In this section, we provide IBM Connections use cases in education, energy and utilities, healthcare, and computer services to help you better understand how IBM Connections can help your organizations to improve your websites and create the social digital experience for your users.
Use case 1: Education - Saxion University raises productivity with social business software
"An educator might sometimes think, ‘Why must I share what I have developed? It’s mine.’ But to thrive in today’s digital world, we must work in more flexible and collaborative ways." - Marion Vrielink, project manager for IBM Connections adoption, Saxion University of Applied Sciences
With some 24,000 students and 2,500 staff members, Saxion University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the Netherlands, an important center of expertise at the regional, national and international level. The university has four campuses in the East of the Netherlands, in the Dutch cities of Deventer, Enschede, Hengelo and Apeldoorn.
Saxion University of Applied Sciences needed to increase employee effectiveness through better communications, collaboration and streamlined ability to locate needed expertise.
The university implemented a program for rolling out IBM Connections, social software for business that help people engage with others in the context of critical business processes. Key features include activity streams, profiles, blogs, communities, discussion forums and wikis, all easily searchable for experts, documents and knowledge.
By training staff to use IBM Connections software tools for work tasks, Saxion University of Applied Sciences streamlined the meeting process, made it easier to identify and contact experts, and improved their employee productivity.
Becoming a “social business”
Saxion chose the IBM Connections solution. The integrated, secure social business platform helps people find and engage with others in the context of business processes to share information and work collaboratively. Key features include activity streams, profiles, blogs, communities, discussion forums and wikis, all easily searchable for experts, documents and knowledge. “We wanted to raise our level of communications and collaboration to a higher level, and that’s exactly what IBM Connections does,” says Rudy Orriens, Account Manager at Saxion.
Saxion initially made IBM Connections software available to all staff without instruction. There were notable successes: Although the iPhone and Android smartphones are popular with staffers, the IT team lacked expertise with these products. Special-interest communities created in the Connections solution covered these technologies, helping users support one another through community engagement.
Other early adopters experimented with social tools such as:
- Profiles, which let employees describe themselves by citing their skills, experience and areas of expertise.
- Activities, a task management system that helps groups of people collaborate easily on a task.
- Communities, which help enable ad hoc and planned collaboration around a project or area of interest. But after six months, usage was less than anticipated.
Traditionally, Saxion did not have a culture of open sharing. Some employees shied away from profiles as though they were akin to bragging about achievements. In addition, some were unsure how they could apply social tools to daily tasks.
In response to that, Saxion teamed with eOffice, an IBM Business Partner in the Netherlands, on a structured program to increase adoption across the university. The program, called WorX, relies on a scenario-based model to train managers on the Connections solution. Further, Saxion is training select functional groups, and in April 2013 it held a 60-workshop event called “Social Business Week” for all staff. Key departments behind the training are IT, human resources (HR) and corporate communications, all advocates for social business.
“In our adoption strategy, we developed many scenarios, or use cases, for Connections,” says Cora Woltring, program manager, WorX at Saxion. “How do we organize a meeting with Connections? How do we profile ourselves? How do we share knowledge and experience with teammates. How do we collaborate? For each scenario, we have a workshop, so users don’t have to learn the whole thing at once. Then managers attending the workshop can train colleagues.” The WorX training program has led some 200 new users to participate in the Connections environment each month.
The scenario for meetings shows the improvement that the Connections solution can bring. An effective meeting starts with the Activities function, which spreads the word to all meeting principals, along with the agenda, related documents, subtasks and action items. Stakeholders can absorb content, share discussions and form opinions before the meeting occurs. This transparency can accelerate decisions by eliminating tedious emails and long sit-downs.
Another scenario addresses employees’ reticence to fill out profiles, a must for locating others in the organization. To make it easier, Saxion created a wiki of helpful tips and enlisted a professional photographer and makeup artist for the photos. Thanks to WebSphere Portal software’s integration capabilities, all profiles will be published on Saxion’s intranet as a corporate directory. Wikis created from Connections software are also published to the intranet.
The university plans to roll out Connections software to its entire community within two to three years. Employees are first, followed by educators and students, all in the interest of improved efficiency, a higher level of transparency and a more engaged and richer educational experience.
For more information on the use case, see:
Saxion University raises productivity with social business software
Use case 2: Healthcare - Boston Children’s Hospital and IBM harness social education
"OPENPediatrics is an open forum to connect healthcare providers around the world. The idea is to leverage technology to promote worldwide sharing and exchange of knowledge to rescue children from crisis." - Traci Wolbrink, MD, MPH, Boston Children’s Hospital
Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children in 1869, Boston Children’s Hospital today is a 395-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent healthcare. It is grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Boston Children’s is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
The teaching hospital apprenticeship model, which once revolutionized medical education, is now failing to adapt to an increasingly interconnected world. As a result, expert knowledge is bottlenecked within the walls of institutions, creating disparities in access to medical education.
The collaboration resulted in OPENPediatrics, a cloud-based education application for desktops and notebooks that features advanced social networking. It is the first application for continuing medical education outside of an institution, a paradigm shift that could revolutionize post-graduate medical education.
The IBM solution helped augment medical knowledge for healthcare workers everywhere, share medical knowledge globally and equip caregivers with the knowledge and skills to care for critically ill children.
For more information, see:
Boston Children’s Hospital and IBM harness social education
Use case 3: Computer services - Highland Solutions builds on social selling experience
"To be of value for sales people, CRM needs to be more than a data entry system. We’ve created integrations that, when data is entered into our SugarCRM environment, trigger valuable internal information from IBM Connections to aid in selling efforts." - Scott Taback, vice president of business development, Highland Solutions
Headquartered in Chicago, Highland Group, Inc. (Highland Solutions) is a privately owned technology and business process consulting firm. It provides IT services and solutions for companies of all sizes, focusing on effective customer-facing systems such as CRM and e-commerce. In business for more than 12 years, Highland Solutions partners with technology leaders, including IBM, to serve customers located primarily in the United States.
Highland Solutions wanted to build a social selling platform to streamline collaboration for its sales teams and to use as a foundation for new service offerings.
The company integrated its IBM Connections software with its SugarCRM platform so that moving between applications was seamless.
With the integrated solution, sales representatives can quickly assemble the right people and access the most relevant information and best sales practices to help close deals faster.
For more information see:
Highland Solutions builds on social selling experience