SharePoint 2010: How I Made Enterprise Social Networking a Reality

Canadian Telco company Telus has ditched traditional employee training classes and rolled out SharePoint 2010 for real-time, social networking-based training that includes Webcasts, communities, blogs, microblogs and wikis. Here's a look at how they did it — and the business results.

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Wed, May 26, 2010

CIO — You often hear the terms "Enterprise 2.0" or "Facebook for the Enterprise", but what does it really take to roll out a social networking platform at a large company?

Telus, Canada's second-largest telecommunications company, is trying to redefine its culture with social networking tools, specifically by investing in the new social features built into SharePoint Server 2010.

Vancouver-based Telus provides wireless coverage, voice, high-speed Internet, and television for 12 million customers (the company also offers health care services). With 35,000 employees, Telus puts an emphasis on employee training as the key to better customer service.

Telus had long used formal employee classes for everything from sales to technology and health and safety training. But the method for organizing classes — outsourcing instructor-led training sessions — depended too much on the knowledge of outside instructors, and Telus realized employees would be better off learning from each other's expertise.

The best way to do that? Telus decided on informal, Web-based learning through social media.

Goodbye Training Classes

Dan Pontefract came on board at Telus in 2008 as a liason between the company's business units and IT. His role as Senior Director of Learning is to implement and maintain an Enterprise 2.0 strategy at Telus.

"Employees had been going to one- or two-day classes or conferences and learned a bunch of stuff, but that's not the only way to learn," Pontefract says.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft's (MSFT) SharePoint collaboration software -- including enterprise and cloud adoption trends and previews of SharePoint 2010 -- see CIO.com's SharePoint Bible. ]

Business unit representatives at Telus had been mulling over a social media strategy for at least a year but had not made progress, says Pontefract. So he formed a internal Web 2.0 adoption council last fall to present to IT the business requirements that would be fulfilled with social networking tools such as online communities, following co-workers, tagging content, and integrating e-mail, phone and IM with presence.

"The IT folks took a vendor-neutral approach and looked at different solutions," Pontefract says. "But the decision lied in bang for buck, use of social networking features and integration with the Microsoft ecosystem. All this compelled IT to move forward with SharePoint."

The company is now using SharePoint 2010 to develop team sites, called MyCommunities, where project teams, departments, and other internal groups can share documents and other content, communicate easier, and gain access to the right people quickly.

SharePoint 2010: Social With Benefits

Telus had a lot invested in Microsoft products, Pontefract admits, since it was already using OCS (Office Communications Server), Office and SharePoint 2007.

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