Pamela Patton Cone, senior manager of Web development at Time Warner in New York City, was instrumental in creating two company intranets, one specifically for corporate headquarters and one serving all Time Warner companies. To hear more about the projects, log on to CIO Radio at www.cio.com/radio.
CIO: Tell me how you first introduced the intranet to Time Warner corporate.
Cone: When the development team prepared to launch the intranet for the corporate headquarters, we did a stress test on it to make sure the server would hold when lots of people hit it at once. At exactly 11 a.m. we had everyone from IS log on to the site. It should have taken about 15 minutes, but the test lasted about 25 seconds. The server collapsed. We were using middleware that had been misrepresented and really couldn’t take simultaneous hits. We had planned a pizza party afterwards…the pizza hadn’t even arrived by the time everyone was ready for it. We were disappointed of course, but it really was a blessing in disguise. Everyone who participated got on our side; they wanted to help. And we did replace the middleware and retest it successfully.
With performance issues under control, was it still difficult to persuade non-IT people that using an intranet was important?
It was difficult at first. We launched a pretty powerful but inexpensive marketing campaign to get everybody involved. I knew that unless we went to their desks and sat with them one-on-one they weren’t going to make the leap, so that was one of our initiatives.
Was sitting down and talking to people enough to overcome resistance?
That was definitely a big help, but it took more—it took a lot of enthusiasm on our part. We did some “party crashing”—we would invite ourselves to meetings where we’d show off proof-of-concept sites and talk about the opportunities on the Web. For example, I attended a meeting of the Minority Business Development Program sponsored by Time Warner. I demonstrated TWIX [Time Warner Information Exchange, the enterprisewide intranet], which wasn’t yet launched, and showed how it could be the platform to connect their minority and women-owned business directory, enabling all Time Warner companies to share this vendor info online.
Did the traditional corporate environment change as a result of this project?
Definitely. People now share information much more quickly and get things accomplished faster. The intranet also brought the company together in wonderful ways, even by posting pictures of the holiday party on the site. It makes us feel like more of a team.