Wells Fargo's Frustrating Taste Of Enterprise Social Success - InformationWeek

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Wells Fargo's Frustrating Taste Of Enterprise Social Success

Experience accelerating sales processes shows the promise of enterprise social networking, but doesn't prove today's technologies deliver on it.

The BrainYard's 7 Social Business Leaders Of 2012
The BrainYard's 7 Social Business Leaders Of 2012
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Wells Fargo has tasted just enough social business success to know how much farther it has to go.

After seeing encouraging results in a pilot project focused on using social collaboration to boost sales, Wells Fargo is moving ahead with plans to implement a true enterprise social network, explained Kelli Carlson-Jagersma, VP and collaboration strategist at the bank, in a presentation at UBM's E2 Innovate conference this week. However, that doesn't mean Wells Fargo has worked out the best way to achieve the "social everywhere" potential it sees for pervasive social collaboration, integrated with the flow of its employees' everyday work -- and ideally stretching out to reach customers as well, she said.

"We're not married to, or happy with, any vendor right now," Carlson-Jagersma said.

She came to E2 with a success story -- at least, an early, tentative success story -- about the use of Salesforce.com's Chatter to support global sales efforts in its wholesale bank. At the same time, the bank is moving forward with plans for a proof-of-concept implementation of Jive Software's enterprise social network. However, neither those products nor the others Wells Fargo has piloted -- Yammer, NewsGator and Socialcast -- fully deliver on the promise of "social everywhere," integrated with the applications employees use to get their work done, she said.

Like a lot of businesses chasing the social business vision, Wells Fargo believes the greatest potential for social collaboration will be realized when it is embedded in the tools employees use to do their work every day -- for example, directly into the tools for reviewing credit applications. This was the same potential many other E2 speakers outlined for a next-generation enterprise architecture. So far, however, the vision seems to be way ahead of the integration technology vendors are delivering for achieving it. For example, Jive provides a connector for integration with SharePoint, but it's not really adequate for achieving meaningful integration with the vast array of SharePoint servers the bank has deployed, Carlson-Jagersma said.

Despite these frustrations, Wells Fargo is making progress at exposing executives and employees to the concepts and techniques that will allow them to productively use social. Wells Fargo has been trying to focus its social collaboration efforts on specific business goals, and driving sales was at the top of the list.

[ Sales and marketing aren't the only divisions that gain from social. See Social Analytics Isn't Just For Social Networks. ]

The pilot project to accelerate sales started with Salesforce.com CRM users, so Chatter was the natural social collaboration choice. "We saw a great opportunity to use social instead of email and text messages," Carlson-Jagersma said. Often, salespeople were conversing in instant messaging threads, shared only with one other person, when they would have benefitted from sharing with a broader team. The sales pilot project focused on reducing the time required to process loan documents, and it achieved modest progress toward that goal. The business loan process takes about six weeks, and pilot project participants shaved off a couple of days, she said. The more interesting result was the cross-sales opportunities that opened up when four other business groups were allowed to monitor the loan team's activities. One of those teams wound up shrinking its processing time by a week and a half, she said.

One of the most effective techniques for getting employees to use social communication effectively was to conduct "day in the life" training sessions, walking them through a handful of scenarios relevant to their daily use, Carlson-Jagersma said. Purposeful introduction of social technology produces better results, she said. "If it just goes viral, you're doing something wrong because those people who get started that way, they don't have a purpose. That will go viral and quickly die."

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