Heather Esper

Weekly Roundup – 10-23-11: Using Social Media to Innovate from the Bottom Up

Yammer, a private, secure enterprise social network, allows coworkers to share knowledge and ideas, openly converse and actively collaborate. Giam Swiegers, CEO of Deloitte Australia, describes it as somewhere between Facebook and Twitter. Deloitte Australia’s innovation team began experimenting with Yammer in 2008 and initially had no plans for mass adoption. However, usage quickly increased to include 12 national offices and 5,000 staff members who averaged around 150 conversations a day. Those conversations helped break down silos within Deloitte and accelerated innovation.

In a video interview, Swiegers recalls when junior consultant had an idea for a large client that he was unsure about, he posted it on the social network at the end of the day. Within two hours he had been told whom he should speak with at the firm about it. In the past, the consultant would have spent a lot of time trying to move the idea forward and likely would have given up on it after failing to make progress. Another time Deloitte employees used Yammer to voice concern over a policy decision made by top management. As a result of the strong response, Deloitte quickly adapted the policy using suggested alternatives proposed on the site. Deloitte also found that the turnover of active Yammer employees was lower (2 percent) than the company average (15-20 percent). To top it off Deloitte and Yammer recently won the 2011 Forrester Groundswell award in Collaboration System Management.

So how does the BoP fit into this?

Social media has huge potential for ventures to fulfill one of the core components of BoP practice. Involving staff and BoP beneficiaries’ voices throughout the design, piloting and scaling process will allow ventures to leverage on-the-ground knowledge, spur innovation, improve mobility and reduce costs. Of course since social media isn’t inclusive it doesn’t replace staff surveys and focus groups. But you can begin to imagine BoP customers and producers using mobile phones to add their voices to the conversation on a regular basis, not to mention venture staff empowered to share their ideas to top management with a simple click – allowing those ideas to morph into something big as others tweak and debate them in an open (company wide anyway) space.

Do you know of any examples of BoP ventures using social media to spur innovation from staff and their end beneficiaries? If so, please share them below in the comment section.

(A special thanks to Ross Dawson’s piece on Social Enterprise Today for sharing his story from the AHRI HR Technology conference about Deloitte and Yammer)

You can follow Heather on Twitter @heatheresper. Please like NextBillion on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Reminder: IMPACT Business Awards

The IMPACT Business Awards are seeking candidates with new business solutions to fighting climate change. The competition, managed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, is after innovative business models from any organization or enterprise in a developing country or country in transition, that is working in the field of climate mitigation and adaptation.

The deadline for the 2011 applications is Nov. 1 and five winners will be named following a review of by an international jury of experts. In addition to a 5,000 Euro prize, the winners will have the opportunity to present their work to influential representatives from business and industry at the 15th International Business Forum 2012.

Candidates may apply online or download the application form at www.IMPACT-business-award.de


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