Unisys is a global IT services company with 23,000 employees. As a services and solutions leader, Unisys had a strong knowledge management infrastructure focused on sales and delivery methodologies and reusable artifacts. With the advent of social computing technologies referred to as Web 2.0, Unisys saw an opportunity to extend its infrastructure to connect people with expertise and information in real time. Through its own experience, Unisys would be able to assist clients in understanding how best to apply the new social computing technologies in their enterprises. Unisys deployed Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and embarked on a global initiative that would refresh its technologies, business practices, and governance model to include social computing. Situation
As a global IT services company, Unisys early recognized the impact that Web 2.0 technologies could have on helping clients modernize their business applications. As a consultative partner with its clients, Unisys is in the business of creating innovative services and solutions through thought leadership. It wanted to be an early adopter to share its knowledge and expertise with clients that it knew would be traveling the same path.
At the same time, more and more of its own employees were using externally available social media to collaborate and share information. This posed a security risk, as Unisys did not manage the environment, could not control who had access, and could not capture the tacit and explicit knowledge being shared. It also provided limited benefit in that it was being used by only a subset of employees with no way of validating the accuracy of the expertise being shared. Unisys recognized the value of social collaboration and wanted an internal solution that would foster innovation, support new ways of working, and meet the expectations of new hires joining a leading technology services company.
||SharePoint Server 2010 has made enterprise social computing possible. Enhancements to Search and My Site pages enable seamless expertise discovery and professional networking.
Director, Knowledge Strategy and Governance, Unisys
In addition, Unisys had just welcomed a new chief executive officer (CEO), Ed Coleman, who was a great communicator and wanted to know everyone and everything about the new business he would be leading.
“Sharpening our organization, creating transparency, and improving access to our intellectual assets [people] could only increase our flexibility and responsiveness,” says Coleman.
Coleman introduced a program of simplification and a sharpened focus on core strengths. Integral to that plan was creating an environment of transparency, knowledge-sharing, and expertise discovery that would permeate the culture and empower employees to efficiently and competitively deliver services and solutions to the market.
At the time, Unisys was using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as the foundation for its knowledge management system. Employees used Office SharePoint My Site pages to maintain their professional profiles, yet they were being used inconsistently with no real way of virally connecting people with expertise beyond doing a basic people search. There was also no way of distinguishing someone with expertise from a company-designated subject matter expert.
SharePoint search was also providing limited value, as it would provide thousands of results with no way of refining the result to get to what employees were looking for. There was also no indication of content value, so employees would have to manually go through documents to assess value and reusability. In most cases, they would rely on navigating the company’s authoritative knowledge sources, perusing community content, or contacting colleagues.
“Our inability to quickly locate expertise and identify high-value knowledge assets was limiting our agility in responding rapidly to changes in our business and our clients’ business,” says Rajiv Prasad, Director, Operations, Chief Technology Office at Unisys. “We knew we needed a more robust social computing platform, more creative knowledge management solutions, and a fundamental change to the way we worked.” Solution
At the direction of CEO Coleman, Unisys launched a knowledge and collaboration initiative. This initiative was viewed by leadership as critical to achieving the company’s strategic vision and goals.
The initiative was led by the Unisys Chief Technology Office and Corporate IT staff. An advisory council comprised of stakeholders from all areas of the business was formed to contribute to the development of the strategic roadmap and be responsible for implementation, measurement, and adoption within their specific business areas.
“Cross-organization stakeholder involvement and a top-down leadership support model are essential drivers in achieving and sustaining a successful knowledge sharing and collaboration environment,” says Gloria Burke, Director, Knowledge Strategy and Governance at Unisys. “People support what they help to build.”
As a Microsoft Alliance Partner, Unisys was aware of the Web 2.0 enhancements being made to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Seeing this as an opportunity, it participated in the SharePoint Server 2010 Rapid Deployment Program.
||Sharpening our organization, creating transparency, and improving access to our intellectual assets [people] could only increase our flexibility and responsiveness.
Chief Executive Officer, Unisys
Early access enabled Unisys to understand the business use cases of the built-in social computing features of SharePoint Server 2010 such as blogs, wikis, personalized news feeds, and status updates on My Site pages. It could also see the enhanced power of search and My Site as they complemented one another in exposing high-value content and people-matching search queries. Working together, search and My Site pages would make it much easier for employees to discover high-value content and people and grow professionally by adding people as colleagues and following their activities by using their My Site pages.
SharePoint Server 2010 search refiners allow employees to filter search results into useful categories such as date, content type, location, or author. Best Bets allow Unisys to highlight websites containing the company’s authoritative content. Employees can also indicate which content they find most helpful by tagging it. This moves higher-value content to the top of the search-results page and improves relevancy ranking to provide richer search results. “Did you mean” suggestions take advantage of the user’s prior search entries and help employees hone in on the right material. People Matches also indicate people with expertise in their profile matching the search criteria.
