Pivoting to a 21st-Century Business Model
Capgemini grew to be one of the world’s top IT consulting firms by advising clients on how technology can transform their businesses. Today, it’s using Yammer to transform its own. “As in most large multinational companies, the people who work at Capgemini tend to be focused on their country and business unit,” says Tom Barton, head of communications for Capgemini UK. “We wanted a business tool that would take us beyond those silos.”
In other words, Capgemini was looking for an efficient way to harvest the vast intellectual capital of its workforce. “Because of what we do, our company has always been collaborative with clients, as well as among the teams of engineers and consultants working together on projects,” Barton says. “But linking projects and business units and geographies so that people could learn from each other has been lacking. Every project produces a report that’s put into a knowledge database, but that report could easily sit there unseen for months, if not years. Indeed, that information might never reach people who could benefit from it. We wanted to change that.”
The Yammer Solution
Capgemini’s network has grown from the three technology consultants who signed up at Yammer’s launch in 2008 to 40,000 people today. “Before long, everyone will be connected through Yammer,” Barton says. “We’re moving from 26 company intranets to just one, and that one will have social media—not just Yammer, but Twitter and Facebook as well—fully integrated in one place. It’s all about encouraging a different, more collaborative, way of working.”
Andy Mulholland, who recently retired as global chief technology officer for Capgemini, witnessed the way email revolutionized business—and he views social networking as the new paradigm-shifter. “We’ve become slaves to the email culture,” he says. “It’s simply not an effective way to get things done. You’re locked into one-to-one communications, or, if you’re emailing 20 people, you’re probably wasting the time of 19 of them. I’d rather not be a slave to the process that email drives. I’d rather be an interactive partner who understands what’s going on in real time—and that’s where Yammer comes in.”
According to Mulholland, Yammer flips the email paradigm on its head. “Instead of senders being in charge and bombarding people with mail, receivers call the shots, selectively engaging with topics of interest,” he observes. “That makes work more focused—and if you do every job a little better and shave time off every task, the cumulative effect is huge.”
A case in point is Capgemini’s Technovision, an annual internal document that outlines how customers in different sectors can best deploy technology. It’s put together by a small number of CTOs, but in 2012, they shared the preliminary report on Yammer and asked for feedback. “Our Technovision reports have always been based on the experiences of a few very senior, very clever, technologists—and that’s great,” Barton says. “But this year’s document is even more powerful, because people across the company were able to see those ideas and develop them, drawing on examples of client work around the globe. Yammer helped our CTOs refine the report by mining the perspective of the 40,000 people on our network—and they did it in two weeks. You sure couldn’t do that with email.”
Capgemini’s senior executives are also leveraging Yammer to work in new ways. “Heads of businesses no longer wait for annual meetings to interact with teams,” Barton says. “Many of them now use the network to hold virtual town halls on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Having a CEO or CFO respond to ideas and conversations taking place on Yammer is great for morale—and for our business.”
Rena Patel, branding and advertising campaign manager, seconds that notion. “To do our jobs effectively, we have to work with various people at various levels in the company, and Yammer breaks down the organizational and geographic boundaries so we can do that,” she says.
Mulholland believes that enterprise social networking is the wave of the future: not only for Capgemini, but for all businesses. “Innovation is no longer about how you use IT in the back office,” he says. “Today, it’s a front-office revolution: using technology to do the best you possibly can for customers. Email can’t really help with that. But Yammer can.”
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- Powerful collaboration. Managers and consultants share questions, answers, and successes—leveraging institutional knowledge in ways that were never possible before.
- Significant time savings. When employees pool ideas and resources, projects get done not only better, but faster.
- Greater customer satisfaction. Capgemini’s clients benefit from expertise that comes not just from their assigned team, but from across the global enterprise.
- Focused communication. Internal emails have been reduced by 40 percent, as targeted Yammer discussions replace mass emails.