Wachovia Bank

Wachovia Bank’s collaboration and networking platform is the world’s largest production implementation of Microsoft SharePoint Server. It is effectively an intranet site that includes Web 2.0 functionality such as blogs, wikis, video conferencing, instant messaging and presence information.

The project, which began in early 2006 and was finally launched in December 2007 after five months of technical delays, was aimed at directly addressing some of the broader issues facing the company.

The US bank (due to be acquired by Citigroup) has seen most improvement in its ability to collaborate across geographies. The company employs 110,000 people across over 100 countries but, Fields recalls, “We weren’t very good at working across time zones.”

Video conferencing has been especially valuable in this regard: the company now conducts 6,000 video conferences a month, each saving an average of $214 in travel expenses. (Several departments of the bank provided 5% of their travel budgets to fund the project.)

Another issue facing the company was the prospect of losing valuable knowledge as the baby-boomer generation retired. It was an issue that the business had no idea how to address, says Pete Fields, the bank’s eBusiness director for employees and corporate services. “So when I showed them how blogs and wikis could capture that knowledge, they said, ‘Sign me up; at least we’ll be doing something’,” he explains. The company’s blogs receive around 50,000 visits a month.

Less tangible but no less important is the engagement of employees. Fields says that there have been anecdotal signs of improved engagement among workers, especially the younger generation.

By focussing on ‘big picture’ issues, Fields says, he was able to get the executive backing required to fund and roll-out the project. “Going for some quick wins is a viable approach, but nobody who matters will ever notice. If you aim for some of the big issues, the CEO will take notice.”

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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