I’m Sharon O’Dea, and I’m Head of Digital Communications at Standard Chartered.
I’m @sharonodea on Twitter if you want to connect or ask questions afterwards. [is there an event hashtag?]
Over the past day and a half we’ve heard a lot about how social media is transforming our communications, making things happen at speed, and forcing a greater level of transparency and accountability.
And how that, in turns, presents us, as communicators with a lot of challenges, particularly in the context of a regulated industry like ours.
We’re all aware that this isn’t a choice – social media exists, and we can either choose to be part of that conversation and use it to our advantage, or let it happen without us. And the same is true internally – social media is disrupting our old ways of working and challenging hierarchy, but at the same time presents huge opportunities to make organisations work better and deliver real, tangible value.
So over the next 40 minutes or so I’ll tell you a bit about how we went about building an internal social collaboration platform at Standard Chartered that’s already transforming the way that we work.
This is the first conference I’ve spoken at where people have actually heard of Standard Chartered without my having to say we sponsor Liverpool Football Club.
But to set the context, let me tell you a little bit about us.
We’re very international, based in over 70 countries. And there are a lot of us – 90,000.
But when you dig into those numbers we have some interesting stats. Around 60% of our staff are Millennials – that’s people born after 1980. While it’s a little lazy to say that social media is a young people’s pastime, this is the age group for whom digital ways of working are, and have always been, completely normal. They’re used to connecting and collaborating easily, seamlessly, and on their own terms. And they expect the same when they enter the workplace.
If we want to attract and retain the top talent, we need to give people the tools they’re used to using in every other walk of their life, so that they can get their jobs done.
But the kind of global scale that we work at is also a real challenge for us. Our strength is the size and diversity of our network, but communicating at that kind of scale is hard. We came to realise that if we want to make the most of that network, we need to enable every single one of our staff to tap into it, so they can access expertise, and deliver for their clients.
And so we built the business case for bringing a social platform into the Bank.
An occasion like this calls for a metaphor.
A Bridge is a physical means of connection between two formerly disconnected places. People have been building bridges for thousands of years, and over time have become bigger and more sophisticated, carrying heavier loads across greater distances. And in doing so, they help the two places they connect to grow, economically, culturally and intellectually.
A bridge not only crosses a river or a gorge and becomes a profitable focus for communications, but also, with its wide and regular piers and narrow arches, changes the nature of the river for miles around. They slow the river down, making its impact felt beyond the banks, as it increases the fertility of the land. Below the bridge, riverbanks become more habitable and less liable to sudden inundation.
And so too with virtual connections. Since the earliest days of the internet people have been using it to connect to one another, and so create value for both parties. Those connections have become wider, deeper, more sophisticated. And in doing that, they create greater and greater value.
But yet while they grow more sophisticated, they remain somehow the same; a bridge connects place A across a gap to place B - creating a connection that is valuable to both. That has enabled people to learn, to connect, to make money. Each connection, each website is a bridge between the previously – and seemingly – disconnected.
Enterprise social networks enable us to build and sustain these bridges within the enterprise that we have grown so used to doing outside. They connect people, places and communities, aiding communication, helping people to work together, and enabling people to get work done, creating value.
And it’s precisely that metaphor that led us to call our own Enterprise Social Network ‘the Bridge’.
The Bridge enables people to connect, collaborate and create – at a scale that a complex, global organisation like ours needs to.
But as with anything, it’s not simply a case of ‘build it and they will come’. Any project like this is only partly about technology – it’s largely about people and culture, and so in order to drive adoption it was essential we focused on making it something that would be useful to people.
Let me pick up that Bridge metaphor again.
The city of London has existed for around 2000 years - and it wasn’t long after it was first founded on the banks of the Thames that those on the north bank grew sick of paddling across the tidal waterway in boats and decided to establish a more robust way of connecting.
And so the first London Bridge was built in around AD55. Like this one here, they took the boats they had to hand, strung them together with some planks of wood, and right away they had a community which spanned the north and south banks – connecting and collaborating between the formerly disconnected.
Because we humans are social animals, and wherever we are we make and sustain connections in order to get what we need to do done - whether you’re a 1st century Roman centurion or a manager in one of our branches, in 2015.
