UniCredit is a large European commercial bank, founded in Italy and operating in 20 countries. Today UniCredit is creating a new Intranet platform with the aim of extending it to all the agencies and countries
in the Group.
Our goals? To strengthen corporate identity, evolve and rationalize existing technology and communication infrastructures, provide users with useful information and services customized by language, company and country.
Through innovative interfaces, multimedia and social tools, the technical and content management platform developed by Microsoft will progressively involve over 150,000 employees.
To reach colleagues via a single channel, support business needs using internal communication and facilitate access to work tools.
UniCredit is one of Europe's leading financial institutions, operating in 20 countries and reaching about 50 international markets thanks to an international network of more than 150,000 employees in over 9,400 branches.
||A large international Group has to speak with a single voice and must compete with an external information ecosystem that offers prompt updated content in innovative publishing formats. This led to our need to manage corporate communication
in an optimized, timely and accurate manner while dramatically improving user interaction.
| Patrizio Regis
Head of Group Internal Communications
The Group benefits from a strong European identity, extensive international presence and a broad client base. Its presence in key countries in Western, Central and Eastern Europe gives UniCredit one of the region's highest market shares. UniCredit combines
international presence and a multi-location approach. It is the sum of different cultures and experiences, an asset derived from the banks and companies that have joined the Group. This characteristic means that diversity is key to UniCredit, and is a means
of reinforcing its identity as a European commercial bank.
In recent years, UniCredit has been at the forefront of a long integration process, where the commitment to defining a consistent and diverse Group identity highlights the importance of involving all employees in the corporate strategy, thanks also to a solid,
shared value system and constant investment on corporate Intranet.
Rationalising Intranet Platforms
"While many specific issues regarding daily local operations can be dealt with on a broad case-by-case basis, more general issues, such as our business model or sharing knowledge and information regarding our main projects, must be approached unambiguously,"
explains Patrizio Regis, Head of UniCredit Group Internal Communications. "Regarding these issues, a large international Group has to use one voice to speak with every country it operates in and it must compete with an external information ecosystem that offers
prompt updated content in innovative publishing formats. This led to our need to manage corporate communication in a coordinated and rapid manner, through total improvement of co-workers interaction, modelling user experience on daily Internet use. Another
basic requirement was reaching our colleagues in multiple languages to ensure the widest possible distribution of the Group's messages. All these elements – adds Patrizio - pushed us to launch a project to imagine a solution that would enable us to evolve
from the previous platform”.
Fabio Delton, Head of Digital Internal Communications, who coordinated this project within the structure of Unicredit's Group Internal Communications by leading an international and interfunctional work team (over 40 employees both from the Bank's Identity
& Communication and Information Technology areas), recalls the first steps of the project aimed at the optimisation and rationalisation of internal digital communication: "In a multinational Group such as ours, internal online communication management may
be a complex task, as there is no single Intranet network for the entire Group, and in time the various offices, divisions and branches set up individual Intranet sites with business content that is sometimes integrated with communication, at other times focused
primarily on operations." This highly varied scenario needed to be simplified and optimised by creating management synergies and developing coordinated communication throughout the Group."
Focus on Content and User Interaction
Feasibility analysis led to defining a concept for a new, single Intranet network inspired by models already used within the Group, where users receive personalized information and services based on their profile. UniCredit chose a procedure based on user centered
design criteria, collaborating with companies specialized in Web usability and design such as Nielsen
||SharePoint is originally designed to integrate with Active Directory, the server infrastructure designed by Microsoft to handle network access and user profile data. In the complex scene of various legal entities and areas in which
the Group operates, this architecture is the most widely used. The SharePoint platform allows us to reach the greatest number of Group employees, from Italy to the Baltic region, without the need to develop and implement additional components.
| Paolo Marchini
Head of Intranet Solutions
UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions
Normal Group and Assist to prepare the interface concept and design. The results of online surveys and meetings with user groups involving over 3,000 UniCredit employees from different professional sectors and various locations determined the main requirements
that led to various prototype phases which were improved upon and then perfected. Users were aware of content fragmentation and requested simple tools as well as a clear, categorized information system. The goal was to develop an information architecture that
could support a mix of both global and local content for the entire Group.
