by Rick Swanborg

How Procter & Gamble Got Employees to Use Social Networking at Work

Aug 24, 20093 mins
Consumer Electronics

Procter & Gamble drove adoption of social networking tools by integrating them with existing with work processes.

Traditional collaboration technologies like e-mail and instant messaging tend to reinforce communication between employees with strong ties—colleagues who work closely together. Procter & Gamble (P&G) is expanding its vision for collaboration, incorporating Web 2.0 tools into a single platform to unlock weak and potential ties—employees with common goals or interests who have little to no contact.

The Situation: With more than 138,000 employees in 160-plus countries, there are countless opportunities—and as many hurdles—for P&G to connect ideas and expertise. Through its Global Business Services group, P&G is deploying an intranet that allows users to create value beyond their usual circles.

To read more on this topic, see: IT’s Role in Collaboration and Innovation at Procter & Gamble and Social Networking at Work: Fear Not Facebook, MySpace and Bebo?

What They Did: P&G began with skunkworks projects undertaken by its IT innovation group and IT teams supporting R&D, marketing and other business functions. Once their use of wikis, blogs and similar tools solidified, P&G selected Telligent’s online community application as an enterprise Web 2.0 platform. The platform, called PeopleConnect, is akin to Facebook, with profiles and status updates, discussion threads and activity feeds. Employees use it to form and join groups and to interact through blogs, wikis, forums and document stores. According to Michael Fulton, P&Gs enterprise architecture capability manager, “Until now, wikis, blogs, podcasts—they felt like the place for the techno-elite. This platform makes it easy for everyone to participate.” Nearly 12,000 users opted in before there was any formal marketing of the platform.

Why It Was Unique: P&G is deploying the tools with groups that demand them and integrating them with the ways people work. For instance, the enterprise search tool, where P&G employees go first for information, indexes and returns Web 2.0 content. P&G is also adopting some Web 2.0 development and security approaches by testing through use (called “the perpetual beta”) and by keeping access to data open by default.

The Takeaway: Although P&G maintains adoption and activity metrics for PeopleConnect, these tend to underestimate its impact. For example, using PeopleConnect, a 150-person, geographically disbursed workgroup came together in two months rather than in six to 12. “This platform drove speed, transparency and a desire to engage with the change previously unseen at P&G,” observes Fulton. Stories like these may ultimately tell more about the benefits of Web 2.0 than any metric.

Rick Swanborg is president of ICEX and a professor at Boston University. For additional case studies, visit