Building a business case for improving the digital employee experience (DEX)

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Build a business case for improving DEX

Comms, IT and HR all want to create a more equitable, productive digital employee experience—but often, they each have their own approach to getting there. Learn how Tech Data achieved this goal with cross-functional collaboration, and what roadblocks they had to overcome to get there.

Video Transcript

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right well, now we’ve got about 45 minutes and we got a lot of great information from Laura and Adam so we will dive in. We’ll start with some quick introductions. My name is Katelyn Turteltaub. I am one of the sales directors here, and I work with all of our partners in the Southeast portion of the United States. That is how I had the pleasure of working with Laura and Adam on their journey to becoming SocialChorus customers that we will be learning all about today. Laura, if you want to start by introducing yourself and then we’ll go over to Adam.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, thanks Katelyn. My name is Laura Stewart, as Katelyn said, and I’m the Director of Global Internal Communications and Digital Engagement at Tech Data. Adam.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks, Laura. Thanks Katelyn. Hi, Adam Quinn I am an IT enterprise consultant and I am our engagement lead for all the corporate functions, supporting our corporate communications as well as HR legal and finance teams.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Perfect. Thank you both. Similar to a lot of you who are tuned in whether you are a SocialChorus customer, on the journey of potentially becoming one, Laura and Adam are going to take us through what their journey looked like and how they got there. We’re going to start before we dive into the details with a little bit of context, Laura, if you want to give us some context on your Tech Data platform, at SocialChorus. I love the name of it. I think the name and the explanation behind it explains a lot about what you’re looking to do with organizations. We’re going to start there and then we’ll dive into how we got there.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely. Yeah, we’re excited about the name too, and our little dream team, our think tank that came up with that as soon as they said it, it resonated with me immediately. We’re calling it The Current. The reason for that is it will truly be our living dynamic source of news and updates and information and what we wanted it to convey too and I think it does is this fresh flow of information. We certainly don’t want to be stagnant with our news and communications and The Current gets at that. Also it has this cool double meaning. I mean, we’re in the tech space, so the cool double meaning is that it’s a power source.

That’s another way of looking at The Current, is that knowledge is power, and this is truly plugging our colleagues into that power source to keep our organization functioning. That’s really the reason why we chose it. I think so far the cool part is, is that everybody that we’ve talked to and put the name in front of it resonates immediately, and some of them have a different take on it, but it’s all relevant and meaningful. It’s really starting to catch on as something that I think will provide good energy to the platform. Again, another meaning, The Current.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

So many different meanings-

Laura Stewart:

I love them anyways.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

[inaudible 00:02:46] of the team, and I think it just goes to show exactly what you’re looking to do with the platform, how you’re looking to energize all of your employees as well globally. We’re really looking forward to sharing a bit more about that today. To kick it off, I know that this is a journey that Tech Data has been on for a while. I know Laura from a communications perspective, this is something years in the making that you’ve been looking to do is we need to bring on a new platform, modernize our technology, and really create a better digital employee experience for all of our Tech Data employees around the globe. As hard as you were pushing and everything, it wasn’t until Adam and IT really teamed up and partnered that we were able to fully take this across the finish line.

Let’s start with talking a little bit about how did you build the business case as far as communications and IT working together in partnership. We’ll start with you Laura, since you were on this journey a little bit longer, and then we’ll bring in Adam’s perspective on IT as well.

Laura Stewart:

Thank you, Katelyn, the partnership really between comms and IT was key. We, Adam and I have been on … Actually Adam has been on it just as long as I have, we’ve been on this journey for, it seems like forever, doesn’t it Adam?

Adam Quinn:

Yeah.

Laura Stewart:

But it was our partnership along the way was I would say really the glue that held it together, but we kept really strong partnerships throughout the organization too particularly in human resources with our VP of our HRIS team our human resources information systems. Then also in other corporate services and other geographies I mean, that was really, I think a game changer for us is that we continue to connect and as we reshaped the business case we kept our relationship strong and continued to socialize it.

I would say that that was the second thing that tipped the scales in our favor is that we really never gave up. I think we talked a little while ago about the fact that there was no straight line to getting this done and I mean, in any organization, but certainly ours things change, priorities change. We were constantly evolving. We needed to be willing to pivot and get creative, but we were together all along the way. Not only problem solving, but also listening to our colleagues and really seeking to understand. There were a couple of different ways that we did that. We had a organizational health index survey that went out to all colleagues and engagement survey the year after that, or year or two after that. We were collecting data along the way.

We did a communications audit to try to do some round tables and really understand how our colleagues were consuming communications. Then with those inputs, we then went back and partnered with Adam and the IT team and our other colleagues to say, okay, this is what we’re hearing, and in order to really shape our why and serve our colleagues, we needed to use that data to shape our story. Then lastly, I’ll say the other thing that really tipped the scales is that communications was elevated to have a seat at the CEO staff table. That was a big game changer too, because it was this perfect alignment of we were getting some really good inputs and data from the organization. We were really starting to understand our, why we had these partnerships that were already kind of … We had this foundation and we were willing to continue to reshape our business case and all of that was coming together and then two things happened.

The first one was communications was elevated to the CEO staff table. We then had a stronger voice and our CEO made it very clear that communications was really a priority. That was really huge because then we could start to say, okay, well, we know that there’s a better way to be engaging with our colleagues and so we need to start shaping that. Then the second thing was our organization was undergoing or starting to undergo a massive transformation. We knew we needed to not only have a tool that would help us through that transformation, but also this is a way of transforming ourselves to and transforming the way that we’re communicating. All those things came together at once and it didn’t all happen right away. Again, this was a several year journey and just never giving up and staying together along the way, but it finally came to fruition after several years of hanging in there.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, it definitely did, Laura. I feel that throughout that whole journey, we kept a regular cadence between us to just stay on track and as things deviated and came back, this is the third year that we tried to get this across the finish line to actually become a project. We finally were able to make that happen. But during the journey, again, we never gave up and we had to be creative and just reassess. But at first I feel we didn’t succeed because we were trying to bite off more than we could chew. You can’t boil the ocean. We tried to just minimize and figure out where are we going to have the biggest impact. From a business case criteria perspective, I think that it was a great cross-functional collaboration between us and HR to determine what is the key criteria that’s important for Tech Data.

We had actually broken it down. We actually put it out through RFP. There were four different parties that we were looking at and across some looking at criteria for usability, personalization, search, content management, strategy, those were I think our four biggest ones, but then other key criteria was translations we’re multi national corporation in over 40 countries. How did that come into play? Campaign management in some of these other areas, and then other areas where we were looking at, well, what are the administrative functions? Of course cost came down to it. But when we looked at it from a side-by-side comparison, that’s how we essentially came down to figuring out who was going to be the best fit for us.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

You mentioned a number of different criteria, and I know that you are looking to solve a very complex challenge. The organization was going through so many changes, as Laura mentioned, it’s all about how do we transform as an organization and stay up with the times. You mentioned a number of different criteria, Adam, but when you were thinking about how the business case and the criteria ended up selecting SocialChorus, as the platform to solve those business needs, what was it that really resonated or stood out to help you say, okay, this is the platform that solves exactly what we’re looking to do as an organization?

Adam Quinn:

I think ultimately it came down to user experience and we were looking for something across roles. Whether you’re an end user or a content contributor or an administrator having an ease of experience that is going to be able to have multiple people engaged to run this platform. The other is, I think we had gone through a project a few years back to build our own US-based intranet, and that was built on SharePoint and as many intranet to do over time, it gets a bit stale and stagnant and some areas are up to date some are not. We never had anything on a global scale for that, but we tried that approach. A lot of the other companies that are out there have a very similar approach where they take SharePoint, but it’s almost on steroids a little bit.

It’s still very, essentially the same from a management perspective on the backend, and that didn’t seem to work for us culturally. I think especially the communications team and Laura, you can chime in after this, of course, but the user experience, the consumer grade quality that you get as users of LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram or all these other ones, it was very apparent here. It stepped away from that old school intranet way of thinking. That also helped us shift our scope and our roadmap.

Laura Stewart:

That’s exactly right. Just how Adam put it, that was our, why. We had this aha moment, like, wait a second, we’ve been thinking about this as more of a, what do we call it, Adam, I think communications or company centric approach. Then we started going to a colleague centric approach. We were thinking really, how are we meeting our colleagues’ needs? That really resonated with leadership too, because they were starting to shift to more of a servant leadership mentality where it’s putting the right tools in our colleague’s hands to make them the most successful. This went hand in glove with that. We started thinking, all right, if we’re really going to transform the way that we’re communicating, we can’t just go with that, what we’ve done before.

We needed to reshape our thinking and pivot a little bit. Like Adam said, really get creative with it. We’ve been using this analogy that helped firm this up too, in our own minds of the way that we had been doing it before, it was almost like we were … The intranet experience was like a stock room. There’s a lot of really great stuff in there. I mean, there’s lots of information, there’s good stuff. It’s not always necessarily the freshest, but it’s there and we need to leverage it and we can’t get rid of that. But what we’re building here is the front of the store retail experience where we’re pulling out the freshest stock, we’re putting the stuff that our colleagues are interested or need to see right up front.

