I attended this week a presentation hosted at Deloitte in Zurich. While Deloitte presented some high-level social communications and collaboration PPT slides from a former internal workshop only, the communication expert and project manager at SwissRe (a large global reinsurer company) had much more concrete to say about his project. SwissRe will launch end of September now to all their 10k employees after a successful trial with 1300 employees since April this year an internal collaboration software based on an off-the-shelf Web 2.0 community tool. What makes this news interesting is not the rollout of this tool which is IT-wise a piece of cake, but the fact that such a conservative company now suddenly opens up to full collaboration between all its employees allowing them to use any kind of web based tools such as forums, wikis, IM, blogs etc. being able to form groups and share knowledge across any departments globally.
They justified the investment with a range of organizational and cultural benefits that they expect but one thing worked out by chance very nicely, they could show that they can replace two very expensive (only used by small groups) existing collaboration tools that they inherited from some former acquisitions. The project was run by the communications department and was not an IT project which makes total sense since it is not about the tool or technology but about the business benefits in communications that are at the center here.
During the following apero I raised the idea that any progressive bank that would allow its analysts to work with such tools would have a significant advantage over the currently closed-minded and self-centric approach that all the banks have right now. People agreed with me. Will it happen? We will see, there is certainly a chance for a paradigm shift which is not only the case in the banking and insurance markets. And if there are some expensive not much used software tools in your organization as well, how about taking a look at replacing them with something that could actually work and provide big benefits to your organization? Now is the right time to do this.