Allen & Overy Social Software project case study


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This is a presentation delivered by Lee Bryant of Headshift and Ruth Ward of Allen & Overy at the 2007 Perfect Information Conference in Bath, UK

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Allen & Overy Social Software project case study

  1. 1. Growing social media projects from the ground up Some observations for information professionals Lee Bryant & Ruth Ward :: Perfect Information, May 2007
  2. 2. About Headshift • headshift is a social software consulting and development group who apply emerging tools and ideas to the real-world needs of organisations: consulting & engagement prototyping and experimentation development and integration
  3. 3. About Allen & Overy LLP
  4. 4. About Allen & Overy LLP
  5. 5. The world of social software (aka web 2.0)...
  6. 6. ... is entering the enterprise Blogging tools Wiki platforms Newsfeeds / RSS Sui Sui Sui Combined suites Custom build • Systems integration • API connectors Sui Sui • Intranet-based • Blended solutions • “Situated” software
  7. 7. Where enterprise social tools are heading • Lightweight, social interface onto corporate info • Social newsreading and filtering to create collective intelligence within the firm • Feeds and flows, not content objects or knowledge stores • Business social networking • More intimate, personalised information and analysis to support client relationships
  8. 8. Key characteristics of social software • “Applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them...” • Fast, iterative delivery - not mega-IT projects • Networked individualism - not centralisation; self-interest drives uptake and growth • Leverage network effects for collective benefit • Combination of ecosystem of tools, data and services, not ‘one tool to rule them all’
  9. 9. A few existing use cases for social tools • External communication • Information & knowledge sharing Issue management Ad hoc conversations and Q&As Participation via extranet / website Competitive intelligence Recruitment Employee to employee communication Thought leadership Sharing knowledge within groups Storing and finding information • Internal communications Working with contractors or partners Internal issue management • Team collaboration Intranet development/replacement Leadership communication Creating and editing documents Training and personal development Documenting and organising work Project collaboration • Marketing and PR • Innovation and R&D Campaign management Engaging with customers and media Innovation networks Monitoring brands and markets Prediction markets Promoting a product or service Rapid prototyping Social networking Social newsreading and bookmarking
  10. 10. Are firms ready for this ?
  11. 11. ... and are information professionals needed ? • Social software promotes a culture of DIY consumer self-service and disintermediation • We are seeing a desire and ability among younger people to manage their own information flows and publish their own opinions • Where does this leave information and knowledge professionals as the guardians and gatekeepers of business information?
  12. 12. Yes! But the role gets more interesting... • Information professionals already understand the key issues and behaviours that will make social tools relevant to the business • Other key knowledge networking roles (e.g. Library, PSLs in law firms, analysts in financial services) will also be more important in feeding the firm with information • We are moving from individual request handling to managing feeds and flows within the business
  13. 13. Our experience of social tools in a law firm ik v9i10.qxp 21/07/2006 18:39 Page 26 26 Case study: Allen & Overy A llen & Overy LLP is an international legal practice with offices in 19 countries on three continents, 4,800 staff and 450 partners. The firm was founded in 1930 and today advises governments, banks, major corporates and institutions operating around the world. But notwithstanding its tremendous growth in recent years, Allen & Overy still retains the feel of a smaller, more intimate partnership, with a strong collegiate culture and reputation for innovation – as recognised in the Financial Times’ ‘Innovative Lawyers’ report. The allure of social media for Allen & Overy was superficially clear. But initially we were not too sure what we needed or, indeed, whether something so cutting edge would really fit-in among our lawyers. This article • therefore documents the journey we Our project began as a 3 month pilot for 3 groups: took from those tentative first steps 20 months later we have approx 30 active groups when we first floated the idea, to the global roll-out that is going on today. • Blended solution using two products + custom Social media and professional services code + integration with internal systems (e.g. SSO)Jabbari, Allen & Overy’sout the David chief Case study –Allen & Overy knowledge officer (CKO), set Wiki’s law strategic context for knowledge • Seen within the firm as a great success that will management (KM) at Allen & Overy in inform the next generation of knowledge and his recent ‘Know it all’ case study in Inside Knowledge in May 2006. Allen & information sharing systems Overy, like other professional-service Allen & Overy found implementing so-called ‘soc firms, realises that it is a knowledge- relatively straightforward process – but one that centric organisation in which its greatest and highly profitable. knowledge assets are its people. However, the traditional legal KM model By Ruth Ward has focused more on documents – acquiring them and storing them – rather than on people, putting them together To begin with, we sought outside and programm
  14. 14. Group blogging as the centre of gravity
  15. 15. The importance of trusted communities
  16. 16. Newsfeed aggregation
  17. 17. Wiki spaces: Library Services
  18. 18. Wiki spaces: Enquiry handling
  19. 19. Social bookmarking & tagging
  20. 20. How we started • Explore: - group cultures - tasks, goals & needs - information landscapes - interaction styles • Try to build a system around real concrete needs • Importance of real workflow examples for new users
  21. 21. Addressing common scenarios
  22. 22. Current success measures • Increasing number of posts over first year • High readership on receipt of alerts • Diversity of readers and contributors • Meeting initially defined business objectives: • Self help and shared ownership – less admin • More member awareness and action • More pro-active communication • Success is surprisingly visible: 30% of the organisation are members of one or more groups (Overall we measure value not usage)
  23. 23. Our top 10 tips 1. Start small and work with just a few groups 2. Focus on groups who are enthusiastic and committed 3. Identify and involve the main site owner and other champions as soon as possible to develop a sense of shared ownership 4. Manage expectations of site owner(s) in terms of initial site support 5. Identify the group's business objectives for the site at the outset 6. Review with the group how they currently try and meet those objectives and what software they use to do so 7. Ensure the group understands the business and cultural implications 8. Select software to meet business needs, not the other way round 9. Don’t compromise ease of use - key selling point for users and editors 10.Monitor the sites and give ongoing support and feedback
  24. 24. Questions ? Photos courtesy of Flickr using Creative Commons license + screenshot from
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