We’re creating new signage, we’re organizing it so that they can customize their experience and walk down the aisle that they’d like to walk down, to easily find what they need. It’s new signage, it’s a new way of organizing things, but that intranet, all of the stuff that’s back there is still there. It’s just that we’re optimizing the experience. We started looking at that, like Adam said, the user experience, kind of the retail walk in the front door, how can we make this super consumable and keep it fresh?

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I love one of the things that I remember us talking about is you had mentioned, this start is more of a functional, we need to revamp the intranet. But then after diving into it, you said, why do we need to revamp the intranet? It’s not just about doing something from a functional perspective, but we need to actually serve our colleagues with what they need. How did all of that shift in thinking change your entire process? I know you mentioned it completely changed the lens of what you needed out of a platform, but it’s not just a functional thing. It’s actual serving the needs of individuals in solving actual business case function. How did that shift your process as well?

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, I don’t know, Adam, if you had any thoughts on this, but I’ll start just from the standpoint of we’re starting with a communications platform. I think that when we made that decision, that that was where we were going to start. I think our objectives became a lot clearer because we’re doing two things we’re creating that user experience, but we’re also making things a lot more efficient on the backend for our communications teams. That changes our entire process. That’s, I guess one way of answering the question, the other, in terms of our process for getting this through and approved and done and out of the gate, I think it actually really shortened our timeline when we decided that this was the approach we were going to take, because looking at the entire digital workplace environment and the entire solution is daunting.

I mean there’s a lot to consider. There’s a lot of tools that are a part of the experience. We decided, you know what, we need to start somewhere. We need to start with what we’ve determined to be most important for our colleagues, which is getting the right information to the right people at the right time. In the midst of all this change this is so critical to get it right. Let’s start here. Then there’s more to look at again, the stock room and the other tools and things that integrate. But I think that approach really started to crystallize for us.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, no, definitely Laura. I feel on that front too, it was interesting when we were putting together our criteria I remember that we went through an exercise too, where we mapped our organizational, what’s the word I’m looking for? Our …

Laura Stewart:

Our organizational health index survey,

Adam Quinn:

Not the health index survey, no accountability, inclusion, collaboration-

Laura Stewart:

Our shared values.

Adam Quinn:

Our shared values. Thank you. We mapped those to the criteria that we had. Every piece of criteria that we had was mapped to one of those values. I think that that helped shift it as leadership changed. Then it also helped shape the scope. We know that there’s still the stockroom is there, it’s messy in parts. It needs to be cleaned up at some point in time, that’s going to be part of our overall roadmap for digital workplace strategy at Tech Data. This is going to be our front door and the other tools that we have in place are hopefully going to continue to be enhanced by this and work in tandem as we evolve to our future workplace for our employees.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, that’s great. I know that it took us awhile to get through, but we were successful on this journey. Thinking about everyone who’s joining us here today, what are some of the things that as they’re going through this journey, while it seems like it’s all rainbows all the time. There are going to be some challenges and hurdles that you have to get across to get something like this across the finish line. What are some of the things that you identified in your process that you can call out in advance, so others can think about as you’re going through this process, what should you be aware of and what can you get ahead of to help you get something like this across the finish line?

Laura Stewart:

One of the first things that comes to mind for me is that way back when we went through a pilot that Adam spoke about in the US, and it was really just moving from SharePoint on prem to SharePoint online, and it was our intranet. We had our email over here and we had our intranet and those were the two things that we were dealing with. But I think we were thinking about the solution first, the technology first versus thinking about the problem we were trying to solve for. Again, putting the user experience in front.

Now, I think Adam early on, you were saying, hold on, we got to think about the user experience, but either way, whether or not that’s really the approach that we took I do remember you saying that. But I think as a whole, the team that was responsible for that, I think we were really quick again, to be thinking about the solution before the problem we were trying to solve. I think it’s just an easy trap to fall into. I think that it’s important to just take a step back and think, okay, what are we trying to solve for? Who are we serving? Then look at exploring all of the solutions that can solve for that rather than the other way around.

Adam Quinn:

Putting the employee at the center was the game changer for us when we shifted that. That helped explain things even better because everybody at the company, whether you’re talking to our senior leaders, trying to convince them that this is a valid project or end users, consumers of the information who are getting bombarded with hundreds of emails every day. They all know what that experience is. I think for a lot of organizations, particularly large organizations that move very quickly, it’s hard to get an inward facing project that is going to help the internal teams be more efficient and more productive together because everything’s all focused on generating money and making outward facing things so often anyways that I found. That was a hard hurdle to overcome.

I think that that was part of it is that over time, as we tried to do it, one, our scope was different, but there was too many other important things going on in the external, no, this isn’t the right time for that. We had three chances, and the third chance we finally got it right. I think the cross-functional collaboration where we determined communications was the driver. Your needs were first, but then there were also other needs to consider HR, for example, and the need for translation capabilities here within our communications. That was one of the big drivers for their aspect. Then IT, from a supportability perspective, a deployment perspective and then also working with other parts of the organization.

Our legal and our procurement teams, our IT security teams, we have certain data processing agreements that we need to make sure that we can follow. If certain companies can’t meet that, we’re not able to work with them. Vetting that out upfront was also very helpful and just making sure that, hey, is there any red flags that we need to be aware of in advance or are we all good? Then that’s ultimately what helped us to drive to start building upon a modern workplace ecosystem.

Laura Stewart:

I think when you’re thinking about what’s important to your leadership, typically things like cross geography or cross organizational collaboration is important to most leaders I think. At Tech data, it’s one of our shared values. Clearly as Adam said, we were looking at our shared values because that is the center foundation of our organization. We knew that if we were linking our solution back to our shared values and our business objectives, that that was going to give us that voice that we needed to get this pushed through. That was a big one, that collaboration piece was huge. It’s important to do that.

Then the other thing is and I wouldn’t call it a hurdle, but it could have been if we didn’t have the data to back up what we were asking for. We had pulled some of the results from those surveys that I talked about, but also the communications audit that we did, where we were really listening and shaping our solution around what we were hearing from our colleagues, since we had determined that we were taking that approach of being very colleague centric. All that really resonated with our leadership.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One thing I think can be easier said than done. When you mentioned that Laura is, it’s not just, cross-functional when you’re thinking about the business case, but it’s to your point cross geography. When you’re thinking about every colleague and what they need, how did you work to ensure it wasn’t just about your employees and your Florida headquarters or just the US but it’s truly about the entirety of Tech Data across the globe. I know in your implementation, you’re really thinking heavily about focusing on Benelux and how do we get them onboard. Talk a little bit about that cross geography approach and how you were able to tie that in.

Laura Stewart:

I think Adam could speak to the IT piece, but from a communications perspective we have a really great cross geographic team of kind of a communications network of global communications leads from each of our three regions. That really helps because I think we have a lot of trust in cross-collaboration, we have a global communications and brand council that meets on a monthly basis. We are on again, regular discussions with them. When this project started to build momentum, especially in the beginning too, we would keep in touch with things like the communications audit or progress that we were making along the way, and trying to reshape this business case. But once we started to really gain momentum, that’s when we really did the more concentrated outreach to say, okay, here’s where we are with the project. We would love as many of you as possible to be involved in it.

There was a ton of enthusiasm, obviously because it’s a great platform and it’s going to make our lives as communicators a lot easier too. A lot of enthusiasm and immediate willingness to collaborate together. That’s really been the easiest part of this process, I think, is to get that collaboration across the geographies. That’s been the case with human resources too. We’ve got a great team that has been involved across the three geographies and their feedback and partnership has been really key, but I think Adam could probably speak to the ITPs in terms of across the geos.

Adam Quinn:

I mean, overall on this project, we’ve had a pretty small IT team involved. I’ve helped to get engagement from our respective architecture security teams. But I mean, on the whole, it’s been a pretty small group of us but we are a pretty big functional group, but I mean, SocialChorus is doing a lot of the help from an integration perspective and it’s not a very heavy lift for IT. That’s another reason why, because we have, I think over a hundred IT projects in flight this year and our resources are very strapped. Finding something that was easy to implement was also critical. I feel from a growth perspective we wanted to meet the end user where they are and have really a personalized approach. Audience targeting is key. When we first started talking about it, we needed to solve for this on the global scale. We needed something that could touch all of our employees around the world more than just sending an email message or a newsletter.

