SMILE: Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise

As per my previous blog past I've been lucky enough to attend a couple of excellent conferences recently. The first of these was the SMILE: Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise conference. I had always been interested in attending this conference, but sadly the cost had meant I was unable to. That was until I won a free place courtesy of completing a survey undertaken by Rachel Miller and SMILE on what internal communications is called within organisations.

Naturally I was delighted to be able to accept a place at this conference and was looking forward to spending the day some well known internal communication professionals. The day started with a big surprise in that each delegate was given an iPad mini to take notes and to contribute to the event. You can see what this looked like on Twitter.

Whilst I thought this was an excellent idea, there were two problems with it. Firstly it was a closed network, which meant you couldn't use the iPad to tweet about the conference sessions. To do this you had to use your own device. This seemed a bit of a shame as it could have meant a lot more people were involved in the Twitter discussion. Secondly there was a method by which you could message other delegates, but this didn't seem to be used at all, again this was a bit of a shame as it could have been very useful.

Anyway first up was Rachel Miller who was talking about what social media is called internally. I've been following Rachel on Twitter and her blog for a while because she posts on some really interesting topics and has some great resources. So if you're not following her you should be! Rachel outlined the results of her survey on what organisations called social media internally and there were some interesting names! These ranged from the name of the product like Yammer to Boris! I think this session definitely underlined how many organisations are currently using social media tools and the effort that is being put into implementing them.

The next session was an interview of Paolo Cederle, CEO of Unicredit this was a very interesting and inspiring session as it demonstrated how important it was to engage everybody within the organisation. There were a couple of really interesting soundbites which I took away from this session, they were:
As CEO it's important to be near to the people and telling them things they're interested in
Real leaders have to interact with their staff, as much as they might dislike it
Engagement is key, make it personal but informative
Next up were the breakout sessions and I decided to sit with Luke Mepham who was talking about "The future of the intranet". Unsurprisingly the table was full and Luke first asked us what we thought the future of intranets was. There were plenty of ideas, including Yammer, Gamification, collaboration, convergence of technologies, shared services, integration of business applications and much more. What was apparent was that the table thought that people needed to be more relaxed about social media and think about how they could use it for the benefit of their business. Another soundbite which I'm going to reproduce here was as follows:
Understanding the future of your company is important to understand how your intranet should work. What tools will support the work your company does.
After lunch the sessions continued with some interesting presentations from the European Commission and Sanofi Pasteur this was followed by an interesting session by Yammer on responsive organisations. Yammer as most people will know are passionate about transforming organisations, they believe and this would certainly appear to be true that Yammer allows organisations to be responsive. A responsive organisation is an organisation that is flexible and adaptable. So a good example of an organisation that wasn't responsive is Tower Records and Blockbuster, both of these companies failed to respond to the changes in their market in time and suffered as a result.

Of course this was an opportunity for the speakers to promote Yammer, but they did it quite subtly by highlighting how Yammer can help companies move from control to empowerment and by demonstrating how different organisations are using Yammer. A good example was Westfield, which uses an external Yammer network to connect individual shops and share information.

This presentation was followed by a discussion of how the City of London Corporation is using Yammer to give their employees a channel by which to communicate. It was very interesting to hear how the Head of Internal Communications had joined the City of London and had to work with an organisation where all social media was blocked. For them it was important to work with their employees and engage with them, but an even bigger challenge was to move the culture on. There were also external events, which meant that they had to think about how they communicated with their employees and certainly for the City of London, Yammer appears to have been the answer.

This was another excellent conference, which was well worth attending for the great insights into how organisations and using social media and some of the tools that are available.

[Photo credit - Smile from Flickr]