Bank to give users access to wikis, blogs, social networks

Enterprise 2.0 project aims to help satisfy Gen Y workers while slowing boomer brain drain

The agenda from last year's Enterprise 2.0 Conference was vendor and analyst-heavy as few end-user companies were yet widely using the Web 2.0 technologies that were born and nurtured by the consumer market.

The agenda from this year's conference, which opened Monday in Boston, indicates that the technologies have spread through some top companies over the last year.

For example, Pete Fields, e-business director for employees and corporate services at Wachovia Bank, will talk in a keynote speech Wednesday about the firm's rollout of wikis, blogs and employee social profiles to 60,000 users to date, and its plans to double that total later this year.

In an interview, Fields said that the US-based bank has moved to embrace the Enterprise 2.0 technologies to meet the needs of the bank's young Generation Y workers who grew up continuously "connected," to capture the knowledge of retiring workers to avoid brain drain and to provide all its employees better ways to work together.

Fields said Wachovia began its Enterprise 2.0 journey two years ago when some of its enterprise systems -- including its content management and knowledge management systems -- were aging and needed to be re-architected or replaced. In addition, the company had been eyeing some of the maturing consumer-based social networks and theorizing how the tools could be applied in the business, he said.

The project was launched by replacing Verity search tools and a Documentum content management system with an integrated system based on Microsoft's SharePoint technology, now the core of Wachovia's Enterprise 2.0 effort.

After a proof-of-business case to test the concept with a small group of users, the bank rolled out the technology to 1,000 users in December 2007 and has since gradually provided access to 60,000 employees -- half of Wachovia's entire workforce.

The system lets users access wikis, blogs and profiles that include photos and information about the roles of employees. The system also allows users to access a corporate directory for contact information and can note whether an employee is available via instant messaging or phone or is in a meeting, Fields added.

Later this year the company plans to add features to the social networking profiles, along with the ability to track some user activities, such as what content he or she is tagging, Fields said.

In addition, the company plans to allow employees to create their own ad hoc wikis and blogs. "We expect to stand up thousands of wikis around processes, policies and products. That will allow 120,000 people to contribute their knowledge," he said.

One of the main drivers behind the company's Enterprise 2.0 project is to provide a way for the newest generation of workers to feel like they have a voice in the company.

"We're still working like first generation enterprises," Fields said. "We are run by boomers who are very comfortable with that. [The next generation of workers] has grown up with reality television where they not only see themselves as involved with the programming but they all vote (on the outcome). In a traditional company there is no way for a new generation worker coming in to have a voice and to be heard."

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