You can see this, too, within the modern organisation. As organisations have grown, the people within them have sought out ways to create and maintain connections, using whatever tools they have to hand. And in 2015, that means they want to use the powerful tools they have grown used to using in their everyday lives to connect and collaborate - like Facebook and LinkedIn - to do the same when they’re at work.
Like physical Bridges, demand for enterprise social networks exists where you have people or groups who want to better connect in order to create value. Like Bridges, there’s no point building one in the middle of the forest, or in the desert. You need latent demand. How do you find out if and where that exists?
Start with research. What data do you have that suggests there is a demand for enterprise social? At Standard Chartered we have a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research to support the business case for ESN.
On the quantitative side, I said before that we know from our demographic data that over half of our staff are under 30, so they grew up using social media. We know from staff surveys that they find the lack of these tools internally decidedly remiss.
From qualitative research – focus groups and so on – we know that are looking to fill this gap with external tools like WhatsApp or Facebook. But that those platforms present huge compliance and data privacy problems, so there is a real need to make this work in ways that won’t put the Bank at risk. I’ll come on to that later.
The question is not how to create the demand to connect and collaborate. That demand is there – and is as old as the hills. The question is how to understand the demand, to create useful, purposeful communities that enable people to get stuff done. Meet this demand, and you crack the problem of adoption. Because the number one driver of adoption is utility – give people something they can see meets their needs and is of value to them.
The Romans didn’t skip straight to this, a later version of London Bridge. They took their pontoon bridge, moved it around a bit to try and work out the best location, and eventually drove some piles into the riverbed. Many iterations later it became this – the old London Bridge. Something that connects the north and south banks, for sure, but generates value all on its own, as a site of economic activity.
When rolling out the Bridge social network at Standard Chartered, we’ve kept the focus on utility – on creating an overall platform, and groups within it, that help people to get stuff done.
When rolling out our ESN, we’ve kept our focus on making the overall platform useful, through focusing on a number of simple features that make it easier for everyone to get stuff done.
For my colleagues at Standard Chartered, one of ours was search. We know from our user research that people are used to searching on the external web, but inside the firewall found it hard to find key information, which was often stored in multiple locations.
Our enterprise social network gave people a means by which they could search in one place at get relevant content, tailored to them based on their preference, social network and usage history. For the first time we have search that ‘works like Google’ – something that millennials have come to expect.
Another key feature that’s useful to large numbers of people is rich people profiles. As well as being a useful reference tool – being able to quickly look up names and numbers, these serve an additional purpose in the context of a large global organisation.
Working globally means so may of the the colleagues we all work with every day, we’ll possibly never meet in real life. Being able to to see someone’s face, and quickly see the content they’ve created and worked on, helps to humanise connections between people, helping to create greater trust.
One of the greatest assets of a company like ours is people who can make and sustain networks, who can tap into these networks at will. The Bridge has quickly become an essential tool to help our people make the most of our vast network.
But for a tool to really become essential, it has to help people get their work done. Not just the general background stuff like searching and connecting, but the actual processes of getting work done.
So we focused on Use Case. A use case is a defined group of people, doing something on the platform to achieve a business benefit. By focusing on use cases, we show how the platform is useful to people not just as a nice to have corporate communications tool, but a business critical tool that helps people in their day to day job.
A use case needs to have a few attributes:
A Clear Purpose: Linked to company strategic imperative at a high level and mapped to a business process Solves a Problem: Addresses a business gap or connects business processes. Users can do something (e.g. perform a business process) more efficiently, or at scale, or get something done that was not possible before Sponsorship: Has backing from a strategic leader who approves and sponsors the use case for the business topic Community Management: Has a community manager assigned to seed, lead, engage and moderate interaction in the use case. Also responsible for onboarding and coaching new members Membership: Involves more than one member with clearly defined membership roles Delivers Value: Achieves business value (increases top line growth, reduces time / costs, improves productivity, drives innovation, etc.)
In order to build adoption , we’ve focused on three kinds of use cases – wide, deep and replicable
Wide use cases (Hangzou bay bridge)
Use cases which connect large numbers of people across many parts of the business
Wide use cases … provides the foundation for collaboration across an organization and deliver measurable business benefit where all (or a employees participate.
support broad employee or customer bases
enable a new level of connection and contribution within an organization
are typically “open” by default
One example of a wide use case is our Global Graduates Group – open to several thousand alumni of our graduate programme.
