Social Business Platform Enhances CollaborationBy Samuel Greengard Print
Schneider Electric consolidated more than 24 systems into one platform that reaches across IT environments, radically changing the way people work and interact.
Communication and collaboration are at the center of today's business environment, and the stakes grow exponentially for a large multinational conglomerate. At Schneider Electric, which operates in 110 countries under brands such as APC, Pelco and PowerLogic, the need to connect upward of 160,000 employees—and present a unified face to customers and business partners—has led to a comprehensive cloud-based social business platform.
"We are a geographically distributed company, but there is a strong need to present a unified face to customers," states Todd Moran, director of social enterprise for the firm, which boasted 2013 consolidated revenue of more than €23.6 billion (U.S. $31.6 billion). "Aligning teams and tapping into the collective expertise that resides across the world is critical to success. We need to deliver products, solutions and services to customers in a best-of-class and profitable way."
Schneider Electric, which in recent years has grown through a series of mergers and acquisitions, inherited a number of different internal communication and collaboration tools. It also accumulated an array of extranets with channel partners and other communities.
Further complicating things, "Different business groups and segments had defined their own systems to be meaningful and important to their business needs," Moran says. The downside was that the situation wasn't workable or sustainable. "It had created huge pockets and silos of information and knowledge."
In early 2012, the firm began searching for a more streamlined approach to managing blogs, wikis, FTP sites, document management repositories, and desktop communication and collaboration tools. By December, the company had switched on a social business platform from Jive Software.
Along the way, Schneider Electric consolidated more than two dozen separate systems into a single platform. It reaches across IT environments and devices, including smartphones and tablets.
The new community—dubbed "Fuse"—achieved a 90 percent adoption rate within 48 hours. Moran says it has radically changed the way people work and interact. It has made it simpler and faster to generate sales proposals, manage projects, share content and knowledge internally, develop internal curriculum, handle employee onboarding, manage conferences and events, and accommodate an array of other tasks.
In addition, employees can search for information across systems and applications, post questions and obtain immediate answers from peers, form private groups, view trending content and discussions, and provide feedback about products and services.
The result? Moran says that Schneider Electric is able to operate faster and better. In some cases, employees are able to generate important documents, such as RFIs and RFPs, nearly 10 percent faster.
More importantly, "We are able to serve customers and communities better than we could in the past," Moran says. In fact, the Jive system exposed process and workflow breakdowns that might otherwise have been overlooked. "We were able to spot inefficiencies and misalignments that had been around for a long time," he adds.
In the end, the platform has supercharged collaboration. "The company has embarked on a massive push for digitization," Moran reports. "The ability to communicate faster and more efficiently is crucial to achieving the goal of delivering the best possible results internally and the highest level of service to our customers."
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