Over the past few years, social networking websites as Facebook, MySpace, Cyworld and Bebo have grown exponentially in popularity as millions of users have flocked to join, maintain personal profiles and connect virtually with fellow members, thereby integrating these sites into their daily lives as routine.
However, in more recent years, businesses, astounded by the social networking phenomenon, have begun to create their own internal social networking sites as a channel for employees to efficiently access other knowledgeable personnel in a direct manner to effectively pool human capital resources and advance relevant information to better serve their clientele. By its workforce having immediate access to leverage the people search capability (knowledge, experience, and skills of other fellow employees), organizations have created added value to their company, employees and clients worldwide.
One such company, Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing firm, implemented its own in-house, single social networking tool branded as Accenture People (Accenture. com website, 2010). This new service allows for employees to navigate with ease thru its social network to find and connect with other employees of the Accenture community whose skills and past experience could potentially bring added meaning and proficiency to one’s consumer dealings.
In essence, Accenture People provides knowledge-sharing technologies as a means for staff to maximize their innovative potential beyond what each employee could do individually. Utilizing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Accenture not only created a forum where employees could create and share personal profiles and blogs, but also access other employees’ provided information in a collaborative knowledge-sharing effort across the multinational corporation.
Accenture adopted a soft launch for its social networking site’s debut introduction, and in so doing, generated a natural progression of viral growth, which has therefore allowed the feature to develop and expand fluidly and without any enforcement usage (Fu, 2008). Employees are encouraged via internal marketing efforts to create and update personal profiles and blogs, and share pertinent content as to their project experience and expertise. “But more than a listing of hobbies and other personal interests, these profiles provide a glimpse of each employee’s role t Accenture, including technical expertise and the projects in which he/she was involved” (Bohlander & Snell, 2010, pp. 43). Accenture People site helps Accenture better serve its customers by providing a technological instrument of global collaboration and knowledge-sharing. In effect, it essentially provides the capability for consumers to be served from a multitude of professional sources, not solely from a single source, by drawing from the pool of expertise from any one or more of its 176,000 Accenture employees from geographic spans of fifty-two countries.
Furthermore, this innovative social networking site also allows Accenture to facilitate quicker responses to changing market conditions, therefore putting consumers in a strategic position of ascertaining cutting-edge information and progressive technological initiatives to further them in their goal achievement. Accenture People also aids in growing a deeper connection between employees by advocating a sense of belonging for the new hires, as well as, promoting an extended interpersonal connection throughout the global enterprise.
Those efforts, in truth, lead to increased unity and productivity whereby employees organically and willing bind themselves with the firm’s goals and corporate culture – strengthening the company as a whole. Personally, I believe that Accenture will be extremely successful at getting its employees to create, maintain and update their profiles because of first, its initial overwhelming success and secondly, its continued influential and persuasive companywide internal campaigning initiatives.
According to the textbook case study that was reprinted from Lawrence Casiraya’s February 2008 article, Accenture People was launched on December 31, 2007 and by the publication time of the expose, Michael Duff, the project manager who led the six-person team that developed Accenture People, estimated that nearly one-third of its employees had already created profiles. This in turn leads me to believe (along with all the sources I found praising this company’s innovation) that in the successive years since its implementation, it has gained quite an expansive following.
I also assume that because of the appealing beneficial properties it offers, more and more, employees would take the time to create profiles in order to gain useful knowledge to better serve their clientele, and build coworker relationship interactions as a means of fulfilling their own intrinsic communication needs. Fundamentally speaking, employees can join and feel a sense of pride and community by being a driving force for the greater good of the organization.
Although this dynamic strategy offers a plethora of advantages, I can’t help but think that because this involves human sharing of experiences and personal information that there are bound to be drawbacks. In my speculation, I perceive concerns surrounding users’ privacy (divulging too much information or unprofessional information, as well as, the treatment of one’s given information in how others use it), the conduct of users in the content of their blogs and other postings and in general, the possible misuse and fabrication of information.
The Internet provides a cloak of ambiguity that could enable some employees to overlook the intended purpose of Accenture People and use it for unproductive manifestations and negative rhetoric (gossip and rumors). Lastly, I believe that some employees could also become over-involved in using Accenture People on a personal level and therefore waste company time. Accenture may have a difficult time in managing employee usage of the site in determining whether the site was being excessively used for personal or actual vocational use.
The best solution in handling all of these possible drawback scenarios would be to have users sign/agree to a contract that clearly stipulates how the site and employee supplied information is to be presented and used, a misconduct policy along with concise briefing as to consequences of breaching the contract prior to use. I also think that there should be a process for employees to take in reporting perceived contractual violations.
And in so doing, it may be necessary to hire some IT members to monitor and manage employees’ usage of the site and investigate any employee grievances derived from other employees’ contributed content. From my assessment, even with these potential threats to the good-natured intention of Accenture People, the benefits far outweigh the risks associated with operating such a site. Accenture is an innovative leader in the leveraging of knowledge and expertise between employees to bring progressive knowledge and skill along with a revolutionary experience to its clientele relations.
It recognized the modern nature, positive social attributes, organizational enrichment and productivity improvements social computing offered, and pioneered this innovative approach to collectively working towards the greater good of all parties involved, especially the consumers it serves. Accenture People is the culmination of one organizations’ strategy to richly invest in its most valuable resource – its employees – and in effect has achieved extraordinary global collaborative efforts and results.
Accenture. com website – “About Accenture” page. (2010). Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www. accenture. om/Global/About_Accenture/default. htm Accenture. com website – “Accenture People: achieving high performance by connecting colleagues around the globe” page. (2008). Retrieved April 7, 2010, from http://www. accenture. com/NR/rdonlyres/0BDA7599-555D-487B-8A76-6914A094836D/0/162PeopleCredential. pdf Accenture. com website – “Company Description” page. (2010). Retrieved from http://www. accenture. com/Global/About_Accenture/Company_Overview/CompanyDescription. htm Accenture. com website – “Fact Sheet” page. (2010). Retrieved from http://newsroom. accenture. com/fact+sheet/ Bohlander, G. & Snell, S. (2010). “Managing Human Resources,” (pp. -43). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. Fu, A. (2008). “How to Get the Most Value from Social Computing for Business with Microsoft” document, GooglerUserContent. com. Retrieved from http://webcache. googleusercontent. com/search? q=cache:Vg_eUV-MjLkJ:download. microsoft. com/download/a/c/2/ac2fd45a-7749-43dc-9047-ceaea078a221/Get_the_Most_Value_from_Social_Computing_for_Business. doc+Accenture%E2%80%99s+social+network,+Accenture+People,+enables+their+employees+to+find+and+connect+with+experts+within+the+Accenture+community,+thus+providing+better+and+more+knowledgeable+service+to+their+customers&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us