Esquel: Social Technology Weaves an Enterprise Together

The Hong Kong-based Esquel Group is a vertically integrated supplier of cotton textiles and apparel. “Our supply chain extends from cotton farming and spinning to garment making and then on to labels and trims,” says Chief Financial Officer Wilkie Wong. Esquel has retail operations as well, but the core of its business is making cotton tops for companies such as Ralph Lauren, Nike, and Lacoste. “If you’re wearing a cotton shirt, there’s a good chance it came from Esquel,” Wong points out.

The company began using Yammer to connect its far-flung operations and varied businesses in 2011. “The network quickly grew from a sharing platform for a few dozen people in the IT department to a few hundred people across the enterprise,” Wong says. “As people posted questions, answers, and ideas, Yammer became an important internal communication tool. We use it for everything from morale boosting to problem solving.”

One reason for Esquel’s embrace of enterprise social networking is its desire to unite different geographies and lines of business. “It’s easy to invest in systems and processes, but it’s difficult to find ones that help you build a company culture,” says Edgar Tung, Managing Director of Human Resources and Group Organizational Development. “But Yammer does just that.”

Esquel’s enterprise social network mirrors and reinforces the company’s commitment to accessibility and transparency. “We want people who’ve joined us fresh out of college to have access to senior management,” Wong says. “A platform like Yammer is perfect for us, since a new employee can post something on Yammer and it shows up on our CEO’s screen.”

Since Esquel’s workforce communicates in an array of languages, Yammer’s translation capabilities come into play. “We operate in nine countries,” Wong points out. “It’s been immensely helpful to have a platform like Yammer connect us all together, no matter where we are or what language we speak.”

The connectivity Yammer brings to Esquel doesn’t just support a cohesive company culture, it makes the most of both institutional and individual knowledge–which gives the company a competitive edge. “A lot of great ideas come from the bottom up, and in an industry like garment manufacturing, most of the crucial activity takes place on the production floor, not in headquarters,” Tung says.

The company’s enterprise social network has been a prime mover in that drive for productivity. It not only enables efficiencies, it helps replicate them across the company. “One of the challenges we’ve had is that an innovation adopted in one site often isn’t rolled out in others,” Wong says. “Yammer helps us avoid wasting time and money reinventing the wheel.”

To read more about how companies like Esquel used Yammer, check out our customer page.