The new architecture had to be first and foremost multilingual; it had to be able to direct content to different user profiles based on use, company, country, job description and area of expertise; it had to allow for multimedia in communication so users could
add videos, photo galleries and podcasts to traditional text news; and finally it had to offer vastly improved search tools and integration with social tools already present within the company.
These guidelines were to include the need to build an Intranet platform with global and local multilingual communication capabilities - a smaller scale model of the head company - for UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions, the new service company emerging
within the Group, operating in eleven countries. Furthermore, UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions employees were already included in OneNet, the company's social network developed using SharePoint software. One of the concept's key points was, in fact,
integration with social networks.
"We decided to apply the concept on UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions' existing Intranet network, which has been designed to be progressively applied to the whole Group, reflecting the requests and business needs expressed by our colleagues during the
analysis: simplifying information flow, platforms, and overall user experience," Delton explains. The main structure envisaged an Intranet network that would offer information of common interest, links to HR applications, quick access to business and operation
content and to assistance services.
August 2013 saw the integration of global corporate contents, as the new platform was adopted also for OneGate, the Group's Intranet daily information site for all UniCredit's employees. The multiple types of content are now organized according to a new rationale
and available in updated formats.
For specific targets, including UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking Division employees, content pertaining to their division and the Group are available on the same site arranged according to a specific targeting rationale.
This step launched the progressive reduction of the number of channels, thereby simplifying user experience and promoting the optimisation of communication resources.
Integration of the current platform and content with the that of the individual companies and countries where the Group operates will be evaluated in the next steps.
UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions
A Global Company within the Group
Launched on January 1, 2012, UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions provides services to the UniCredit business network in five main areas: Information Technology, Back-office, Security, Procurement and Real Estate. It is also responsible for strategic innovation
for the entire Group. One of the challenges faced by Marcella Mariani, the company's Head of Identity & Communications, was being the pacesetter in the transition to the new Intranet network for the entire Group. "I am part of a reality that embraces many
characteristics of the UniCredit Group," explains Marcella Mariani. "It incorporated two global companies, UniCredit Global Information Services and UniCredit Business Partner, as well as other companies of the Group that focus on services such as real estate
and procurement, and it operates in 11 countries."
||We realised that Microsoft's entire communication and collaboration platform is increasingly integrated and evolving quickly. For this reason we decided to add an innovative tool like Microsoft Lync, an integrated message and video
communication system that is currently fully integrated within our social network.
| Pierluigi Rossi
Head of Intranet & Knowledge Platform – Global Enterprise Services
UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions
A rather varied company scene that reflects the Group's complexity and many communication channels which conveyed information. A shared Intranet network was in use only in the previous company, IT UGIS (UniCredit Global Banking Services). It offered news in
English and German, but beyond this basic information level, it allowed access to the sites of affiliated companies within the Group: a single entry point was missing.
"When we began working on creating the company in December 2010, one of the first problems we encountered was how to manage integration not only of different countries--as many as eleven by then--but most importantly of service. We asked ourselves how we could
reach people who had different needs, operated in different locations and came from different companies,” recalls Marcella Mariani. "We wanted a single channel that would not only function as a communication channel but also as a place where one could find
working tools, a set of over 150 applications available to employees: we decided that this channel would be the Intranet network.”. Rather than using pre-existing solutions, the company decided to invest in a more innovative platform that would be more flexible,
easier to use and would ensure multimedia and multilingual functions. Microsoft SharePoint was selected for the task. The fact that OneNet, the social network platform, had also been developed with Microsoft SharePoint, helped make this decision. "Our choice,
promoted by our CEO, Paolo Cederle, was made in order to ensure that all employees had personal access to the social network OneNet, a solution that would allow us to open a direct communication channel with people and function as a business support tool.
Thus, we were able to create a shared environment that embraces all communication, collaboration and networking needs."
Synergies with a Social Component
The tool's flexibility, integration with the OneNet social network and availability of search, rating, and comment functions have been very popular with users and publishers alike, proving that communication solutions and participation are hardly distinguishable.
A significant example of integration is a communication initiative that leverages multi-channel integration: "Meet the Manager" and "Ask the Manager", two specific activities developed to bridge the managers-employees gap. In the first activity, the manager
presents his/her job description with a brief video interview while in the second, the CEO meets the same manager, while employees can ask questions and request information through discussion on the social network.
