Microsoft’s intranet 2.0

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From a trainer’s point of view the most frustrating tool I’ve worked with is a “static” intranet. This intranet was updated from time to time by the Managing Director’s personal assistant (company will remain unnamed). If the trainers or staff couldn’t understand the content or wanted to update the intranet, they had to jump through hurdles to do it. They would see a supervisor, manager then finally reach the PA. And if that wasn’t enough they had to explain why the changes were needed. Remember, the PA isn’t dealing with the customers it’s the frontline staff.

The intranet was vital to the frontline staff of this company. They couldn’t confirm anothing to the customer unless verified by the intranet. Yet changes, when needed, weren’t fast enough. How do you think the employees felt?

Your employees are your top clients. Get this right and they will run with your vision and go the extra mile to create a long lasting customer experience. I’ve seen many companies say what they’re about to their external clients while their employees mock the message behind their backs. Why? because they know what you’re really like.

But some companies are discovering different ways of working. Microsoft created Academy Mobile to connect and share their employees’ knowledge across 80,000 staff in their US headquarters, not to mention the rest of the world.

Paolo Tosolini, New Media Business Manager at Microsoft, created a social media platform available to all Microsoft employees to share knowledge, best practices using videocasts or podcasts. I want to share with you some points gleaned as I listened to Paolo’s interview with Neville Sheltz and Shel Holtz 

  • Since launching Academy mobile in July 2007, Microsoft employees have downloaded 20,000 podcasts to their mobile phones
  • Why mobile phones? Microsoft has found their employees are mobile and don’t have a lot of time to sit and watch an hour web conference (which had been trialled) earlier
  • Through the podcasts, different departments started to ask each other what their best practises were in their field
  • Employees were encouraged to present their innovative ideas to their peers and once everyone voted on the best outcome. They pitched it to the executive team
  • The sales department started to disclose executive communications, technical training, marketing presentations, most of all competitive analysis to the rest of the company
  • Microsoft also invited their partners to present a 5 minute message about how their services fit in the BIG picture. This was something employees wouldn’t of known about

Paolo and his team are amazed at how quickly employees are using this social media platform since launching in July, but their work is cut out for them next year. 

Inspired? What can you start today? What can you plan for 2008?

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