Then from there we see it almost as a tiered approach where you’ve got your regional needs, you’ve got your country level needs. Then you’ve also got your departmental and team needs. As we looked at it, our main goal was at first global, but now we’re looking down and using our Benelux, which is the Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg area of our business as a pilot from a country level where they’re gonna have their own country level channel and push things out there. Then the end users from Benelux will see that content along with the global content and then also a select area of different channels that we are going to be featuring. There’s going to be what an IT channel at diversity, equity and inclusion channel, a furry pets channel but different things. Then the end user is genuinely getting the communications they need is derived from Corp com the communications that are reasonably applicable to them, and then the communications that they want for the areas of interest that they share.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I think you both did a great job thinking about that cross geography. It’s not just what we need to push out, but there is a ton of important business, critical information across the world. We need to make sure we’re enabling anyone who has that information to be able to deliver it to their specific group of colleagues. I think that was a key thing. One of the things that you mentioned, Adam was around, there’s emails, there’s newsletters, there’s a lot of other tools in the ecosystem, and this is something that oftentimes can come up as a challenge or something in the processes. Where did you envision SocialChorus fitting within your tech stack? As far as I know you have a number of other tools, some of which you are planning to phase out with SocialChorus, but how does this fit in and how do you define to leadership what the ecosystem looks like with SocialChorus?

Laura Stewart:

From a communications perspective, I’ll jump in and then Adam, maybe you can look at the broader scope of all of our tools, but we really wanted to simplify the way that we’re reaching our colleagues. There’s, you mentioned different newsletters and really when we look across the geographies, there’s much more than just the two global newsletters that we send as a global team. Our primary channel for communications has been email. We’ve been driving all of our updates and information through email, but then we’ve got this other place to go. That’s just been not widely used, but the intranet, which was not optimized globally. Then by the way, trickling in are things like Microsoft teams and Skype, all sorts of different things where people can get their information.

What we really wanted to do is create that digital front door where our colleagues have one place to go, one source not necessarily one place to go. Because I know that they can consume this information either on their mobile phone or desktop, and we can certainly meet them where they are, but we wanted to streamline the source. Again, The Current of fresh flow of information. Yes, in doing so from a communications perspective, we do plan to phase out some of our other tools that we use for newsletters and go from that more biweekly, heavy build approach where we’re putting a ton of information in a newsletter that colleagues have to wait for.

We want it to be a lot more dynamic, real time or posting it as it happens. Then that newsletter concept is really more of a hey in case you missed it, that leads them right back to The Current. In fact, our previous newsletter was called The Wire. It kind of works with The Current because the wire you can connect to the current anyway. Still playing with that more to come, but it’s really all about simplifying and not only for again, the end user, but also for our communications colleagues that previously were posting two, three, four different places in order to get this information to our colleagues. Now they can do it in one place and then meet our colleagues where they are through the platform.

Adam Quinn:

Well, I think it’s important to point out I don’t think that we’ve said it on the call, but we are mid implementation right now. I saw a couple of questions coming through the chat, but we are not yet live. We are going live next month. We are going live with a small pilot in another week or so. This is going to be evolving to that point, how the users adopt it, how we intersect it with our intranets and other environments. Workday is another component because that’s our HRIS and we have other areas that, that links out to. It really is going to be our first place to cohesively put together not only the communications, but access points to these other tools at a global scale that our global community uses.

As well as then narrowing down the same way I think in the future, as it evolves, we’ll go a little bit more reasonable, a little bit more local. That myself being an American employee, maybe see links to my benefits that aren’t applicable to my colleagues over in Germany and they see what’s relevant to them. I think that it’s going to continue to evolve. I feel like over the course of time, it’s going to shift how we use the other tools and probably make a couple of them redundant.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

When you mentioned Laura, it’s that front door, but it’s also reaching them where it’s convenient for them. I did see a message in the chat coming around when you’re thinking about those end points or how you’re going to reach employees where it’s easiest for them. How are you going to reach say your non-connected employees? That’s in the question we got in the chat, but what are the different ways that you’re thinking of the end points that different groups of employees will need to be able to be reached on?

Laura Stewart:

We do have a challenge there with our logistics center colleagues, many of whom don’t have a mobile phone on them even, or a desktop to work from. We’ve talked about a few different things. One of them is to create a channel for leadership in those logistics centers so that they can be plugged in, but also collaborate and use that as a way to then share information almost like their own newsletter in a way, but it’s more real time. Again, we’re not doing another newsletter or sending it to their email inbox. They can plug in, get the information they need and then share it.

Another thing that we will explore is digital signage because our colleagues in our logistics centers do rely on digital signage for their source of information. There’s different ways that we’ll try and get creative, but those are two things that come to mind upfront. Again, as Adam said, we haven’t really launched yet, and this is definitely going to be a journey, but I definitely feel that there’s a ton of opportunity and a lot of low-hanging fruit, quite frankly, of things that will make our communications a lot more effective across the globe.

Adam Quinn:

I think the mobility factor is another key area like you mentioned, Laura, especially with the logistics. I know that when they’re on the job, a lot of times they have to check in their phones. They can’t bring them back there with them, but after that, there’s the opportunity to access it through the app and have those communications common. They don’t really use that today. I say that corporate wide, we’re pretty green as far as using mobile devices. Like we’re pretty desktop oriented folks. Again, I see this as an opportunity to help shift the culture a bit in more of a modern, consumer grade experience for these communications.

Laura Stewart:

I think mostly because what we’ve used to date hasn’t necessarily been optimized for the mobile experience. But yes, we are hoping ideally as we look ahead, I think a great success would be to see a lot of adoption with the mobile app, because that way it’s right in colleague’s hands and not everyone’s again. But I think it’ll start to reshape the way that we’re connecting.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I know as we’re on this journey, you both have very lofty and ambitious goals for how, The Current is going to transform the organization, not just from a communications perspective, but the overall employee experience. What does that vision for success look like if you were to say this was our business case, and this is it being solved, what does that vision for success truly look like with The Current?

Laura Stewart:

So many things. I think first and foremost, shaping a solution that is really colleague centric and seeing a high level of engagement is going to be really gratifying. Right now we do have some metrics to know how we’re reaching our colleagues. It varies depending on the publication between mid fifties and 65%, which is actually not bad. It’s close to benchmark, but when you hit a 65% open rate, you know that you’re still missing 35% of your organization. I think even if we saw an up take of engagement by 5% in the first six months, that’s a lot of colleagues that we’re reaching. I think that would feel like a lot of progress toward really moving the needle and driving our engagement. But also I think, Adam, just on the softer side of that I think Adam touched on this a little bit, but that cultural change of driving an environment where there’s a lot more two way dialogue going on, where we’re able to get a more human and real conversation going.

It’s not so much of this manufactured communications that come from corporate and they’re pushed at you, but it’s more of a real time consumption of information, but also a dialogue. So our colleagues can really feel like they’ve got a voice and can get involved, and that’s what SocialChorus I think offers us. I think we’ll see, hopefully, in the near not so distant future that we get that dialogue going and that we can start to change the conversation a little bit. So it’s not so much top down as it is bottom up or even side to side that we’re changing that culture. That will be a big, I think, success if we can reach that within the first six months.

Adam Quinn:

I completely agree, Laura, I was going to comment also on that, the two way dialogue it’s been so long that it’s just been one way communications, and we do have pockets of two way, but not at the corporate or at the global level. There isn’t really that level of engagement. That’s going to be a new shift for the organization, both from an end-user perspective, but also for the communications teams that we pointed out that, hey, you know what people are going to be giving you ideas. People are going to be pushing the envelope and challenging us. When that finally comes into a dynamic interplay of side to side, you see almost in a circle going back and forth, that’s when I think that it’s really going to be successful and that it’s going to be the driver for a lot of the things that we decide as an organization to do.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One of the things that I think is interesting too, about your approach is you’ve been talking about colleagues centric. It’s not just top down, but even shifting how top-down communications work. Previous leadership communications were one way and we’re looking to make it more authentic and connect your colleagues to the leaders of the organization. How are you going to be doing that shift as well?

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, I think that’s one of the more exciting parts of the platform is that we have some leaders that are really great at engaging with colleagues. Right now there’s different ways that we’re doing that live stream events, for example, or smaller round tables, but this is such a fantastic channel for them to use it as a way to share their own authentic voice and connect and comment. We do have a colleague recognition tool that we use, but I think connecting the two so that we can bring out the best in our colleague recognition as well, and give our leaders an opportunity to, again, just be very authentic and human and real. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to do that. We’re tossing ideas around, we haven’t necessarily landed on exactly how we’re going to move forward with that.

But I think a channel for our CEO or even our CEO staff is something that we’ve talked about so that they can share success stories. Again, I talked about the fact that we’re in the midst of transformation. We have a lot of awesome stories to share throughout our organization about how we’re transforming and we’ve been sharing those stories, but to have a leader talk about that from their own voice and share that and get into a two-way dialogue about that and provide some recognition to those colleagues from their own. Again, themselves is really powerful. We’re hoping to leverage that and do it in a more real-time format, through the platform.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

We did have a question that came into, and I think this is a future vision of success. Adam, I’m going to have you speak to this when you’re thinking about the experience of going just from the quote, unquote revamped, storefront to a user coming in and having that experience to do things like complete transactions, or make sure that they’re able to complete what they need from a work perspective. How do you envision this environment really all tying together?

