Here’s the story: I was hired by Deloitte LLP in 2006, on a contract basis, where I managed the Internet Research team for the Sourcing &Talent Acquisition group. In 2007, I accepted a full-time offer. At the same time, I had already been majorly entrenched, intrigued and fascinated by social media networks. For example, I was member #131,975 when I first joined LinkedIn in 2004. LinkedIn now has more than 225 million members which put me in the top .05% of early adopters. Why does this matter? Because I immediately saw the value of creating a personal network, and it was perfect for our sourcing and recruiting efforts. I was pleased to provide “how-to” trainings for the team, and was always on the look-out for “cool tools” which would enable us to be more efficient and cutting-edge in our sourcing and recruiting efforts.
Enter 2008: as a self-professed “data geek” I was intrigued by the announcement that a start-up called Yammer won top prize at TechCrunch50 on September 10, 2008. On September 11, a colleague and I decided to sign up and start the “Deloitte Unofficial Network”. Mind you, a company like Deloitte is usually very cautious and had a certain type of hierarchy when it came to sharing information. Example: staff members were usually not allowed to send mass emails. Those who were allowed to would have to get prior approval. The information that was being shared was typically only with teams of similar interest, and was not benefitting other teams.
This network grew organically from the Talent Acquisition team: we would share tips and tricks, best practices, competitive intelligence and general knowledge sharing and collaboration. Word of Yammer spread, and grew organically. People started creating specific interest groups and getting to “know each other” in this very large organization. Employees started asking for Yammer from varied topics such as employee onboarding, to creating virtual team meetings, to management training and more. In about one year, there were about 3,000 members, with over 11,000 messages of a total of approximately 40,000 US employees.
Another source of inspiration was Deloitte Australia who had also adopted Yammer in 2008, with their forward-thinking CEOs Pete Williams and Giam Swiegers joining the networks and successfully implementing the enterprise version. You can read about the Deloitte Australia Network evolution here. Deloitte South Africa and Deloitte UK also successfully implemented formal enterprise networks.
But there was still a bit of a challenge with the free version of Yammer we were using, which allowed us to only add members with deloitte.com email aliases: how could we add other Deloitte member firms (e.g. @deloitte.it, deloitte.fr,@tohmatsu.co.jp, etc) so that we could really be inclusive and collaborate? Enter 2009, where I transferred over to the global arm at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd as Global Online Communications Manager. I was tasked with communicating with all the member firms, so I found the solution with Socialcast, and started a Deloitte Unofficial Network with
the awesome help of Tim and Carrie Young, founders of Socialcast. While that network grew at a slower rate than Yammer, it was clear there was a “hunger” for Deloitte employees to feel more globally connected, wanting to tap into this wealth of knowledge and experience to help them do their job better, decrease the amount of time it took to figure out a problem, and research an idea or implement a project.
At this point, there were many disparate ways for employees and leadership to connect: an internal portal, SharePoint sites, blogs, wikis, e-newsletters, email, IM, Yammer, and Socialcast. Leadership started paying attention to what was going on with this new collaborative environment, and was seeing the benefits and value of the unofficial networks. Slowly, leadership starting joining the networks, and perhaps more than being active, was seeing that actual productive work was being carried on.
One of leadership’s big concerns: how secure were all these networks? Are people chatting about confidential information? Is there inappropriate usage? Surprisingly, with my help and a few other community managers, everyone was being very professional and the results reflected that. Cap Gemini had a similar story, and deployed the enterprise version of their network in July of 2011. In November of 2011, Deloitte officially adopted Yammer as its global collaboration tool of choice, in keeping with the “As One” vision, with 195,000 employees finally globally connected. Apparently, the Deloitte Yammer network is the largest in the world.
Enter 2012: when Microsoft recruited me for social recruiting and employment branding strategies, I felt I had come full-circle with Deloitte: from my early beginnings teaching team members on the value and usage of social media, to being an integral part of crafting external social media policies, guidelines and strategies (I managed and grew the Deloitte Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube accounts), to my proudest accomplishment, helping connect 195,000 global employees on Yammer: opening the channels of communication between global colleagues, not just those who they work with every day, but all of them.
While at Microsoft, Yammer had just been bought by Microsoft. I immediately jumped in and started to evangelize Yammer’s benefits company-wide, and was quickly named their best “Yambassador”. I was also flattered to have been offered the position of Community Manager. Alas, I felt my corporate days were over at that point, and truly wished the best to the Yammer team with their new “family”. I had visited them in their San Francisco headquarters a few years prior and had always admired their culture.
So, since October 2012, I have chosen the path of entrepreneurship, and I look forward to some exciting collaboration with various innovative start-ups…stay tuned. More to come
Wise words: “How can you apply Getting Real-ish ideas inside a big company? Here’s an idea: Go rogue. Pick something and do it under the radar. Create something in a few weeks that normally takes a few months. Do something in a way that works better than the status quo (or shows the promise of working better). Then you won’t need to convince anyone with words — the results will speak for themselves.” ~37 Signals (H/T @AppsLab)