Stefania Todisco, Head of Online Community, manages UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions' online communities. She has taken part in the design and implementation of OneNet since 2009 in collaboration with Group Internal Communications. "The system offers
the possibility of "following" colleagues using a model similar to Twitter. I "follow" a colleague because we worked together on a project, because I know him, or because I'm interested in what he is working on, and I can receive his updates automatically
through a feed. Naturally, I can contact him through OneNet or through Intranet thanks to the fact that both environments are integrated on SharePoint."
The Importance of a Consistent User Experience
UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions' new Intranet network was launched and distributed to users at the beginning of 2012.
||We wanted a single channel that would not only function as a communication channel but also as a place where one could find working tools, a set of over 150 applications available to employees: we decided that this channel would be
the Intranet network, with SharePoint
| Marcella Mariani
Head of Identity and Communications
UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions
Internal communications, interviews, press releases and business and communication content are all available on the site. The site allows free access to available services and applications. Each employee has a user profile that can be edited and searched by
name and keyword (e.g., a colleague's job description). User profiles include personal data and on- or offline status to enable chats or video calls directly from the portal through Microsoft Lync, Microsoft Unified Communications solution. The content is
available in three languages.
The IT Perspective
To retrace the development of the Intranet network from an application or technical perspective, the referents are Pierluigi Rossi, Head of Web & Intranet Services and Paolo Marchini, Head of B2E Intranet Solutions at UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions.
They have taken an active role in the development and implementation of the OneNet social network and later of the new Intranet network. Going back to the phases where the need to further develop the Intranet arose, Marchini recalls the scouting and research
conducted on the technologies available within the company as well as new ones to tap into. It was clear to everyone that the previous Intranet network was no longer adequate to manage communication to the required standards and to match employees' experience
outside the work environment.
Among the options available, Microsoft's technology had the advantage of being already deployed within the company through global licensing framework agreements with UniCredit Group, which uses Microsoft Desktop Windows and Office based environments. "Our preference
for SharePoint is not based solely on costs and licensing," Marchini points out. "SharePoint was designed to integrate with Active Directory, Microsoft's server infrastructure designed to handle network access and user profile data. In the complex scene of
various legal entities and areas in which the Group operates, this architecture is the most widely used. The SharePoint platform allows us to reach the greatest number of Group employees, from Italy to the Baltic region, without the need to develop and implement
Thanks to the integration characteristics used in Microsoft server stack technologies, SharePoint proved to be the most "universal" solution to reach the highest number of UniCredit employees who access the system upon powering on their PCs and logging in,
with no intermediate steps: considerable savings are expected, upon evaluating the introduction of the platform to new countries.
Visibility on the roadmap of product evolution
The first SharePoint project to be developed was the OneNet social network, designed to provide Group employees with a single e-collaboration and networking tool. SharePoint stood out from the rest for its social incorporate functions, ease of configuration
||This new Intranet concept represents a solution with the potential to be extended to the entire UniCredit Group. Built on the SharePoint infrastructure, in addition to presenting advantages in terms of productivity and practicality,
this Intranet model was designed to become a useful tool for reaching employees through a single channel and support internal business and communication needs.
| Fabio Delton
Head of Digital Internal Communications
multimedia management capabilities, as well as the possibility of adding new functions in later versions. The social network, launched with SharePoint 2007, benefitted from the availability of the 2010 version, and today the UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions
team is working to upgrade to SharePoint 13. “With projects of this kind, we try to minimise the development of a personalised code”, explains Marchini. "The knowledge that release of the next version of the product would make other functions available enables
us to plan the launch of OneNet, knowing what we would find in the new version. For this project, Microsoft's role goes beyond technological procurement to include a strategic function." In fact, UniCredit participates in a SharePoint quick adoption programme,
which not only contributed to higher visibility on the product's evolutionary roadmap, extended to all SharePoint clients, but gave the additional advantage of trying out a preview of the new version.