Adam Quinn:

It’s a good question. I feel to be successful, we need to point the employees to where they need to have access points to. I feel we’re just starting this journey and there’s certain ways that you can go. Integration has been one component. When we were looking at solutions, how deep do you go with that? Right now we’re going to be using for example, the Benelux channel, we’re planning on having their newsfeed present on the homepage of their intranet site, which is much better use than the US one I should say, and as part of their culture.

We don’t want to break that. We want to keep that consistency going, but also still enable them from SocialChorus to be able to jump out to those points elsewhere, that they need to be able to do their jobs. I think again, it’s going to be evolved and it’s also going to evolve with, I think as our users start getting used to it and providing feedback for how things can get better. It’s not going to be exactly perfect from day one. We would probably never will be, but we will iteratively try to make the improvement better and better until finally you do get that cohesiveness of tools working together and really [inaudible 00:40:01] energizing the employee experience.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I think you both made two points. It’s about the user experience and having them have that integrated approach, but also Laura for your team, how do we serve everyone where they need? How are you able as a communicator to be able to publish to all these different channels, to ensure that they’re getting the local news, but what does that governance look like on your end when you’re thinking about that as well?

Laura Stewart:

We’re working through that right now, as we’re building out our governance structure, but what’s really nice about SocialChorus is that we can decentralize our communications more than we’ve been able to do before. We will have some channels that are not open necessarily to a user generated content, like completely open that we’ll be screening for user generated content. We’re working out which channels are being led by which communications lead and who’s going to be managing that content. But we will also have some channels and probably smaller channels and some of the more creative ones like the furry friends, and we have a hashtag Tech Data life where that’ll be open for colleagues to contribute a wellbeing channel, wellbeing matters where our colleagues can talk about things related to wellbeing.

Those kinds of channels where they will not be governed as heavily because we want to drive that colleague engagement. But on the backend, there will be many channels that are managed by different communications leads. I think the platform will allow us to all leverage it in a much more efficient way, and cross-pollinate some of these communications, but be able to post them in one place and share them simultaneously rather than have to go through again, the arduous process of not only posting in many different places, but then also having … The way we operate today is a bit more manual and the way we even coordinate and make sure that we’re not on top of each other with communications and de-conflict.

I mean, sometimes we’re doing that over email still where we’re de-conflicting, let’s make sure we’re not and using an Excel calendar to make sure that we’re not overlapping communications and overwhelming our colleagues. The more sophisticated content management with SocialChorus is going to be really powerful for us. It will really help us, I think, streamline our governance.

Adam Quinn:

I think just to add to that Laura, the analytics behind it is going to be key as well, because today we have some. But really being able to drive down into what level of engagement, how much engagement around what types, videos from the president of the Americas, right now it goes out through email, you can’t connect. I think that that’s going to be a driver too, for how this evolves over time.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely and looking across campaigns too. That’s another thing that we’ve been challenged by up until now is that when we are talking about a transformation story, a success story, and we’re posting it to the Hub and then we’re posting it in a newsletter, and then we’re talking about it in an email and then maybe we post it to Yammer. At least from an internal standpoint, we right now are not looking across the board at how that story resonated and how are we reaching our colleagues. That’s going to be really powerful to be able to create, I think if I’ve got my nomenclature right, we’ll be calling that a campaign, but either or an initiative there’ll be tagging it so that we can look at the analytics and see how we’re doing with certain topics and campaigns. That I think will then drive our strategy and we’ll be able to really be thoughtful about how we are leveraging the platform and how we’re reaching our colleagues.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, and it’s an ever evolving strategy, right? You’re getting the analytics and consistently shifting how you’re doing things based on what initiatives are being engaged with. How do employees like to engage to that content, et cetera. I think you guys are taking a great approach to how we’re going to constantly evolve with the analytics and metrics that you have.

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:44:14].

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Go ahead Laura.

Laura Stewart:

I was just going to say, we’re thinking through too the channels that we’ll be promoting or that we’ll have open immediately, and then those that colleagues will opt into or subscribe to, because I think there’s a little bit of strategy behind that too. Putting it all out there versus saying, hey, when you take an active role in subscribing, then you’re going to be actively engaged in that content. Thinking through that strategy as well.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I know that strategy is key, and we had a question around the implementation process. I know we have a few minutes left, but Laura, Adam, if you want to speak to the strategic process of that implementation. I know you’ve been partnering with our strategic advisory team, but how has the strategy really shifted what you’re doing with the platform as well?

Laura Stewart:

We are in the process of building and completing our strategy and also our plans to announce this to the organization. That’s still taking shape, but the team has been really fantastic and no one asked me to make that plug by the way for SocialChorus, but all along the way, they’ve really guided us in making sure that we are leveraging the platform to meet our objectives. Again, it’s still taking shape, but I feel confident that this platform will truly allow us to transform our communications in the way that we’re reaching our colleagues and in a much more efficient way. More to come on that, but it’s been really successful so far and hopefully we’ll be able to check back in, in a month or so, and let everyone know that it was a great launch. As Adam said, it’s still a journey that we’re going to be on for the foreseeable future, but feel really good about where we are right now.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

For everyone on this journey, apologies, Adam I just want to say with the couple minutes we have left, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to them to get them through this journey, just like you did and Adam we’ll start with you there?

Adam Quinn:

Be creative, try to be creative with your approach and adapt because the message isn’t going to resonate with everyone the same way. I feel that was part of our challenge too, is getting everyone on the same page. The leads of communications had a different vision than our leaders in IT than our leaders in marketing, depending on who we were engaging at different points in time. It took us a while to shift the story until it finally caught on. Again, stick with it, but during the process, be creative and adaptive as you go on the path.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Great advice.

Laura Stewart:

I think mine would be to not underestimate the power of relationships that you’ve built across the organization. Again, across departments, functions, geographies, those partnerships were a game changer for us and they can really make or break a project. Not only the inputs that you get and the perspectives that you get across those functions and geographies, but oftentimes you’ll be a louder voice when you show that you’ve taken all those different perspectives into account and you go forward with the plan together as a cross functional and cross geographic unit.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes and you accomplish that very well Adam and Laura working together, and I had the wonderful pleasure of working with you both through this. I think you did an amazing job of IT and comms working in tandem. I think you are the exact example of how everyone should function through this. I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that you do with the platform, how you continue on this journey and ultimately make sure that we’re able to cross off all those boxes that we had originally had on that business case. Thank you both for your partnership and for sharing it with everyone today. We really appreciate all of the insights that you have for everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks Katelyn, it’s been a pleasure.

Laura Stewart:

It has. Thank you, Katelyn.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right. Enjoy the rest of it too and everyone.

Laura Stewart:

Thanks everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Bye.

Laura Stewart:

Bye.

 

Expand Transcript

Video Transcript

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right well, now we’ve got about 45 minutes and we got a lot of great information from Laura and Adam so we will dive in. We’ll start with some quick introductions. My name is Katelyn Turteltaub. I am one of the sales directors here, and I work with all of our partners in the Southeast portion of the United States. That is how I had the pleasure of working with Laura and Adam on their journey to becoming SocialChorus customers that we will be learning all about today. Laura, if you want to start by introducing yourself and then we’ll go over to Adam.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, thanks Katelyn. My name is Laura Stewart, as Katelyn said, and I’m the Director of Global Internal Communications and Digital Engagement at Tech Data. Adam.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks, Laura. Thanks Katelyn. Hi, Adam Quinn I am an IT enterprise consultant and I am our engagement lead for all the corporate functions, supporting our corporate communications as well as HR legal and finance teams.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Perfect. Thank you both. Similar to a lot of you who are tuned in whether you are a SocialChorus customer, on the journey of potentially becoming one, Laura and Adam are going to take us through what their journey looked like and how they got there. We’re going to start before we dive into the details with a little bit of context, Laura, if you want to give us some context on your Tech Data platform, at SocialChorus. I love the name of it. I think the name and the explanation behind it explains a lot about what you’re looking to do with organizations. We’re going to start there and then we’ll dive into how we got there.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely. Yeah, we’re excited about the name too, and our little dream team, our think tank that came up with that as soon as they said it, it resonated with me immediately. We’re calling it The Current. The reason for that is it will truly be our living dynamic source of news and updates and information and what we wanted it to convey too and I think it does is this fresh flow of information. We certainly don’t want to be stagnant with our news and communications and The Current gets at that. Also it has this cool double meaning. I mean, we’re in the tech space, so the cool double meaning is that it’s a power source.

That’s another way of looking at The Current, is that knowledge is power, and this is truly plugging our colleagues into that power source to keep our organization functioning. That’s really the reason why we chose it. I think so far the cool part is, is that everybody that we’ve talked to and put the name in front of it resonates immediately, and some of them have a different take on it, but it’s all relevant and meaningful. It’s really starting to catch on as something that I think will provide good energy to the platform. Again, another meaning, The Current.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

So many different meanings-

Laura Stewart:

I love them anyways.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

[inaudible 00:02:46] of the team, and I think it just goes to show exactly what you’re looking to do with the platform, how you’re looking to energize all of your employees as well globally. We’re really looking forward to sharing a bit more about that today. To kick it off, I know that this is a journey that Tech Data has been on for a while. I know Laura from a communications perspective, this is something years in the making that you’ve been looking to do is we need to bring on a new platform, modernize our technology, and really create a better digital employee experience for all of our Tech Data employees around the globe. As hard as you were pushing and everything, it wasn’t until Adam and IT really teamed up and partnered that we were able to fully take this across the finish line.