Deep – Pont du Gard
Conversely, a deep use case is one which addresses specific business processes and drive business benefits for specific business areas.
support processes within individual work groups, functional team or business groups where “work gets done” enable a new level of collaboration and productivity
Referral pilot use case here
Replicable (Newcastle, Sydney, Hell’s Gate – same design, multiple times)
Alongside this, we’ve worked to come up with replicable models, where we can develop a best practice model for a task or type of work that is performed in all areas of the business. Like this bridge in Newcastle – the design of which was later used in Sydney and New York – we can come up for one best practice model for team collaboration, or best practice sharing, or document development, and make it available as a template for anyone to pick and quickly get started with.
So for example, we developed a model for a project management group that now anyone who wants to use the Bridge to manage a project can get started with in minutes.
By making the ESN both simple to use and useful to people in their day to day work, we make it a valuable and powerful tool to get work done.
This is the Ponte della Maddalena in Northern Tuscany. Hardly anyone calls it that – it’s one of hundreds of bridges of that era called the the Devil’s Bridge ("del Diavolo”). The middle ages were a great tine for folklore, and in particular the idea took hold that since Bridges were joining things that were not meant to be conjoined, they were somehow the work of the devil.
The belief was that the first being to cross the bridge would die. The savvy bridge builders behind this Devil’s Bridge hit upon on the idea of sending a pig across the bridge then slaughtering it – building stakeholder support while at the same time creating the contents of a good hog roast.
There’s a lesson here too, for the enterprise social network. It’s never a case of ‘build it and they will come’. To drive adoption we’ve had to build it use case by use case, showing the value of each – through time saved, improved engagement, or real, bottom-line dollars – and using this to persuade more recalcitrant stakeholders to give it a go.
So for every use case we’ve been careful to set clear, measurable KPIs so that we can measure and demonstrate success.
Alongside this, we’ve set up a group to collect simple success stories and examples of where the Bridge has helped people to get their work done, become more productive
Stretching this metaphor still further, how do you build usage and support for your enterprise social network?
There are two ways, top-down and bottom up.
Top down, bottom up growth
Bottom up = user research
BUILDING SUPPORT Top down
But if you want to go further and be stronger, you need a combination of the two, ensuring the ESN is useful and relevant to both your c-suite and your frontline.
(this is a cantilever bridge)
Most – in fact all – of the main software vendors for social intranets have designed them to work primarily as cloud-based products. They can make them work on-premise – installed on your own servers – but it’s not optimum for either client or vendor.
There are heaps of advantages to using a hosted solution. I won’t go into the detail here as this isn’t an IT conference, but to summarise, by using a hosted model you can get your ESN up and running faster and save yourself myriad headaches when it comes to upgrading.
The problem, really, is that as ESNs are so new, there isn’t much in the way of guidance from regulators. So compliance and information security may want to err on the side of caution and keep the ESN locked down to your infrastructure.
We tried and failed to persuade IT to use a hosted solution, thanks to concerns over data storage regulations in a couple of our markets. As a result, the entire process of implementing it far more complicated than anyone could have envisaged. My advice would be to put the effort into persuading your IT to use a hosted solution, as it will save you time and headaches in implementation, and for the entire lifecycle of your intranet.
That brings me on a a closely related topic. Risk.
The Cahors of fourteenth century France viewed the proposal of a bridge across the Lot as sheer madness. To them a bridge leading into the heart of the town was an open invitation to invaders.
After much negotiation, the townspeople were persuaded that the economic benefits of opening up this connection with the rest of the world were worth investing in. But their nerves were only sated with the addition of these giant towers, manned at all times, to spot and propel invaders. They still stand today as a monument to the nervousness of urban planners in fourteenth century Guyenne.
Their nervousness is shared by 21st century information security and compliance teams
By making it easy for people to contribute, you make it possible for people to share things they shouldn’t. By facilitating collaboration, you could create a channel through which people do things they shouldn’t. With the LIBOR scandal still very fresh in people’s minds, these are real and understandable concerns.
