by Kristin Burnham

Employee Education Is Key to Social Business Adoption

Jul 31, 20122 mins
Social Networking Apps

TD Bank's solid business-IT partnership helped it successfully deploy its enterprise collaboration tools to more than 65,000 users. When it came to adopting the tools--a step that many businesses struggle with-- the company enlisted a team of ‘Geniuses.’


Last week I posted a story about how TD Bank Group planned for, chose and launched its enterprise collaboration platform. Key to its success was the partnership IT had built with the business: The business supported the initiative from the start and worked in concert with IT to develop a list of requirements it wanted to fulfill.

TD Bank CIO Glenda Crisp named two additional reasons the deployment to more than 65,000 users was so successful: strong senior executive sponsorship as well as the investment and support from its technology partner, IBM.

And while these three factors were important in the success of the project, there was one other step TD Bank took to combat a common problem many enterprises face in a social business implementation: lack of engagement.

That’s where the “genius program” came in.

To help build adoption—and avoid the road that more than 70 percent of businesses go down—TD Bank invited employees to join a team tasked with teaching others how social media works in a business context. Interested employees didn’t have to be experts, just willing to learn.

This group of employees, called the Geniuses, has more than 600 members today. Every week after the launch of its internal social network, the Geniuses hold conference calls that TD Bank employees can join to learn about topics such as status updates, wikis and blogs. In these calls, the Geniuses discuss how a particular feature can be used and they pass along tips and best practices that other groups in the company have learned.

TD Bank’s Geniuses aren’t necessarily managers or executives. In fact, Wendy Arnott, vice president of social media and digital communication, says that this program has helped lower-level employees, particularly Gen Y-ers, gain good exposure in the company.

“What happens in the Genius program is they go back and do reverse mentoring of execs and managers who haven’t had as much experience with social and are time-starved,” Arnott says. “It’s been a great way to engage employees and had been an important part of the change-management process.”

Employee education—any time you introduce new tools or software—is imperative to adoption and success. How has your company introduced something new? Let me know in the comments below.