The ROI of Enterprise 2.0: Four Ways Wachovia Justified Wikis, Blogs and Other Social Networks

How do you invigorate Gen Y workers and capture the deep smarts of Baby Boomers? For banking chain Wachovia, the answer lay in wikis and other Web 2.0 tools for the enterprise.

Do you want your company's top brass to invest in Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis and social networks? If so, take notes from Pete Fields, senior vice president of the Charlotte, N.C-based bank's e-commerce division.

This morning at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, he unveiled the business case he made to Wachovia's top executives on Enterprise 2.0 technologies' value. His major selling points included enterprise 2.0 tools' ability to connect a geographically disparate workforce, increase employee collaboration, capture critical knowledge from retiring Baby Boomers, and promote Generation Y's engagement.

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1. More Effective Work Across Times and Distances

While the majority of Wachovia's operations and banks are in the southeastern part of the United States, Fields says the company has been building out branches (and accompanying operations) to other parts of the country. According to the bank's website, that build out now includes a workforce of nearly 120,000 employees. And with that workforce becoming more distributed, Fields told Wachovia executives that technologies such as social networks would be a great way to connect employees and also reduce travel budgets for collaboration.

According to a conference moderator, Fields used SharePoint to implement blogs, wikis and social networking (CIO did a feature on the social aspects of SharePoint here).

2. Better Engagement and Connection Between Employees

Wachovia's distributed workforce has had another effect: There are fewer places where employees can gather socially and make meaningful connections. "You used to have softball games and bowling leagues," he says. "As your companies grow, it's impossible for them to gather at the company picnic or softball game. What we have learned [in the consumer space] is that Facebook and LinkedIn relationships can be just as real."

3. A Way to Capture Baby Boomers' Deep Smarts

As Baby Boomers begin their exodus from the workforce, it's important to get their knowledge transcribed into a transparent, searchable portal. Wikis and blogs serve as a perfect medium for this because they are centrally located and open, as opposed to storing information in more obscure locations. "In a legacy environment, only 1000 people could [edit] the corporate intranet, or it's tucked away on some shared drive," Fields says.

4. The Ability to Engage Gen Y Workers

Today's Generation Y workers have grown up using collaborative Web-based applications such as wikis and blogs (not to mention Facebook). And they are far more likely to be effective and happy if they are given mimics of those technologies in the enterprise. "Their engagement with the organization falls off if you bludgeon them with hierarchy and legacy systems," Fields says. "They grew up with a frictionless collaboration environment, and we need to give them the technology [to support that]."

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