Unisys also discovered ways of building on what SharePoint Server offered to develop solutions specific to its social computing needs:
Microblogging and Expertise Discovery - As of late 2009, Unisys had about 1,000 employees using externally available microblogging tools to collaborate and share knowledge. Unisys did not want to curtail this creativity and conversation but needed for it to happen in a secure environment to protect the company’s intellectual assets. By adding NewsGator Social Sites 2010 on top of SharePoint Server 2010, Unisys was able to provide an even better microblog solution. Employees can now share posts and ask questions either on their My Site or Community Site and have a rolling and filterable newsfeed. Using the My Site “Ask Me About Feature” allows employees to embed keyword #hashtags in questions which then are matched against employees’ “Ask Me About” field in their My Site profile. This connects people with expertise. People with that keyword in their profile receive an email message detailing that someone was looking for expertise related to their “Ask Me About” term. The newsfeed is even more robust than what was previously available, as not only does it reflect posts and questions but it includes SharePoint Server activities such as blog and document posts and human resource (HR) events such as a new manager or organizational change.
Subject Matter Expert Discovery – While SharePoint People Search was great at identifying people with expertise as noted in their profiles, Unisys needed a way to highlight the company’s designated subject matter experts (SMEs) specific to its business portfolio and key areas of strength. Modeled after the SharePoint Search Best Bets feature, Unisys was able to tie together information from the designated employee’s HR record with My Site and search to identify key employees as SMEs and have them turn up in search results with a star next to their names. “Area of Strength” was added as a search refinement so that employees could filter the result to see company-designated SMEs by Area of Expertise. Now, employees have an easy way of identifying the authoritative experts for the company’s Areas of Strength portfolio solution.
HR Integration – Much of the information that employees were asked to enter in their My Site profiles was already available in the Unisys HR system. Unisys devised a way of importing all publicly available information into My Site profiles. This saved employees the work of having to enter publicly available information in their profile and also ensured that both systems always reflect the same accurate information. Employees can also select designated skills in their HR record to be reflected in their My Site profile.
New Socially Enabled Intranet - Unisys designed its new intranet home page to integrate social networking and showcase best-practice use of social media.
For example, Unisys created a new banner to enable easy access to all My Site features and functions. This same banner will be part of all new site templates and added to existing sites and community spaces once all are upgraded to SharePoint Server 2010. The banner will also ensure that all enterprise search features are available for every search. Unisys added customized search scopes, allowing employees to target searches for key authoritative knowledge sources.
The intranet home page also has featured blogs to showcase the company’s thought leaders. A link to U-Blog Central takes employees to a site that features additional bloggers and instructions on best-practice use of blogging.
A Did you Know section has daily tips to demonstrate the social media business value and assist in training. Adoption and Business Transformation
Unisys designs, builds, and manages mission-critical environments for businesses and governments around the world. It knows that technology alone cannot enable business change. With its own social networking tools in place, Unisys launched a major global initiative to demonstrate and promote professional networking to employees as a new way of working.
It relied on early adopters (those who were previously using external social networking tools) to get things rolling. Early adopters were already realizing the benefits and could plant the seeds of acceptance by using the new social media tools to communicate with their colleagues, but they needed greater worldwide adoption to create the viral effect and increase value.
The components of the plan included unprecedented senior leadership example, monthly adoption reports, sustained communication and training, and the embedding of knowledge and collaboration as a core value of the business into the corporate HR onboarding process, new hire orientation, and performance management systems.
Leading by Example
Executive committee members reporting to CEO Ed Coleman led the way by creating their profiles and then encouraging employees to add their photo, professional summary, and Ask Me About keywords to their My Sites. This would make every employee discoverable in SharePoint searches and in the mini-bios appearing in the newsfeed. A popular SharePoint search feature was “vanity search,” where employees could search for themselves to see how many times they turned up in a search and which key terms led to them. This alone encouraged employees to pay attention to and update their profiles regularly.
||Our inability to quickly locate expertise and identify high-value knowledge assets was limiting our agility in responding rapidly to changes in our business and our clients’ business.
Director, Operations, Chief Technology Office, Unisys
Monthly reports show executive committee members how many employees have taken the requested action to update their My Site profiles. Advisory council members were charged with reaching 100 percent compliance against targeted dimensions of the profile. Results were reviewed monthly and actioned at executive committee meetings.
When Unisys started its adoption campaign in April 2010, the company had approximately 5,000 active My Site users. One year later that number had grown to more than 15,000, representing more than 80 percent of the target population.
Executive committee members also began blogging. Today, they post their monthly status reports or highlights of a recent client or office visit to their blogs. It is senior management’s way of creating transparency for the business, engaging with employees, and getting immediate feedback. This behavior has led to other managers doing the same, giving senior management a more transparent way of seeing what is going on in key areas of the business rather than waiting for email status reports.
Managers also use the newsfeed to congratulate employees on key accomplishments, welcome new employees, and stay connected with the people on the front line of the business.
These behaviors have set the tone and modeled the desired behavior.