Let’s start with talking a little bit about how did you build the business case as far as communications and IT working together in partnership. We’ll start with you Laura, since you were on this journey a little bit longer, and then we’ll bring in Adam’s perspective on IT as well.

Laura Stewart:

Thank you, Katelyn, the partnership really between comms and IT was key. We, Adam and I have been on … Actually Adam has been on it just as long as I have, we’ve been on this journey for, it seems like forever, doesn’t it Adam?

Adam Quinn:

Yeah.

Laura Stewart:

But it was our partnership along the way was I would say really the glue that held it together, but we kept really strong partnerships throughout the organization too particularly in human resources with our VP of our HRIS team our human resources information systems. Then also in other corporate services and other geographies I mean, that was really, I think a game changer for us is that we continue to connect and as we reshaped the business case we kept our relationship strong and continued to socialize it.

I would say that that was the second thing that tipped the scales in our favor is that we really never gave up. I think we talked a little while ago about the fact that there was no straight line to getting this done and I mean, in any organization, but certainly ours things change, priorities change. We were constantly evolving. We needed to be willing to pivot and get creative, but we were together all along the way. Not only problem solving, but also listening to our colleagues and really seeking to understand. There were a couple of different ways that we did that. We had a organizational health index survey that went out to all colleagues and engagement survey the year after that, or year or two after that. We were collecting data along the way.

We did a communications audit to try to do some round tables and really understand how our colleagues were consuming communications. Then with those inputs, we then went back and partnered with Adam and the IT team and our other colleagues to say, okay, this is what we’re hearing, and in order to really shape our why and serve our colleagues, we needed to use that data to shape our story. Then lastly, I’ll say the other thing that really tipped the scales is that communications was elevated to have a seat at the CEO staff table. That was a big game changer too, because it was this perfect alignment of we were getting some really good inputs and data from the organization. We were really starting to understand our, why we had these partnerships that were already kind of … We had this foundation and we were willing to continue to reshape our business case and all of that was coming together and then two things happened.

The first one was communications was elevated to the CEO staff table. We then had a stronger voice and our CEO made it very clear that communications was really a priority. That was really huge because then we could start to say, okay, well, we know that there’s a better way to be engaging with our colleagues and so we need to start shaping that. Then the second thing was our organization was undergoing or starting to undergo a massive transformation. We knew we needed to not only have a tool that would help us through that transformation, but also this is a way of transforming ourselves to and transforming the way that we’re communicating. All those things came together at once and it didn’t all happen right away. Again, this was a several year journey and just never giving up and staying together along the way, but it finally came to fruition after several years of hanging in there.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, it definitely did, Laura. I feel that throughout that whole journey, we kept a regular cadence between us to just stay on track and as things deviated and came back, this is the third year that we tried to get this across the finish line to actually become a project. We finally were able to make that happen. But during the journey, again, we never gave up and we had to be creative and just reassess. But at first I feel we didn’t succeed because we were trying to bite off more than we could chew. You can’t boil the ocean. We tried to just minimize and figure out where are we going to have the biggest impact. From a business case criteria perspective, I think that it was a great cross-functional collaboration between us and HR to determine what is the key criteria that’s important for Tech Data.

We had actually broken it down. We actually put it out through RFP. There were four different parties that we were looking at and across some looking at criteria for usability, personalization, search, content management, strategy, those were I think our four biggest ones, but then other key criteria was translations we’re multi national corporation in over 40 countries. How did that come into play? Campaign management in some of these other areas, and then other areas where we were looking at, well, what are the administrative functions? Of course cost came down to it. But when we looked at it from a side-by-side comparison, that’s how we essentially came down to figuring out who was going to be the best fit for us.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

You mentioned a number of different criteria, and I know that you are looking to solve a very complex challenge. The organization was going through so many changes, as Laura mentioned, it’s all about how do we transform as an organization and stay up with the times. You mentioned a number of different criteria, Adam, but when you were thinking about how the business case and the criteria ended up selecting SocialChorus, as the platform to solve those business needs, what was it that really resonated or stood out to help you say, okay, this is the platform that solves exactly what we’re looking to do as an organization?

Adam Quinn:

I think ultimately it came down to user experience and we were looking for something across roles. Whether you’re an end user or a content contributor or an administrator having an ease of experience that is going to be able to have multiple people engaged to run this platform. The other is, I think we had gone through a project a few years back to build our own US-based intranet, and that was built on SharePoint and as many intranet to do over time, it gets a bit stale and stagnant and some areas are up to date some are not. We never had anything on a global scale for that, but we tried that approach. A lot of the other companies that are out there have a very similar approach where they take SharePoint, but it’s almost on steroids a little bit.

It’s still very, essentially the same from a management perspective on the backend, and that didn’t seem to work for us culturally. I think especially the communications team and Laura, you can chime in after this, of course, but the user experience, the consumer grade quality that you get as users of LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram or all these other ones, it was very apparent here. It stepped away from that old school intranet way of thinking. That also helped us shift our scope and our roadmap.

Laura Stewart:

That’s exactly right. Just how Adam put it, that was our, why. We had this aha moment, like, wait a second, we’ve been thinking about this as more of a, what do we call it, Adam, I think communications or company centric approach. Then we started going to a colleague centric approach. We were thinking really, how are we meeting our colleagues’ needs? That really resonated with leadership too, because they were starting to shift to more of a servant leadership mentality where it’s putting the right tools in our colleague’s hands to make them the most successful. This went hand in glove with that. We started thinking, all right, if we’re really going to transform the way that we’re communicating, we can’t just go with that, what we’ve done before.

We needed to reshape our thinking and pivot a little bit. Like Adam said, really get creative with it. We’ve been using this analogy that helped firm this up too, in our own minds of the way that we had been doing it before, it was almost like we were … The intranet experience was like a stock room. There’s a lot of really great stuff in there. I mean, there’s lots of information, there’s good stuff. It’s not always necessarily the freshest, but it’s there and we need to leverage it and we can’t get rid of that. But what we’re building here is the front of the store retail experience where we’re pulling out the freshest stock, we’re putting the stuff that our colleagues are interested or need to see right up front.

We’re creating new signage, we’re organizing it so that they can customize their experience and walk down the aisle that they’d like to walk down, to easily find what they need. It’s new signage, it’s a new way of organizing things, but that intranet, all of the stuff that’s back there is still there. It’s just that we’re optimizing the experience. We started looking at that, like Adam said, the user experience, kind of the retail walk in the front door, how can we make this super consumable and keep it fresh?

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I love one of the things that I remember us talking about is you had mentioned, this start is more of a functional, we need to revamp the intranet. But then after diving into it, you said, why do we need to revamp the intranet? It’s not just about doing something from a functional perspective, but we need to actually serve our colleagues with what they need. How did all of that shift in thinking change your entire process? I know you mentioned it completely changed the lens of what you needed out of a platform, but it’s not just a functional thing. It’s actual serving the needs of individuals in solving actual business case function. How did that shift your process as well?

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, I don’t know, Adam, if you had any thoughts on this, but I’ll start just from the standpoint of we’re starting with a communications platform. I think that when we made that decision, that that was where we were going to start. I think our objectives became a lot clearer because we’re doing two things we’re creating that user experience, but we’re also making things a lot more efficient on the backend for our communications teams. That changes our entire process. That’s, I guess one way of answering the question, the other, in terms of our process for getting this through and approved and done and out of the gate, I think it actually really shortened our timeline when we decided that this was the approach we were going to take, because looking at the entire digital workplace environment and the entire solution is daunting.

I mean there’s a lot to consider. There’s a lot of tools that are a part of the experience. We decided, you know what, we need to start somewhere. We need to start with what we’ve determined to be most important for our colleagues, which is getting the right information to the right people at the right time. In the midst of all this change this is so critical to get it right. Let’s start here. Then there’s more to look at again, the stock room and the other tools and things that integrate. But I think that approach really started to crystallize for us.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, no, definitely Laura. I feel on that front too, it was interesting when we were putting together our criteria I remember that we went through an exercise too, where we mapped our organizational, what’s the word I’m looking for? Our …

Laura Stewart:

Our organizational health index survey,

Adam Quinn:

Not the health index survey, no accountability, inclusion, collaboration-

Laura Stewart:

Our shared values.

