An interview with MSLGROUP’s Anthony Poncier, Social Business and Digital Transformation Director EMEA and Sarika Waje, Associate Director, Global Knowledge Management by Collaboratif-info’s Olivier Roberget.
At its heart, a Knowledge Management project is primarily a human project. ‘Human engagement’ begins from the first moment needs are collected, and continues well after the platform contributes to a user’s understanding of what the organization can offer.
To connect the knowledge from across offices in its global network, MSLGROUP relied on strong support from its management conveyed by ambassadors in various countries, to encourage knowledge-sharing practices. MSLGROUP selected Knowledge Plaza, a social platform, to capitalize on employees’ natural digital connection with each other and enable efficient sharing.
Our first victory: “Since the implementation of MIND, our knowledge management platform, mailing lists have practically disappeared”, says Anthony Poncier, EMEA director-in-charge of Social Business and Digital Transformation of MSLGROUP. Case studies, credentials, proposals and other teaching materials are no longer circulated across email as they are now easily accessible on MIND.
I have conducted over twenty interviews with employees from different countries and hierarchical levels, working in various management cultures.
Anthony Poncier, Director of Social Business and Digital Transformation
- Activity: Consulting branch of strategic communication for the Publicis Groupe
- Founded: 2009 (gathering of media and event relations agencies)
- Staff: 3000+
- Presence: 36 countries, 48 with affiliated agencies
Employees can subscribe to global spaces on the MIND platform to be informed of new developments across geographies. They can discuss ongoing projects, ask questions, solicit expert opinions and help each other.
Identification of real needs
What sparked the project was the strategy director’s desire to equip planners with a collaborative tool. At MSLGROUP we used Noovoo, a wiki based platform, which the group had set up ten years earlier but had gradually fallen into disuse.
A comprehensive assessment was initiated to adopt a new platform: . The new solution had to satisfy business needs while being simple to use and — an indispensable key point — be accessible on-the-go.
“I conducted over twenty interviews,” recalls Anthony Poncier. “I met employees from different countries and staff levels in our network, working in different office cultures. We identified two main difficulties faced by our staff in carrying out their work, particularly in responding to requests for new business proposals: on one hand, access to resources and methods, and on the other, to identify experts.”
Choosing a platform based on its primary use
Once this key observation was made, it was necessary to choose a platform. MSLGROUP turned to Knowledge Plaza, a specialist in Social Knowledge Management. The platform by the Belgian firm combines conversational functions and connects individuals with modern document management, which relies on tags to organize the storage of content and facilitate searches. Other social platforms were studied, including Yammer. Microsoft’s enterprise social networking was used by American teams, but it was not sufficiently equipped to store knowledge and facilitate reuse.
Furthermore, its deployment enterprise-wide with teams that are not united under the same domain name proved to be tricky. With a long experience in the deployment of social platforms, Anthony Poncier insisted that the best solution respond to the most pressing needs raised by the teams. Once this goal was achieved, the team then considered broader collaboration modes.
The result was the new MIND platform, a space for knowledge capitalization and more informal exchanges. You can search for subject matter experts/ your colleagues from global offices and connect with them via MIND.
A MAJOR EFFORT was made to encourage each employee to complete their detailed, profile in order to facilitate the search for skills and people within the network.
Defining a taxonomy
To take full advantage of Knowledge Plaza’s power, the group built a ranking plan. After several meetings between project team members, keywords were defined and ranked by categories and subcategories. “The centralized taxonomy of this platform is built around sectors, regions, clients, expertise and types of content. MIND is multilingual and it allows our colleagues to share content in many languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Polish and Chinese”, says Sarika Waje, associate director of global knowledge management, who specifically traveled to Europe from India to work on this project. The result was then validated by an analysis of keywords entered by employees. “And, even today, quite a few user experience changes have been implemented to ensure the consistency of the taxonomy. Each month, we clean and reorganize the list of tags or labels”, continues Sarika Waje. “In fact, each employee can add new keywords but only the administrators of the platform have deletion rights.”
Ensuring support from sponsors and mobilizing management
The project was directed by the Chief Communications Officer, who led a massive information campaign. Backed by management, she received support from the CEO, who issued an email to invite employees to connect. “Within the first week, 70% of those invited had connected”, mentions Anthony Poncier. Today, nearly 95% of employees are registered on the platform. The regional directors and managers were asked to encourage their colleagues to explore the platform and its benefits, to begin with completing their profile on MIND.
“Top management support is critical for the deployment of knowledge management solution It is about explaining how to share and, most importantly, why it helps us as a firm to collaborate efficiently. It’s about, for example, giving up e-mail to share a document or to seek expert advice. The tool is close to Facebook, which people already are comfortable with, which helps support adoption. Despite this simplicity of handling, tutorials have been created for certain actions, such as loading a document.
Sarika Waje, Associate Director of Global Knowledge Management
Ambassadors spread the word
Simultaneously, fifteen ambassadors were recruited on a voluntary basis to engage global colleagues across geographies on MIND. Each one covered a country or a region. They would connect every month over calls or WebEx to take stock of the situation, and to bring forth the comments on the field; they also met sometimes. Ambassadors who successfully rolled out MIND trainings and registrations in their offices were awarded iPad Minis. At present we are focusing on increasing the contributions and bringing in fresh content on MIND from our global offices. The more MIND will be used, the more essential it will become. Our ‘New Business Queries’ space on MIND has received more than 350 pitch or new business queries since June 2015 indicates Sarika Waje. Other things being considered include: how to reward the collaborative practices of users who play the sharing game and actions that go beyond the framework of MIND and support our knowledge management transformation program.
Key points of the MIND project:
Objective: Organizing, capitalizing on and sharing of knowledge among consultants
Size: 3000 collaborators
Solution: Knowledge Plaza, social platform for knowledge management in SaaS mode
- 4th quarter 2013: first reflections
- 1st quarter 2014: collection of needs from a panel of employees
- 2nd quarter: green light from the management, validation of the platform choice and the deployment plan
- 3rd and 4th quarter: implementation, configuration and deployment of the platform
- 1st quarter 2015: MIND’s opening to all employees
Article originally posted on www.collaboratif-info.fr.