The quick adoption and the user-friendly architecture experienced by the employees who already used the new social network represent an exceptional indicator for the deployment of SharePoint technology for the new Intranet infrastructure. "We realised that
Microsoft's entire communication and collaboration platform is increasingly integrated and evolving quickly. For this reason we decided to add an innovative tool like Microsoft Lync, an integrated message and video communication system that is currently fully
integrated within our social network," explains Pierluigi Rossi.
A Dual Publishing and Application Value
The previous Intranet platform integrated a portal solution with external content management system. In addition to creating a complicated content management for contributors, the previous version posed many restrictions when trying to create flexible user
interfaces. "The project team expressed the need for a communication portal that could connect to applications employees worked with on a daily basis, and this was confirmed by user testing," explains Rossi. The fact that SharePoint can manage publishing content
with user profiling, multilingual and targeting features often found in Web sites, is certainly an advantage publishers soon realised was important. However, this does not change the fact that the platform can easily integrate Web part applications. "SharePoint's
flexibility allows us to meet users in terms of communication and engagement using applications that people use every day and are used to seeing within a single interface," assures Delton. Therefore, more flexibility in content management, without giving up
good application capacity. In addition to the corporate communication function, this Intranet infrastructure is an effective platform in which to create personalised business to employee relationships and features new, advanced engagement resources that include
What are the features of systems used to create Intranet services? The entire infrastructure is based on the Group's data centre in Munich, Germany. Sixteen virtual machines, eight for front-end and eight for back-end, host UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions'
Intranet network systems and the OneNet social network. The UniCredit Group, along with many other Microsoft enterprise customers, uses Microsoft Premier support systems. The service offers an on site Microsoft specialist, who provides system optimization
and trouble-shooting support. For the implementation of the Intranet systems, the specialist appointed to UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions worked in synergy with his counterpart in Germany in order to test the sizing of the systems prior to going live.
“During the development of the project, we carried out sizing tests on the server farm in collaboration with Microsoft experts. We implemented the sizing and no problems were reported at service release, including at times of highest access," explains Rossi.
“Today we send out multimedia content daily on internal digital channels, in on-demand or live mode or in Web TV format, such as videos and interactive interviews with our managers that are often watched by a large, international user audience: the infrastructure
was sized correctly.”
Looking Towards the Future
Marcella Mariani. "Today, SharePoint has significantly improved the speed and accuracy of search functions and has made updating data much easier. SharePoint is a joy for publishers used to working with slower and more complicated systems."
"We carried out a user test on 40 employees in Italy, Austria and Germany. Twenty worked on the previous international platform and 20 on the new SharePoint version," says Fabio Delton. "The test showed that we can save 67% more time when searching the news
compared to the previous configuration, whereas publishing news showed a 65% time savings with the new Content Management System. When asked whether the new solution 'simplified the daily work experience', positive answers reached 78%, compared to 38% for
the previous version. User experience was clearly positive both in terms of productivity and in terms of interface thanks to Microsoft SharePoint and the continuous optimization of interaction throughout the development of the project."
Strongly endorsed by UniCredit Business Integration Solutions CEO Paolo Cederle, the Intranet project was developed by the Group Internal Communications and UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions team in collaboration with Microsoft, Avanade (Microsoft Gold
Partner), Global Informatica and Assist SpA for user interfaces and communication.
"After applying the concept designed by the interfunctional work group on the UniCredit Business Integrated Solutions' and the Group's Intranet network, we face a new phase in the project that involves a feasibility study for the platform scalability on the
Intranet networks of other Group units,” explain Regis and Delton, who are currently working with an international team on the analysis for a new project phase.
With the possible extension of the platform, many of the current sites and portals may be deactivated, resulting in significant savings in terms of organization, productivity and employee engagement. It will also help reduce telephone and travel costs because
these services will now be available through the Microsoft unified communications platform.
“This new Intranet network concept represents a solution that can potentially be extended to the entire UniCredit Group. Built on the SharePoint infrastructure, in addition to presenting advantages in terms of productivity and practicality, this Intranet model
was designed to become a useful tool for reaching employees through a single channel and to support internal business and communication needs," sums up Fabio Delton.
SharePoint is the new way to work together. A simplified user experience helps you organize, sync, and share all your content. New social capabilities make it easy to share ideas, keep track of what your colleagues are working on, and discover experts you never
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