Rolling out our ESN was a frustrating project to work on a lot of the time, because every time it felt like we were making progress, someone would come along with another process or question to slow everything down again.
But at the end of it all I have a sharper appreciation than ever for the need to have robust processes around what we do. Compliance and information security are often seen as blockers, but at the end of the day they exist to ensure we’re doing all we can to protect our own and our clients’ data, and that we don’t take any uneccessary risks that could impact the Bank – and in turn our own livelihoods.
Engaging with colleagues from Compliance and Information Security early on in the project led to them being a positive force behind making the Bridge happen, and helped us to navigate obstacles that would have stopped us in our tracks if we had only engaged them in the final stages of the project.
Compliance helped us to understand how an enterprise social network fits into the regulatory framework, and what we needed to do to ensure it met all the relevant requirements for how it’s used, how data it stored, and how we rolled it out.
We’ve had to have the same conversations internally, too, to reassure stakeholders who are nervous about social. One way I’ve done this is by highlighting how many of the perceived risks already exist with existing channels.
I asked stakeholders to imagine a primary collaboration tool in which documents are distributed to any number of participants. Once they are issued, there is no way of restricting access to who sees it, or knowing who else can see it. People can make comments on or changes to a document whenever they like, and make them available to others.
My senior stakeholder was, naturally, aghast. I had to break it to them that I’d just described email. By using the ESN for social collaboration
Visitors to the old London Bridge were greeted by the sight of traitor’s heads, displayed as a warning to other potential wrongdoers.
These days we take a somewhat more lenient approach, but there’s still a need to anticipate and mitigate risks. Of misuse Of data leakage. Or issues around data privacy.
In our ESC, all users have to read and accept the Terms and Conditions before they can access. We’ve introduced simple mechanisms by which people can report inappropriate content. We have controls around monitoring, data leakage, and much else besides.
No inside information can be shared on the network.
We worked with legal and compliance, who in turn reached out to regulators to confirm, and developed detailed and unambiguous policies for what can and can’t be shared.
People think about enterprise social as a technology project, but in fact it’s at least as much of a comms and culture change one.
Describe the comms stream here.
And finally, back to the Thames. Here’s a design for the proposed Garden Bridge here in London. This has proved controversial. It’s certainly pretty, but has been heavily criticised because many think it doesn’t serve a useful purpose. This bit of London is already very well-served by bridges - you only need to a walk a short distance either side to be able to cross, and this one is likely to be closed late at night, and won’t be open to cyclists.
Because at the end of the day, like our enterprise social network, while its design is impressive, if it doesn’t solve an existing need to connect A to B, it’s not useful to anyone. To make enterprise social work, you need to make it essential – make it a useful tool for everyone, and for people’s specific work and tasks.
And then once you have something you’re confident is essential, you need to communicate to stakeholders and users at all levels about how it works, how to use it properly – particularly in the context of a highly regulated industry – and how it can deliver value for them as individuals. Because being social internally means changing long-held habits and embracing new ways of working.
The poet Philip Larkin once said “always it is by Bridges we live”. That’s not because we like the way they look, or because they were suddenly in vogue – but because bridges, networks, connections between people and places enrich us, intellectually and economically.
By creating connections – in the past, physical ones like this, and increasingly virtual ones within our organisations – that have personal, social and economic utility, we enrich the organisations we work for.
Delivering an Enterprise Social Network in the banking sector
0Corporate Communications in Banking
Building a collaborative
internal social platform
1Corporate Communications in Banking
About Standard Chartered
2Corporate Communications in Banking
…to enable communication
...to facilitate collaboration
…to create value for the
organisation and the people
Internal, private social
network technologies within
15Corporate Communications in Banking
16Corporate Communications in Banking
I like that you
can put a face
to a name
It allows us to talk
to our staff and
also listen to our
It’s bringing the
network closer. I
was able to find a
product expert to
advise my client in
I’m already seeing
a drop in the
amount of email I
have to wade
17Corporate Communications in Banking
18Corporate Communications in Banking
Focus on utility: create
purposeful communities and
Keep it simple
Give people freedom to
experiment and find their
Find and nurture champions
19Corporate Communications in Banking
Demonstrate the need
Show value and impact
Make it mobile
Anticipate and manage risk
Equip them to sell it to the