With the HR Tech London conference in town last week, we had an opportunity to gather some more case studies, to extend our collection started at the E2.0 Summit in Paris back in February.

As someone who always enjoys being ‘boots on the ground’ in the middle of projects, these case studies provide great inspiration, food for thought and best practices for organisations.

In addition to enriching our knowledge of the wider world of social collaboration implementations, it is also wonderful to see new case studies being presented!

Grant Thornton

Paul Thomas from accounting firm Grant Thornton presented details of their “Jam” platform based on Jive. He described a two-year journey from a small pilot of four use cases to today, with over 90% of the firm on the platform.

By focusing on a small number of high-value use cases, Jam built a solid user base from early on that has continued to strengthen. Those early use cases included Bid Rooms, which are used to bring together teams working in different functions around a traditional time constrained, email- and document-heavy sales process, with great success.

Another interesting use case used to launch Jam to a wider audience was discussion groups focused on sixteen key questions about the future that the firm, which were often asked about by clients.

Not only did this make discussions between partners more transparent, but it also helped employees hear the client’s voice more clearly. GT is approaching a key watershed moment in their enterprise social network journey, with some external networks being invited into their platform to collaborate, including people applying to work at the firm, and the new CEO, Sacha Romanovitch is an active champion of social both on the inside and the outside of the firm, which means the possibilities for digital transformation possibilities for GT are looking very exciting!

Right now, this initiative seems to be focused mostly on communication, but it will be interesting to see how it could support new structures, and new ways of working, in various areas of the business.

Paul also shared news of a new network that he, Kim England of Pearson Group and Alex Chapel of KPMG have been working on for some time – #ESNanon. Borne out the frustration of being at conferences with no time for discussion with other attendees, #ESNanon set out to be more of a discussion than conference – sharing between practitioners the lessons learned and the journeys taken. You can find out more about #ESNanon here.


One of the case studies that I had not come across before was presented by Daiga Ergle.

As a result of restructuring between 2012 and 2014, airBaltic was suffering from low levels of employee commitment and engagement, with many citing a lack of information available and a lack of ability to feed into decision-making processes as being the primary cause of this low-point.

To address these problems, and raise the quality of decision making amongst management, an experiment in forecasting was put forward. Using a custom built platform (which has now been white-labelled), the project team enabled project managers to post ideas, business cases, or hypotheses to the wider airBaltic community, and with an allocation of internal ‘currency’ with which to support ideas, the employees set to work buying and selling, using an investor mentality to show their confidence (or lack there of), in the ideas being put forward.

Although undoubtedly in the early stages (as evidenced by the fact that generating ideas is limited to management, with employees only engaged in trading to show support) the 30% adoption of the platform, and the potential for employees to more fully participate by generating ideas, and bringing a collaborative crowd-sourcing approach to projects that come out of the process with a high priority, airBaltic’s forecasting platform is an interesting and innovative starting point for an enterprise social network.


The HSBC communications team set out to combat the executive-level “pyramid perspective” when looking at annual employee survey results.

Often showing stats and results that are aggregated to such high-level that they have become meaningless and removed from the immediacy of the situation that led to them – a divorce between cause and effect.

The communication department started by developing a new methodology based on the thesis that small changes can have big impact. So instead of focusing on benchmarking, the team wanted to focus executives attention on employees’ experiences.

The new methodology is currently in its first phase of roll-out, and combines a number of different techniques for gathering employee insights:

  • Global people survey: overall view of employees. (annual)
  • Snapshots: Anecdotal insights trying to surface sentiment (quarterly)
  • Exchange: non agenda, participative meeting. Minutes are shared via the HSBC intranet after the meeting. (constant)
  • Ad hoc surveys and research on specific issues (ad hoc)

The second phase of the new methodology is not launched yet, but aims to get rid of the annual and quarterly surveys and instead have constant quantitive surveys making random samples across the organisation using a system that will circulate the surveys and link the data over time.


Joachim Heinz from Bosch shared a different angle on their journey towards becoming a connected company to that shared by Katharina Perschke at the E2.0 Summit in Paris.

Joachim began by explaianing the ‘why’ of the Bosch story – the market dynamics that are driving the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment in which they operate, and which require flexibility and agility in reacting to changes as yet unknown.

By using the IBM Connections platform (branded Bosch Connect) as an organisational operating system, Bosch has developed some of the most advanced techniques we have seen for embedding collaboration in the flow of work, rather than above the flow. Their high-level metrics show a growing success – with over 20,000 active communities, 78% of which remain open to all and an overall growing level of maturity, the organisation finds itself three years into it’s transformation programme, addressing challenges far and above those of a less mature E2.0 project.

Looking at organisational design questions such as ‘what is the hierarchy good at?’ and ‘what is the network good at?’ and ‘how can we leverage these two things in tandem?’, Bosch have been experimenting with more agile structures for the last year or so. Sharing examples of processes that have been streamlined by 30% by leveraging networks, and 8 key principles for self-organising teams, allows them to understand that the highest value communities are almost always cross-hierarchical.

Where are we now

We have been talking about social business and E2.0 for a long time now, so it is not new, but as these case studies show, the reality is that even mature adopters of these ideas and approaches are really at first base in terms of enabling new ways of working.

There is still a lot that remains to be done in creating the enablers of social business change.

Typically, that means thinking about how social business strategy can be aligned with key systems, processes and people at the holistic (macro) level, the (meso) level of key processes and workflows, and the (micro) level of individual teams, use cases and workplace scenarios.

The goal for this kind of business strategy is not to drive adoption of social tools or platforms for their own sake, but to pursue the adoption of new and better ways of working. Lee shared our basic methodology for doing this, both in the social collaboration track at the conference, and also in a post last week.

Overall, the social collaboration stream at HR Tech is by no means the main reason people attend, but offers some of the most interesting insights into the ways in which organisations are trying to address the new, faster more challenging future of work in a wide range of ways.

It provides further corroboration of our thesis that the adoption of social technology is no longer a key question for organisations, but rather how they choose to leverage the value they are unlocking to build a more connected future operating model.