Kelly Kass, Editor of Simply-Communicate.com, the leading knowledge & advice site for internal communication recently spoke with Angelo Ioffreda, Senior Director, Employee Communications, Engagement and Recognition at NII Holdings about his experience implementing and using Igloo Software.
It seems when we read about social media, we only hear about its use in the United States, Europe/UK, Asia; even Australia. But what many don't know is that it's also transforming the workplace in Latin America.
I learned that first-hand after speaking with Angelo Ioffreda, Senior Director, Employee Communications, Engagement and Recognition at NII Holdings (www.nii.com), a wireless company operating in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Mexico. NII serves 11,000,000 customers and ranks as one of the best multinational workplaces in Latin America according to the Great Place to Work® Institute.
Two years ago, Ioffreda and his team at NII's corporate headquarters in Reston, Virginia, decided it was time to revamp the company intranet to align the platform across NII's multiple locations.
Ioffreda explains, "Our previous headquarters intranet was created in an old version of SharePoint. Each country is on a different platform with a different information architecture so we want to implement a single system connecting all employees everywhere. While conducting a comprehensive user needs assessment, we identified Igloo as the right solution for us especially because they offered us the opportunity to provide them feedback and have a greater say in the direction of their product."
Ioffreda and his team were also drawn to Igloo's collaborative features. "They were easy to set up and train people on. The platform allows for multilingual capabilities and Igloo also offers video and social media features which younger workers have come to expect," he points out.
In February 2012, NII launched its new social intranet, mundo nextel -meaning Nextel World.
The first step to the successful launch was to build a new governance system composed of a steering committee and an operating committee. The steering committee is in charge of setting the high level strategy for the intranet implementation and maintenance while the operating committee overseas the day-to-day operations. The steering committee includes executives from Human Resources, Marketing, and IT. The operating committee includes internal communications representatives from all countries and local content owners.
Ioffreda recalls, "We had a complete communications plan starting with engaging our current content owners. We explained why our site was changing and the benefits of the change. Then we reached out to other employees who weren't directly involved in the intranet launch and invited them to volunteer in an advisory committee which would meet twice a year to provide feedback on the new site."
Then and Now
NII's previous site was that typical static intranet containing a large collection of out-of-dated documents. It was hard for employees to find the information they need. The new site has a new brand-compliant look and feel, a revamped user-centric navigation, and powerful search. The content on the web site is updated regularly by content owners.
Most importantly, mundo nextel also allows employees to collaborate as well as engage in a dialog.
The site has a popular feature called 'team rooms', where various NII departments and project teams can interact, share files and collaborate on projects.
"Team rooms are great. You can upload meeting presentations and send the links to other team room members. This helps to reduce email overload and cut down on file size restrictions," Ioffreda notes.
Currently, NII has 60 team rooms and some are more active than others. The company watches the levels of participation closely; team room administrators are contacted when usage levels get low.
Employee profile is another particularly useful feature and allows staff to upload personal bios and work experience as well as share their headshots and links to their external social media profiles. People can also list their personal interests and languages spoken as well as post work status updates. The ability to search the profiles for subject matter experts helps enhance the user experience and boost productivity at NII.
"We also have a comments feature on mundo nextel", adds Ana Camargos, Senior Manager/Web Content Strategist at NII Holdings. "To encourage conversation, we started an area on the site that discusses the 'cool stuff' employees are doing outside the office such as competing in iron man triathlons, performing in rock bands or doing charitable work. These types of human interest stories have garnered lot of comments and help build a sense of community."
In addition, employees can subscribe to a particular 'channel' or area of the site to receive site updates via email.
Built in language translation capabilities and a world clock on the home page create a global feel for the international company.
Building a user base
Before and during the launch, Camargos carried out a communications campaign consisting of e-cards, posters and give-aways to create buzz for the new site. Ioffreda presented the new site to the headquarters staff during an all hands meeting. Team room administrators and other users received training to ensure easier site adoption.
When it comes to employees uploading their profiles, Camargos admits that it's not always easy to convince busy staff to complete all of the required information.
Camargos tried to sway current headquarter employees to fill out their profiles by offering a gift card raffle. As a result, nearly two-thirds of them completed their profiles and an intern manually added in the contact information for the remainder.
To increase profile completion, every new hire at headquarters is asked during orientation to fill out his or her intranet profile. They also receive an e-card via email inviting them to join the intranet and fill out the profile.
To track intranet usage, Google Analytics is linked up with the Igloo platform. Stories about strategic or operational changes at the company, such as a recent article that introduced a new expense report tool, usually receive high traffic. Social analytics such as article comments allow for executives to learn what specific content is resonating with employees.
The week I interviewed Ioffreda and Camargos, gamification was about to be implemented at NII to build up additional site visits. Employees with the most contributions to the intranet will be awarded virtual karate-like belts with orange being the highest honor (orange matches the NII brand color). They will also be recognized on mundo nextel's home page.
At the moment, mundo nextel has only been rolled out to specific areas of staff including the 300 employees at NII's Virginia headquarters as well as 1200 of the company's knowledge workers and consultants at headquarters and overseas. Full deployment is still in progress to the rest of the employees including non-wired staff.
As the rollout continues, Camargos and Ioffreda are taking away valuable lessons from the intranet re-launch.
Camargos says it's critical to allow for a learning curve as the site is deployed and, most importantly, bring IT in at the very beginning so internal communicators can be aware of any technical limitations such as outdated browsers and limited bandwidth issues overseas.
Looking ahead, Ioffreda says he hopes to crack many employees' perceptions that a social intranet is just added work. Ioffreda and Camargos are striving for better integration so that mundo nextel becomes a bigger part of people's day-to-day work lives. To do that, they're going with a 'lead by example' approach, seeing out team room administrators to better understand how social tools can be used for everyday tasks while lessening the burden of mass emails and other barriers to production.
And his biggest takeaway from all this? "It takes a lot of work. Before embarking on an intranet re-launch, you need to know your culture and have a long-range vision of what you want the site to be. The organization needs to be committed to grow it over a period of time. This is a process, not an event. You don't just launch a site and everyone comes. It takes a village to build a collaborative intranet."
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