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Manufacturing Industry’s buzz with Enterprise Social Networking

by Vivek on March 4, 2015

Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) has been around in the IT sector for some time now. Shobha B H, Enterprise Social Lead – India, Microsoft, shares a few case studies to show how it is now impacting the manufacturing industry.

ESN in the manufacturing industry

The manufacturing industry is taking a turn for the better following the Prime Minister’s plea to ‘Make in India’. With government support, many manufacturing organizations are looking to adopt new state-of-the-art technologies that would help them be more productive, cut costs, and maximize profits.

The beginning

Organizations understand that employee connectivity and productivity are an integral part of growth in any business. In the past, this was done using traditional methods of communication. Companies now realize  the need for an enhanced communications platform to connect with employees. That’s where ESN comes in.

In most organizations, a pulse survey marks the beginning of ESN. The situation is marked by employees expressing the need to be more connected and aware of current events. They do not require a one-way communication via a newsletter or updates on the intranet portal.

Let’s take a few examples of market leaders in the Indian manufacturing industry.

Keeping all employees informed and connected was a major task as organizations operated from over 20 different locations across India. Employees felt that the leadership and corporate offices did not understand them well. This brought out the need for a networking model to keep workers in sync with the corporate office and vice versa.

Before ESN, most organizations had created an intranet platform to share information. However, this was again a one-way network. Social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn started influencing employees and they sought a similar platform at work. When the manufacturing industry started expanding, the companies felt the need to be competitive and innovative. This need drove them to adopt ESN.

Challenges faced while adopting ESN

The adoption of ESN turned out to be easier compared to other sectors. Unlike banking, finance, and industries dealing with IP, people in the manufacturing industry welcomed the change.

ESN initiated

After evaluating several ESN platforms available in the market, most organizations choose one that requires a minimal learning curve, is easy to adopt, and less complex to implement.

A leading brewery recently adopted Yammer as their new ESN platform. To promote the change, the HR and leadership teams encouraged employees to use the new platform to voice their opinion and share feedback and ideas. The leadership team also carved out time in their daily schedule to be in touch with employees via ESN.

The teams leveraged existing intranet and increased traffic to Yammer with banners and emailers. Several workshops were conducted to familiarize people with the new platform.

Soon it was noticed that Yammer had a higher uptake because it was similar to other known social networking platforms. Once the employees started using it, they found it easier to create groups and exchange information.

Implementation and time taken

Implementation of Yammer hardly takes time. The software is ready to use and scalable with out-of-the-box capabilities to drive engagements. Once companies purchase the software, it takes them less than a week to configure and less than a day to integrate it with existing intranet platforms. As long as organizations have a well-established authentication mechanism, it should be easy.

Receptiveness of the industry

If Yammer is launched with leadership support and clear guidance on how and why to use the platform, we see a really good uptake. In many cases where average employee base was of 1000+, 72% of the staff were on board within three weeks. And in just four months, the entire organization adopted ESN. When a well-defined social council is put in place, the engagement levels continue to rise and end up with at least 60% of the organization actively using the platform.

ESN is a key component in the overall communications strategy for many organizations. And when they start asking “Why not Yammer” while drawing out their strategy, it turns out to be far more effective.

Companies get the ESN advantage

The adoption of ESN by India’s leading manufacturing companies are shining examples of how organizations are taking advantage of it.

  1.  Employee engagement
    Companies use ESN as a key vehicle of information exchange  and employee engagement. Usually we see a mix of employee engagement groups, with 80% being work related groups and 20% interest related such as photography, trekking, etc.
  2.  Faster process rollout & enhanced learning
    ESN has made transfer of information faster. When employees used only email, they were unable to send large attachments or had to repeat the same information with different sets of people. ESN solved these problems.For instance, we have seen people using Yammer effectively to roll out SAP across 40+ locations where each state has different tax structure. The corporate teams created a group and started updating PowerPoint presentations with screenshots and educating people on how to implement it for different states.
  3. Learning and Development
    With the help of ESN, the Learning & Development (L&D) team of a leading auto manufacturer has created Center of Excellence (COE) groups for paint, sustainability, and tyres to encourage employees to collaborate.Many organizations also use this forum to educate people on health and safety, sustainability, and quality policies.
  4. Content management
    Depending on the size of the organization, the amount of content exchanged between employees also varies. ESN proves to be a great asset in managing data.One of leading breweries creates an internal magazine every month using data received from 20 different facilities. Before ESN, the content was shared via CDs. With Yammer, teams can send up to 5GB data online. They no longer have delays in releasing the newsletter and find it easier to share content. At the Corporate Office, the desks are cleaner without CDs and envelopes of pictures.

Tapping into the collective Intelligence of the workforce

 The right ESN serves as a great platform to get a pulse of the workforce. The platform can also serve your innovation needs and accelerate problem-solving by tapping into the diverse and talented workforce.

The recipe of successful adoption has boiled down to the following factors:

  1.  Understanding the workforce
    The skillset of the workforce and their age groups will determine how ESN works. Technology-savvy users and those familiar with other social networking websites will use it with ease. However, if the employees do not use social media, they might require some training.
  2.  Progressive leadership
    If progressive leaders of the company promote this change and take out a few minutes from their schedules to be in touch with their employees, it goes a long way in driving engagement.
  3.  Receptiveness
    If employees welcome the change, adoption and implementation is easier. A receptive attitude goes a long way in integrating the platform with the organization.
  4.  Open communication
    It is important to take inputs from employees to help the company grow. Listen to the voice of the workforce, understand their pain points, and take effective measures to address them along the way.

With the examples shared below, one can see how ESN in the manufacturing sector is being used to bridge the gap between workers and leaders, helping them achieve goals together.

  1.  “Leveraging an enterprise social network helps us grow our business by enabling our staff — who are innately good — to perform even better.”
    Shekhar Ramamurthy — Joint President, United Breweries
    Brewing Up Success with an Enterprise Social Network
  2. “The benefits that digital collaboration offers to enterprises like ABB are massive. Our intranet is the first step toward fully leveraging this value, enabling the organization to work as a network.”
    Mark Seall — Group Vice President and Head of Digital Communications, ABB
    ABB Reinvents Its Intranet with Social Networking Technology
  3.  “We adopted Yammer because it would enable us to bring about the cultural shift needed to support a fundamental transformation in our organization. It is one of the key factors that helped revitalize internal communication and it will be the key to strengthening our global development, especially in Asia.”
    — Shogo Fukahori , Chief Officer of HR Development and In-House Communication, Corporate Management Group, Sharp Corporation
    A Culture Reborn Through Enterprise Social
  4. “To stay a leader in our industry, we give our employees the tools they need to be as productive as possible. Yammer gives them the ability to connect and innovate with each other.”
    Ira Gottlieb – Vice President, Global Communications , TycoTransforming Tyco with Yammer

You can read more about Yammer and success stories on

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