The case study is based on an internal consulting project carried out in 2012 at IBM in Germany for the IBM System z Hardware, Software, and Services Organization.
The responsible team is established across all business units to drive and lead System z growth initiatives aimed to result in higher revenue achievement, a better pipeline, and the foundation for growth. The IBM D-A-CH group, consisting of the country organizations in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, belongs to one of the world’s largest units for System z related hardware, software, and services today.
The domestic core team in Germany comprises about 300 employees from Hardware-, Software-, Services-, and Support-functions. A cross-brand Social Network Analysis was used to analyze the collaboration patterns across the brands and facilitate the creation of a high-performance team. The analysis has been conducted anonymously on a job role / function basis as required by the domestic works council to meet concerns regarding employee data privacy. The results served as input for a strategic workshop with cross-departmental focal points to agree on actions that would improve the overall collaboration efficiency and promotion of information sharing and knowledge management. A better integration of the different job roles into the System z opportunity-to-order sales cycle should bring teams closer together and finally increase the client value and satisfaction.
Based on 190 survey responses (72.2%), the following major challenges could be identified:
Hardware and Software teams are not well aligned
Roles and responsibilities are not transparent
IBM Consulting Services are not leveraged
R&D and IT Specialists are not well integrated into the System z team and sales cycle
Software functions tend to be isolated from the rest of the team
Pricing functions tend to have a far too centralized role within the System z team indicating a focus on price-driven deals inhibiting value discussions
In order to address these challenges, the team decided to enhance the quarterly on-site deal workshops by bringing all relevant parties together and following a defined methodology to identify opportunities that increase the perceived client value. Moreover, an internal System z ‘IBM Connections’ Community was set up to serve as the central collaboration platform. Within one year, the community grew to 1,440 members mainly across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. 15% of all members were people manager. During this time, 130 blog entries, 6,600 blog views, 11,900 file downloads and many forum discussion could be generated by more than 70 active contributors.
A more efficient collaboration and knowledge sharing approach facilitated problem-solving discussions online, the collaborative creation of numerous industry assets, and an increased awareness of roles and responsibilities within the System z team.
Satisfied employees cause higher performance and satisfied customers.