Adam Quinn:

Our shared values. Thank you. We mapped those to the criteria that we had. Every piece of criteria that we had was mapped to one of those values. I think that that helped shift it as leadership changed. Then it also helped shape the scope. We know that there’s still the stockroom is there, it’s messy in parts. It needs to be cleaned up at some point in time, that’s going to be part of our overall roadmap for digital workplace strategy at Tech Data. This is going to be our front door and the other tools that we have in place are hopefully going to continue to be enhanced by this and work in tandem as we evolve to our future workplace for our employees.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, that’s great. I know that it took us awhile to get through, but we were successful on this journey. Thinking about everyone who’s joining us here today, what are some of the things that as they’re going through this journey, while it seems like it’s all rainbows all the time. There are going to be some challenges and hurdles that you have to get across to get something like this across the finish line. What are some of the things that you identified in your process that you can call out in advance, so others can think about as you’re going through this process, what should you be aware of and what can you get ahead of to help you get something like this across the finish line?

Laura Stewart:

One of the first things that comes to mind for me is that way back when we went through a pilot that Adam spoke about in the US, and it was really just moving from SharePoint on prem to SharePoint online, and it was our intranet. We had our email over here and we had our intranet and those were the two things that we were dealing with. But I think we were thinking about the solution first, the technology first versus thinking about the problem we were trying to solve for. Again, putting the user experience in front.

Now, I think Adam early on, you were saying, hold on, we got to think about the user experience, but either way, whether or not that’s really the approach that we took I do remember you saying that. But I think as a whole, the team that was responsible for that, I think we were really quick again, to be thinking about the solution before the problem we were trying to solve. I think it’s just an easy trap to fall into. I think that it’s important to just take a step back and think, okay, what are we trying to solve for? Who are we serving? Then look at exploring all of the solutions that can solve for that rather than the other way around.

Adam Quinn:

Putting the employee at the center was the game changer for us when we shifted that. That helped explain things even better because everybody at the company, whether you’re talking to our senior leaders, trying to convince them that this is a valid project or end users, consumers of the information who are getting bombarded with hundreds of emails every day. They all know what that experience is. I think for a lot of organizations, particularly large organizations that move very quickly, it’s hard to get an inward facing project that is going to help the internal teams be more efficient and more productive together because everything’s all focused on generating money and making outward facing things so often anyways that I found. That was a hard hurdle to overcome.

I think that that was part of it is that over time, as we tried to do it, one, our scope was different, but there was too many other important things going on in the external, no, this isn’t the right time for that. We had three chances, and the third chance we finally got it right. I think the cross-functional collaboration where we determined communications was the driver. Your needs were first, but then there were also other needs to consider HR, for example, and the need for translation capabilities here within our communications. That was one of the big drivers for their aspect. Then IT, from a supportability perspective, a deployment perspective and then also working with other parts of the organization.

Our legal and our procurement teams, our IT security teams, we have certain data processing agreements that we need to make sure that we can follow. If certain companies can’t meet that, we’re not able to work with them. Vetting that out upfront was also very helpful and just making sure that, hey, is there any red flags that we need to be aware of in advance or are we all good? Then that’s ultimately what helped us to drive to start building upon a modern workplace ecosystem.

Laura Stewart:

I think when you’re thinking about what’s important to your leadership, typically things like cross geography or cross organizational collaboration is important to most leaders I think. At Tech data, it’s one of our shared values. Clearly as Adam said, we were looking at our shared values because that is the center foundation of our organization. We knew that if we were linking our solution back to our shared values and our business objectives, that that was going to give us that voice that we needed to get this pushed through. That was a big one, that collaboration piece was huge. It’s important to do that.

Then the other thing is and I wouldn’t call it a hurdle, but it could have been if we didn’t have the data to back up what we were asking for. We had pulled some of the results from those surveys that I talked about, but also the communications audit that we did, where we were really listening and shaping our solution around what we were hearing from our colleagues, since we had determined that we were taking that approach of being very colleague centric. All that really resonated with our leadership.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One thing I think can be easier said than done. When you mentioned that Laura is, it’s not just, cross-functional when you’re thinking about the business case, but it’s to your point cross geography. When you’re thinking about every colleague and what they need, how did you work to ensure it wasn’t just about your employees and your Florida headquarters or just the US but it’s truly about the entirety of Tech Data across the globe. I know in your implementation, you’re really thinking heavily about focusing on Benelux and how do we get them onboard. Talk a little bit about that cross geography approach and how you were able to tie that in.

Laura Stewart:

I think Adam could speak to the IT piece, but from a communications perspective we have a really great cross geographic team of kind of a communications network of global communications leads from each of our three regions. That really helps because I think we have a lot of trust in cross-collaboration, we have a global communications and brand council that meets on a monthly basis. We are on again, regular discussions with them. When this project started to build momentum, especially in the beginning too, we would keep in touch with things like the communications audit or progress that we were making along the way, and trying to reshape this business case. But once we started to really gain momentum, that’s when we really did the more concentrated outreach to say, okay, here’s where we are with the project. We would love as many of you as possible to be involved in it.

There was a ton of enthusiasm, obviously because it’s a great platform and it’s going to make our lives as communicators a lot easier too. A lot of enthusiasm and immediate willingness to collaborate together. That’s really been the easiest part of this process, I think, is to get that collaboration across the geographies. That’s been the case with human resources too. We’ve got a great team that has been involved across the three geographies and their feedback and partnership has been really key, but I think Adam could probably speak to the ITPs in terms of across the geos.

Adam Quinn:

I mean, overall on this project, we’ve had a pretty small IT team involved. I’ve helped to get engagement from our respective architecture security teams. But I mean, on the whole, it’s been a pretty small group of us but we are a pretty big functional group, but I mean, SocialChorus is doing a lot of the help from an integration perspective and it’s not a very heavy lift for IT. That’s another reason why, because we have, I think over a hundred IT projects in flight this year and our resources are very strapped. Finding something that was easy to implement was also critical. I feel from a growth perspective we wanted to meet the end user where they are and have really a personalized approach. Audience targeting is key. When we first started talking about it, we needed to solve for this on the global scale. We needed something that could touch all of our employees around the world more than just sending an email message or a newsletter.

Then from there we see it almost as a tiered approach where you’ve got your regional needs, you’ve got your country level needs. Then you’ve also got your departmental and team needs. As we looked at it, our main goal was at first global, but now we’re looking down and using our Benelux, which is the Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg area of our business as a pilot from a country level where they’re gonna have their own country level channel and push things out there. Then the end users from Benelux will see that content along with the global content and then also a select area of different channels that we are going to be featuring. There’s going to be what an IT channel at diversity, equity and inclusion channel, a furry pets channel but different things. Then the end user is genuinely getting the communications they need is derived from Corp com the communications that are reasonably applicable to them, and then the communications that they want for the areas of interest that they share.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I think you both did a great job thinking about that cross geography. It’s not just what we need to push out, but there is a ton of important business, critical information across the world. We need to make sure we’re enabling anyone who has that information to be able to deliver it to their specific group of colleagues. I think that was a key thing. One of the things that you mentioned, Adam was around, there’s emails, there’s newsletters, there’s a lot of other tools in the ecosystem, and this is something that oftentimes can come up as a challenge or something in the processes. Where did you envision SocialChorus fitting within your tech stack? As far as I know you have a number of other tools, some of which you are planning to phase out with SocialChorus, but how does this fit in and how do you define to leadership what the ecosystem looks like with SocialChorus?

Laura Stewart:

From a communications perspective, I’ll jump in and then Adam, maybe you can look at the broader scope of all of our tools, but we really wanted to simplify the way that we’re reaching our colleagues. There’s, you mentioned different newsletters and really when we look across the geographies, there’s much more than just the two global newsletters that we send as a global team. Our primary channel for communications has been email. We’ve been driving all of our updates and information through email, but then we’ve got this other place to go. That’s just been not widely used, but the intranet, which was not optimized globally. Then by the way, trickling in are things like Microsoft teams and Skype, all sorts of different things where people can get their information.

What we really wanted to do is create that digital front door where our colleagues have one place to go, one source not necessarily one place to go. Because I know that they can consume this information either on their mobile phone or desktop, and we can certainly meet them where they are, but we wanted to streamline the source. Again, The Current of fresh flow of information. Yes, in doing so from a communications perspective, we do plan to phase out some of our other tools that we use for newsletters and go from that more biweekly, heavy build approach where we’re putting a ton of information in a newsletter that colleagues have to wait for.

We want it to be a lot more dynamic, real time or posting it as it happens. Then that newsletter concept is really more of a hey in case you missed it, that leads them right back to The Current. In fact, our previous newsletter was called The Wire. It kind of works with The Current because the wire you can connect to the current anyway. Still playing with that more to come, but it’s really all about simplifying and not only for again, the end user, but also for our communications colleagues that previously were posting two, three, four different places in order to get this information to our colleagues. Now they can do it in one place and then meet our colleagues where they are through the platform.

Adam Quinn:

Well, I think it’s important to point out I don’t think that we’ve said it on the call, but we are mid implementation right now. I saw a couple of questions coming through the chat, but we are not yet live. We are going live next month. We are going live with a small pilot in another week or so. This is going to be evolving to that point, how the users adopt it, how we intersect it with our intranets and other environments. Workday is another component because that’s our HRIS and we have other areas that, that links out to. It really is going to be our first place to cohesively put together not only the communications, but access points to these other tools at a global scale that our global community uses.

