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BSkyB and the digital village

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Broadcasting giant BSkyB turned to Salesforce.com in a bid to find a single platform where they could share knowledge quickly with different teams, divisions and geographies, all through one simple-to-use social feed.

Like a vast majority of couples with children, my husband and I spend most nights sat in the living room whiling away the hours in front of the TV. And probably like many thousands of other couples one of us, or not both, are also immersed within the realm of social media.

Now over the past few months I have noticed an increase in the time my husband spends on his iPad conversing within this realm – annoying I hear you say but only when he bursts into involuntary laughter and I almost send my well-deserved glass of vino all over the place. However, after one particular shock explosion of laughter, I asked him what he was up to. His response was “it’s this Chatter thing we have at work. It’s brilliant!” After a considerable amount of time with my husband waxing lyrical about how this app had completely opened the lines of communication up for him and the rest of his team as well as how it’s improved things for his customers, curiosity took over and I decided to take a deeper look into the whole enterprise social network arena.

My first port of call was to speak with his employer – BSkyB. The home entertainment and communications behemoth certainly does seem to stand by its mantra – Believe in Better. Not only when it comes to their customers but also with their staff, as around 18 months ago the media giant rolled out a new social network experience for its many thousand workers (my husband included) in a bid to improve internal communication and increase employee satisfaction. A team was put together with Nicola Band, BSkyB’s Chatter Community Manager, playing a pivotal role.

“I was given a basic problem to solve,” Nicola told me, “sometimes people just don’t know where to go to get things done particularly in our contact centres where we were growing both in size and geographical spread. We had a new environment where people were no longer co-located and many of our people worked with key strategic partners – we needed a practical, simple way to join the dots. I started exploring social enterprise network solutions and was fortunate enough to link up with one of our technology project managers who was keen to trial Chatter.”

With two billion people now active on social networks, a new generation of workers has emerged for whom social networks are crucial for keeping in touch with colleagues and sharing information.

Sky’s decision to rollout Chatter across its work force comes “as a natural one”, according to Nicola. “There were several reasons why Chatter became our product of choice: simplicity – little need for training, intuitive interface, reliability, ability to customise through our object allocation, investment in improvement/enhancements (regular release roadmap) and mobile offering (several thousand of our users in the field access only via iPad).”

Since Chatter’s inception 18 months ago the results have been extremely positive. “Chatter allows our people to contribute ideas, avoid duplication of effort and create a vast accessible network of expertise,” Nicola explained. “We have a more connected workforce, allowing collaboration and team work between our field- and office-based colleagues, our internal and strategic partner.”

So what exactly is this Chatter then? Well it’s really a customer resource management (CRM) system similar in a way to Twitter and Facebook, however Chatter allows users to form a community within their business that can be used for secure collaboration and knowledge-sharing. It can be optimised for mobile and desktop use and is easily integrated with any social app. It provides a social network experience to help employees to collaborate on such things as sales opportunities, service cases, campaigns and projects, all in one place. A digital village you could say!

Xabier Ormazabal, Senior Director, Head of UK Marketing at salesforce.com, told me that thanks to information overload businesses are looking for a “single platform where they can share knowledge quickly with different teams, divisions and geographies, all through one simple-to-use social feed.”

“And with two billion people now active on social networks, a new generation of workers has emerged for whom social networks are crucial for keeping in touch with colleagues and sharing information. Those workers expect the same level of functionality and connectivity at work from business applications as they get from their smartphone’s Facebook app. As a result, more and more businesses are turning to enterprise social networks to connect employees in a user-friendly way.”

And the results for BSkyB speak for themselves. As Nicola points out, Chatter has been well received particularly by those who were less connected before, like its field and partner colleagues. “Our fantastic engagement rates are testament to the way our people embrace collaborative working. We are 18 months into our implementation and continue to grow.”