that he would frequent it daily, looking to engage in conversation and create a direct channel of input and communications from front-line employees to the CEO's office.

Once, when Thodey was asked why he was such a strong advocate for enterprise social networking, he cited ''ineffective communications'' that were heavily based in an email-only platform. He also saw it as an opportunity to provide more effective customer service.

For example, when a call center operator was struggling to help a customer with a piece of technology outside of her scope of understanding, a request put out on Yammer yielded a quick response and resolution from another employee inside the organization.

Thodey's move toward Yammer integration across Telstra was not without its challenges, however. The company's legal department was concerned about too much information being accessible and finding its way outside the company, and the IT department also worried about the safety and security of the program. But Thodey was able to unite all of his employees around the benefits of the program over everything else.

Thodey himself said of Telstra's ESN: ''It changed me personally. Conversations with people were real and authentic. I learned things.''

Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

Since assuming the position of CEO at IBM in 2012, Ginni Rometty once famously said of enterprise social networking: ''Understand the social network not as your new water cooler, but as your new production line.'' What was Rometty getting at exactly? That, despite its ''social'' abilities, the true benefit of ESN is in its ability to enhance performance and productivity.

Rometty believed that her company enterprise social networking platform, Connections, was the piece tying together employee engagement and customer service. It's an interesting stance for a CEO who uses no public social networking sites. She has a Twitter account with roughly 25,000 followers, but has never tweeted. However, her belief in the power of enterprise social to transform business remains.

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