As well as then narrowing down the same way I think in the future, as it evolves, we’ll go a little bit more reasonable, a little bit more local. That myself being an American employee, maybe see links to my benefits that aren’t applicable to my colleagues over in Germany and they see what’s relevant to them. I think that it’s going to continue to evolve. I feel like over the course of time, it’s going to shift how we use the other tools and probably make a couple of them redundant.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

When you mentioned Laura, it’s that front door, but it’s also reaching them where it’s convenient for them. I did see a message in the chat coming around when you’re thinking about those end points or how you’re going to reach employees where it’s easiest for them. How are you going to reach say your non-connected employees? That’s in the question we got in the chat, but what are the different ways that you’re thinking of the end points that different groups of employees will need to be able to be reached on?

Laura Stewart:

We do have a challenge there with our logistics center colleagues, many of whom don’t have a mobile phone on them even, or a desktop to work from. We’ve talked about a few different things. One of them is to create a channel for leadership in those logistics centers so that they can be plugged in, but also collaborate and use that as a way to then share information almost like their own newsletter in a way, but it’s more real time. Again, we’re not doing another newsletter or sending it to their email inbox. They can plug in, get the information they need and then share it.

Another thing that we will explore is digital signage because our colleagues in our logistics centers do rely on digital signage for their source of information. There’s different ways that we’ll try and get creative, but those are two things that come to mind upfront. Again, as Adam said, we haven’t really launched yet, and this is definitely going to be a journey, but I definitely feel that there’s a ton of opportunity and a lot of low-hanging fruit, quite frankly, of things that will make our communications a lot more effective across the globe.

Adam Quinn:

I think the mobility factor is another key area like you mentioned, Laura, especially with the logistics. I know that when they’re on the job, a lot of times they have to check in their phones. They can’t bring them back there with them, but after that, there’s the opportunity to access it through the app and have those communications common. They don’t really use that today. I say that corporate wide, we’re pretty green as far as using mobile devices. Like we’re pretty desktop oriented folks. Again, I see this as an opportunity to help shift the culture a bit in more of a modern, consumer grade experience for these communications.

Laura Stewart:

I think mostly because what we’ve used to date hasn’t necessarily been optimized for the mobile experience. But yes, we are hoping ideally as we look ahead, I think a great success would be to see a lot of adoption with the mobile app, because that way it’s right in colleague’s hands and not everyone’s again. But I think it’ll start to reshape the way that we’re connecting.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I know as we’re on this journey, you both have very lofty and ambitious goals for how, The Current is going to transform the organization, not just from a communications perspective, but the overall employee experience. What does that vision for success look like if you were to say this was our business case, and this is it being solved, what does that vision for success truly look like with The Current?

Laura Stewart:

So many things. I think first and foremost, shaping a solution that is really colleague centric and seeing a high level of engagement is going to be really gratifying. Right now we do have some metrics to know how we’re reaching our colleagues. It varies depending on the publication between mid fifties and 65%, which is actually not bad. It’s close to benchmark, but when you hit a 65% open rate, you know that you’re still missing 35% of your organization. I think even if we saw an up take of engagement by 5% in the first six months, that’s a lot of colleagues that we’re reaching. I think that would feel like a lot of progress toward really moving the needle and driving our engagement. But also I think, Adam, just on the softer side of that I think Adam touched on this a little bit, but that cultural change of driving an environment where there’s a lot more two way dialogue going on, where we’re able to get a more human and real conversation going.

It’s not so much of this manufactured communications that come from corporate and they’re pushed at you, but it’s more of a real time consumption of information, but also a dialogue. So our colleagues can really feel like they’ve got a voice and can get involved, and that’s what SocialChorus I think offers us. I think we’ll see, hopefully, in the near not so distant future that we get that dialogue going and that we can start to change the conversation a little bit. So it’s not so much top down as it is bottom up or even side to side that we’re changing that culture. That will be a big, I think, success if we can reach that within the first six months.

Adam Quinn:

I completely agree, Laura, I was going to comment also on that, the two way dialogue it’s been so long that it’s just been one way communications, and we do have pockets of two way, but not at the corporate or at the global level. There isn’t really that level of engagement. That’s going to be a new shift for the organization, both from an end-user perspective, but also for the communications teams that we pointed out that, hey, you know what people are going to be giving you ideas. People are going to be pushing the envelope and challenging us. When that finally comes into a dynamic interplay of side to side, you see almost in a circle going back and forth, that’s when I think that it’s really going to be successful and that it’s going to be the driver for a lot of the things that we decide as an organization to do.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One of the things that I think is interesting too, about your approach is you’ve been talking about colleagues centric. It’s not just top down, but even shifting how top-down communications work. Previous leadership communications were one way and we’re looking to make it more authentic and connect your colleagues to the leaders of the organization. How are you going to be doing that shift as well?

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, I think that’s one of the more exciting parts of the platform is that we have some leaders that are really great at engaging with colleagues. Right now there’s different ways that we’re doing that live stream events, for example, or smaller round tables, but this is such a fantastic channel for them to use it as a way to share their own authentic voice and connect and comment. We do have a colleague recognition tool that we use, but I think connecting the two so that we can bring out the best in our colleague recognition as well, and give our leaders an opportunity to, again, just be very authentic and human and real. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to do that. We’re tossing ideas around, we haven’t necessarily landed on exactly how we’re going to move forward with that.

But I think a channel for our CEO or even our CEO staff is something that we’ve talked about so that they can share success stories. Again, I talked about the fact that we’re in the midst of transformation. We have a lot of awesome stories to share throughout our organization about how we’re transforming and we’ve been sharing those stories, but to have a leader talk about that from their own voice and share that and get into a two-way dialogue about that and provide some recognition to those colleagues from their own. Again, themselves is really powerful. We’re hoping to leverage that and do it in a more real-time format, through the platform.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

We did have a question that came into, and I think this is a future vision of success. Adam, I’m going to have you speak to this when you’re thinking about the experience of going just from the quote, unquote revamped, storefront to a user coming in and having that experience to do things like complete transactions, or make sure that they’re able to complete what they need from a work perspective. How do you envision this environment really all tying together?

Adam Quinn:

It’s a good question. I feel to be successful, we need to point the employees to where they need to have access points to. I feel we’re just starting this journey and there’s certain ways that you can go. Integration has been one component. When we were looking at solutions, how deep do you go with that? Right now we’re going to be using for example, the Benelux channel, we’re planning on having their newsfeed present on the homepage of their intranet site, which is much better use than the US one I should say, and as part of their culture.

We don’t want to break that. We want to keep that consistency going, but also still enable them from SocialChorus to be able to jump out to those points elsewhere, that they need to be able to do their jobs. I think again, it’s going to be evolved and it’s also going to evolve with, I think as our users start getting used to it and providing feedback for how things can get better. It’s not going to be exactly perfect from day one. We would probably never will be, but we will iteratively try to make the improvement better and better until finally you do get that cohesiveness of tools working together and really [inaudible 00:40:01] energizing the employee experience.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I think you both made two points. It’s about the user experience and having them have that integrated approach, but also Laura for your team, how do we serve everyone where they need? How are you able as a communicator to be able to publish to all these different channels, to ensure that they’re getting the local news, but what does that governance look like on your end when you’re thinking about that as well?

Laura Stewart:

We’re working through that right now, as we’re building out our governance structure, but what’s really nice about SocialChorus is that we can decentralize our communications more than we’ve been able to do before. We will have some channels that are not open necessarily to a user generated content, like completely open that we’ll be screening for user generated content. We’re working out which channels are being led by which communications lead and who’s going to be managing that content. But we will also have some channels and probably smaller channels and some of the more creative ones like the furry friends, and we have a hashtag Tech Data life where that’ll be open for colleagues to contribute a wellbeing channel, wellbeing matters where our colleagues can talk about things related to wellbeing.

Those kinds of channels where they will not be governed as heavily because we want to drive that colleague engagement. But on the backend, there will be many channels that are managed by different communications leads. I think the platform will allow us to all leverage it in a much more efficient way, and cross-pollinate some of these communications, but be able to post them in one place and share them simultaneously rather than have to go through again, the arduous process of not only posting in many different places, but then also having … The way we operate today is a bit more manual and the way we even coordinate and make sure that we’re not on top of each other with communications and de-conflict.

I mean, sometimes we’re doing that over email still where we’re de-conflicting, let’s make sure we’re not and using an Excel calendar to make sure that we’re not overlapping communications and overwhelming our colleagues. The more sophisticated content management with SocialChorus is going to be really powerful for us. It will really help us, I think, streamline our governance.

