There comes a time, regardless of its sector or size, when every organization has to finally embrace the digital revolution and thus its own digital transformation. Some companies, generally those most exposed to it, have already taken up the challenge. Collaboration and transformation are increasingly being brought together.
As far as broad and profound actions, AccorHotels, Axa, Orange and Schneider Electric stand out from the crowd. Even if they don’t face the same challenges or emergencies, they’re united on several key points, and their development of collaboration practices is a shared priority.
For Schneider Electric, this is even one of the three strategic areas of its digital transformation, along with renewal of customer relations and development of new offerings, as CEO France Christel Heydemann emphasized in May 2017.
Digital transformation: it’s everyone’s business
These four giants rely on social networks—one of the building blocks of their collaborative system—all deployed between 2010 and 2013. The phase of discovery and exploration of uses is now giving way to a generalized collaborative challenge.
As François-Régis Martin, Chief Digital Officer of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, reminds us, “no digital transformation is possible unless the whole company gets on board.” This professional-equipment financing and leasing specialist is leading renovation of work practices among its 3,200 employees, with digitalization of operations and development of mobile business applications.
The first and most advanced site is serving the other two. Transforming sales, for example, requires onboarding sales staff, making them more digitally literate, and giving them the means to react more nimbly to the expectations of increasingly informed, demanding and hurried customers. Ditto for sales representatives’ internal contacts within the company.
Collective intelligence: now that works!
Thanks to their ability to unite all employees and facilitate organization of teamwork, social networks make it possible to mobilize collective intelligence and make the company more responsive. And it works! This is illustrated in many areas, but particularly in a few key scenarios.
Responding to calls for tenders is one of them. If many companies have won contracts, it’s because they’ve managed to find a rare skill in a remote subsidiary, consolidating online community customer information that was previously scattered across several departments, or facilitating coordination among different fields to build a global proposal.
All companies can benefit from it
Sharing resources and best practices online—business or otherwise—is a common challenge for companies of all sizes, especially when teams are geographically scattered.
At In Extenso, an accounting group of 220 agencies, a firm was able to satisfy the request of one client who was setting up a cab company. He posted a business model request on the social network and got four replies. While many businesses can share similar stories, this one has its own special flavor.
As with most highly regulated professions, accountants are not the quickest to adopt digital tools. For In Extenso’s associate marketing director, “Use is the first factor for creating change.” In other words, if users find it beneficial, they change their practices.
In search of organizational agility
Social networks and the business communities they host are helping organizations evolve with more agile management methods and processes, which is the stated objective of many companies in order to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. “Agility is above all a state of mind acquired through collective action,” says Nicolas Malaquin, Director of Innovation and Transformation at PMU. Its main principles, put into practice by the IT teams, can be integrated into all the company’s activities.
Human resources are involved in several areas. The rigidity of the recruitment process is one obstacle to transformation. This is illustrated right from the start of the project when appointing a chief digital officer and putting together a team to support him or her. “The process takes anywhere from one to one and a half years in a large company,” says Emmanuel Vivier, co-founder of Hub Institute and co-author of the digital transformation guide. “This cumbersome process is just as penalizing afterwards, when recruitment targets the highly coveted talents of web developers, data scientists, and marketing specialists.”
Admittedly, the social network doesn’t play a direct role in recruitment, even though experiments have been conducted to put candidates in direct contact with operational staff who demonstrate the richness of their profession. However, it does appear to be an argument in the service of the employer brand and subsequently facilitates the integration of recruits, as the widespread use of onboarding communities proves.
Fighting fears and disengagement
If unaccompanied (or poorly accompanied), digital transformation and the changes it induces can raise fears among outlying collaborators who feel overwhelmed and questioned. These fears are exacerbated at the time of the transformation and feed a disengagement that has been steadily increasing over the last ten years. In 2018, Malakoff Médéric’s annual “Employee Health and Well-Being” study revealed that in the private sector, one employee in five felt merely being present at work and discouraged by the weight of management, excessive procedures, lack of recognition and misunderstanding of changes underway.
The social network is obviously not the magic pill for all these ills, but a tool for allowing social cohesion that helps rebuild ties with employees—with a visible impact on maintaining a relationship of trust between employees and the company.
The challenge of adopting new tools
Orange had set itself the goal of reaching 50% active users on its Plazza platform by 2017. A ratio that Air France should reach by the end of the year. These two companies consider that once a majority of employees take ownership of the social network, their colleagues feel impelled to follow suit. While the pace of adoption may seem slow for tools deployed in 2010 for the former and in 2013 for the latter, other collaborative tools—which appeared in the second half of the 1990s—took longer to gain popularity. In other entities, which have made the Talkspirit enterprise social network their main working platform, such as the ESN Squad or the Caisse primaire d’Assurance Maladie of Bas-Rhin, the monthly rate of active users has reached record levels (85% and 78% respectively). Quite simply, the more those tools bring added value (services) to employees, the more they will be used.
Customer story: Facilitating the transformation of Mutuelle Nationale Territoriale (MNT)
One figure sums up the extent and speed with which the MNT has carried out its organizational and managerial overhaul: 1,000 of the 1,125 employees changed function or reporting line in 2017. Its deputy managing director in charge of HR and resource management, Marie-Laure Saillard, believes that the internal social network has played an obvious facilitating role. “Employees from around 100 locations were involved in designing the overhaul of the distribution network. They came together in an online community to exchange and pass on their recommendations to the line management. The social network was also used to keep the entire company informed of decisions and progress throughout the entire project. Bringing together the operational change management committee and their liaisons, the biweekly online conferences were filmed and posted in an online community. Today, tools such as the livestream (available natively on Talkspirit since 2019) make it possible to share highlights even more widely with the entire company.”
Digital transformation best practices
Transformation is a source of anxiety. Creating online communities allows everyone to be informed of the progress of a project, to understand and respond to employees’ causes of apprehension, and to involve them in the implementation of major decisions. Meetings and social networking are an opportunity for the digital team to gather employees’ feedback and incorporate it into strategic memos. The latter are better received by the teams, who then feel better listened to and considered.
Seventy percent of all transformation projects fail or do not achieve their objectives. The main reason: a lack of support that prevents the vision senior management targets from being attained.