Sustained Awareness Campaign
Using their leaders, intranet home page, and a network of communications professionals throughout the company, Unisys launched a massive communications campaign. Monthly, a communications kit is produced for field use, which contains awareness posters, presentation materials, and reusable communication and training artifacts to be embedded in business unit and organizational websites and communications.
Unisys recently launched a “10 x 2 My Site Challenge,”which encouraged all employees to add 30 high-value colleagues to create a network effect and then to spend 10 minutes a day for two weeks reviewing newsfeed items to discover expertise, contacts, or information that might help them in doing their job. The aim was to get to the point where knowledge sharing and social collaboration were an integral part of the way people work.
On-Boarding New HiresReal-World Examples at Unisys
When new people join Unisys, they are introduced to knowledge and collaboration on their first day at the job when they complete their My Site profile. A 30-minute knowledge and collaboration on-boarding tutorial introduces social networking as the way to reduce learning curves, grow a personal network, and ramp up quickly on company knowledge.
Nothing sells technology and cultural change more than actual examples of return on investment. Unisys has several:
A sales team was having trouble finding colleagues with specific skills to satisfy a particular customer engagement. While on the phone with the customer, a Unisys employee did a People Search for the needed skills. He found a number of people with the exact experience needed and was able to pull them into the call to solve the problem.
||Cross-organization stakeholder involvement and a top-down leadership support model are essential drivers in achieving and sustaining a successful knowledge sharing and collaboration environment.
Director, Knowledge Strategy and Governance, Unisys
A senior portfolio solutions manager had his direct reports stop mailing their status reports to him as Microsoft Word documents, and instead asked them to post to their blog site so that the information was available to any portfolio-focused employee. By switching the delivery mechanism, this manager enabled greater transparency and transfer of information.
A new sales representative was looking for contacts or activity related to his new account assignment. A search on the client name not only produced documents and sites related to the account but also people working on it. Viewing their profiles, the new sales representative was made aware of sales campaigns in progress and key contacts.What’s Next
By mid-2011, Unisys intends to have all its SharePoint sites upgraded to SharePoint Server 2010. Later in 2011, Microsoft Office 2010 will become the standard desktop productivity solution, providing additional productivity improvements due to tighter integration with SharePoint Server 2010.
Unisys also expects social media to play a more dominant role in how employees get their jobs done.
Beyond social computing, Unisys is exploring ways of using SharePoint Insights and Composites to enhance and develop new business productivity solutions for the business.Benefits
Unisys expects its upgrade to SharePoint Server 2010 to accelerate its ability to effectively sell, deliver, and support client solutions. Having easier access to subject matter experts, sharing experiences and best practices, and growing an internal network of high-value colleagues will provide the agility needed to respond more effectively to changing client needs. It should also foster an environment of innovation and new ways of working. Having a rich professional networking environment also helps employees quickly learn and adapt to changes in the business as well as advance their professional development.
New Way for Employees to Engage
Social collaboration gives Unisys employees a new way to engage, learn, and disseminate information. Employees see the company embracing the ‘consumerization’ of IT by deploying a more collaborative platform similar to popular public social-networking sites.
“SharePoint Server 2010 has made enterprise social computing possible,” Burke says. “Enhancements to Search and My Site pages enable seamless expertise discovery and professional networking.”
Using newsfeeds, employees are more productive by being able to discover helpful information from newsfeed posts, colleagues’ status updates, blog entries, and items tagged with “I like it.”
Eventually, as the cultural adoption of social collaboration spreads and deepens at Unisys, management envisions a decrease in the use of email and increase in use of the newsfeed to quickly reach a wider audience and gain immediate feedback.
“New client and mobile access options will make it easier to access newsfeeds throughout the day, keep track of the latest developments in their area of expertise, and participate in interactive dialogues with colleagues,” says John Knab, Director, IT Applications at Unisys. “The goal is for employees to have every bit of information necessary to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective way possible.”Greater Operational Efficiency
The ultimate goal in all of this is operational efficiency: helping Unisys employees execute tasks as quickly and effectively as possible based on the best information and expertise available, whatever their job.
Enhanced Employee Development
For new employees, social collaboration and networking provides a way to quickly establish a presence and network within Unisys. It also allows them to discover the knowledge experts in areas related to their jobs, which helps them be productive right away. As colleagues post blogs and other intellectual capital, others can follow them, providing a great training vehicle on diverse subjects. Plus, interactive communities are effective forums for mentoring newer employees.
Social collaboration also helps employees manage their careers within Unisys. Using My Site, search, and newsfeeds, it is easy for employees to market themselves internally when looking for the next assignment.
Unisys has also been able to increase participation in communities by making it easier for members to stay connected. Throughout 2010, Unisys will continue to upgrade existing communities with social networking tools while creating new communities that match the company’s designated practice areas and industries, as well as organic communities that employees initiate around topics of interest.
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is the business collaboration platform for the enterprise and the Web.
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