Adam Quinn:

I think just to add to that Laura, the analytics behind it is going to be key as well, because today we have some. But really being able to drive down into what level of engagement, how much engagement around what types, videos from the president of the Americas, right now it goes out through email, you can’t connect. I think that that’s going to be a driver too, for how this evolves over time.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely and looking across campaigns too. That’s another thing that we’ve been challenged by up until now is that when we are talking about a transformation story, a success story, and we’re posting it to the Hub and then we’re posting it in a newsletter, and then we’re talking about it in an email and then maybe we post it to Yammer. At least from an internal standpoint, we right now are not looking across the board at how that story resonated and how are we reaching our colleagues. That’s going to be really powerful to be able to create, I think if I’ve got my nomenclature right, we’ll be calling that a campaign, but either or an initiative there’ll be tagging it so that we can look at the analytics and see how we’re doing with certain topics and campaigns. That I think will then drive our strategy and we’ll be able to really be thoughtful about how we are leveraging the platform and how we’re reaching our colleagues.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, and it’s an ever evolving strategy, right? You’re getting the analytics and consistently shifting how you’re doing things based on what initiatives are being engaged with. How do employees like to engage to that content, et cetera. I think you guys are taking a great approach to how we’re going to constantly evolve with the analytics and metrics that you have.

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:44:14].

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Go ahead Laura.

Laura Stewart:

I was just going to say, we’re thinking through too the channels that we’ll be promoting or that we’ll have open immediately, and then those that colleagues will opt into or subscribe to, because I think there’s a little bit of strategy behind that too. Putting it all out there versus saying, hey, when you take an active role in subscribing, then you’re going to be actively engaged in that content. Thinking through that strategy as well.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I know that strategy is key, and we had a question around the implementation process. I know we have a few minutes left, but Laura, Adam, if you want to speak to the strategic process of that implementation. I know you’ve been partnering with our strategic advisory team, but how has the strategy really shifted what you’re doing with the platform as well?

Laura Stewart:

We are in the process of building and completing our strategy and also our plans to announce this to the organization. That’s still taking shape, but the team has been really fantastic and no one asked me to make that plug by the way for SocialChorus, but all along the way, they’ve really guided us in making sure that we are leveraging the platform to meet our objectives. Again, it’s still taking shape, but I feel confident that this platform will truly allow us to transform our communications in the way that we’re reaching our colleagues and in a much more efficient way. More to come on that, but it’s been really successful so far and hopefully we’ll be able to check back in, in a month or so, and let everyone know that it was a great launch. As Adam said, it’s still a journey that we’re going to be on for the foreseeable future, but feel really good about where we are right now.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

For everyone on this journey, apologies, Adam I just want to say with the couple minutes we have left, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to them to get them through this journey, just like you did and Adam we’ll start with you there?

Adam Quinn:

Be creative, try to be creative with your approach and adapt because the message isn’t going to resonate with everyone the same way. I feel that was part of our challenge too, is getting everyone on the same page. The leads of communications had a different vision than our leaders in IT than our leaders in marketing, depending on who we were engaging at different points in time. It took us a while to shift the story until it finally caught on. Again, stick with it, but during the process, be creative and adaptive as you go on the path.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Great advice.

Laura Stewart:

I think mine would be to not underestimate the power of relationships that you’ve built across the organization. Again, across departments, functions, geographies, those partnerships were a game changer for us and they can really make or break a project. Not only the inputs that you get and the perspectives that you get across those functions and geographies, but oftentimes you’ll be a louder voice when you show that you’ve taken all those different perspectives into account and you go forward with the plan together as a cross functional and cross geographic unit.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes and you accomplish that very well Adam and Laura working together, and I had the wonderful pleasure of working with you both through this. I think you did an amazing job of IT and comms working in tandem. I think you are the exact example of how everyone should function through this. I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that you do with the platform, how you continue on this journey and ultimately make sure that we’re able to cross off all those boxes that we had originally had on that business case. Thank you both for your partnership and for sharing it with everyone today. We really appreciate all of the insights that you have for everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks Katelyn, it’s been a pleasure.

Laura Stewart:

It has. Thank you, Katelyn.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right. Enjoy the rest of it too and everyone.

Laura Stewart:

Thanks everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Bye.

Laura Stewart:

Bye.

 

Video Transcript

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right well, now we’ve got about 45 minutes and we got a lot of great information from Laura and Adam so we will dive in. We’ll start with some quick introductions. My name is Katelyn Turteltaub. I am one of the sales directors here, and I work with all of our partners in the Southeast portion of the United States. That is how I had the pleasure of working with Laura and Adam on their journey to becoming SocialChorus customers that we will be learning all about today. Laura, if you want to start by introducing yourself and then we’ll go over to Adam.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, thanks Katelyn. My name is Laura Stewart, as Katelyn said, and I’m the Director of Global Internal Communications and Digital Engagement at Tech Data. Adam.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks, Laura. Thanks Katelyn. Hi, Adam Quinn I am an IT enterprise consultant and I am our engagement lead for all the corporate functions, supporting our corporate communications as well as HR legal and finance teams.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Perfect. Thank you both. Similar to a lot of you who are tuned in whether you are a SocialChorus customer, on the journey of potentially becoming one, Laura and Adam are going to take us through what their journey looked like and how they got there. We’re going to start before we dive into the details with a little bit of context, Laura, if you want to give us some context on your Tech Data platform, at SocialChorus. I love the name of it. I think the name and the explanation behind it explains a lot about what you’re looking to do with organizations. We’re going to start there and then we’ll dive into how we got there.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely. Yeah, we’re excited about the name too, and our little dream team, our think tank that came up with that as soon as they said it, it resonated with me immediately. We’re calling it The Current. The reason for that is it will truly be our living dynamic source of news and updates and information and what we wanted it to convey too and I think it does is this fresh flow of information. We certainly don’t want to be stagnant with our news and communications and The Current gets at that. Also it has this cool double meaning. I mean, we’re in the tech space, so the cool double meaning is that it’s a power source.

That’s another way of looking at The Current, is that knowledge is power, and this is truly plugging our colleagues into that power source to keep our organization functioning. That’s really the reason why we chose it. I think so far the cool part is, is that everybody that we’ve talked to and put the name in front of it resonates immediately, and some of them have a different take on it, but it’s all relevant and meaningful. It’s really starting to catch on as something that I think will provide good energy to the platform. Again, another meaning, The Current.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

So many different meanings-

Laura Stewart:

I love them anyways.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

[inaudible 00:02:46] of the team, and I think it just goes to show exactly what you’re looking to do with the platform, how you’re looking to energize all of your employees as well globally. We’re really looking forward to sharing a bit more about that today. To kick it off, I know that this is a journey that Tech Data has been on for a while. I know Laura from a communications perspective, this is something years in the making that you’ve been looking to do is we need to bring on a new platform, modernize our technology, and really create a better digital employee experience for all of our Tech Data employees around the globe. As hard as you were pushing and everything, it wasn’t until Adam and IT really teamed up and partnered that we were able to fully take this across the finish line.

Let’s start with talking a little bit about how did you build the business case as far as communications and IT working together in partnership. We’ll start with you Laura, since you were on this journey a little bit longer, and then we’ll bring in Adam’s perspective on IT as well.

Laura Stewart:

Thank you, Katelyn, the partnership really between comms and IT was key. We, Adam and I have been on … Actually Adam has been on it just as long as I have, we’ve been on this journey for, it seems like forever, doesn’t it Adam?

Adam Quinn:

Yeah.

Laura Stewart:

But it was our partnership along the way was I would say really the glue that held it together, but we kept really strong partnerships throughout the organization too particularly in human resources with our VP of our HRIS team our human resources information systems. Then also in other corporate services and other geographies I mean, that was really, I think a game changer for us is that we continue to connect and as we reshaped the business case we kept our relationship strong and continued to socialize it.

I would say that that was the second thing that tipped the scales in our favor is that we really never gave up. I think we talked a little while ago about the fact that there was no straight line to getting this done and I mean, in any organization, but certainly ours things change, priorities change. We were constantly evolving. We needed to be willing to pivot and get creative, but we were together all along the way. Not only problem solving, but also listening to our colleagues and really seeking to understand. There were a couple of different ways that we did that. We had a organizational health index survey that went out to all colleagues and engagement survey the year after that, or year or two after that. We were collecting data along the way.

We did a communications audit to try to do some round tables and really understand how our colleagues were consuming communications. Then with those inputs, we then went back and partnered with Adam and the IT team and our other colleagues to say, okay, this is what we’re hearing, and in order to really shape our why and serve our colleagues, we needed to use that data to shape our story. Then lastly, I’ll say the other thing that really tipped the scales is that communications was elevated to have a seat at the CEO staff table. That was a big game changer too, because it was this perfect alignment of we were getting some really good inputs and data from the organization. We were really starting to understand our, why we had these partnerships that were already kind of … We had this foundation and we were willing to continue to reshape our business case and all of that was coming together and then two things happened.

The first one was communications was elevated to the CEO staff table. We then had a stronger voice and our CEO made it very clear that communications was really a priority. That was really huge because then we could start to say, okay, well, we know that there’s a better way to be engaging with our colleagues and so we need to start shaping that. Then the second thing was our organization was undergoing or starting to undergo a massive transformation. We knew we needed to not only have a tool that would help us through that transformation, but also this is a way of transforming ourselves to and transforming the way that we’re communicating. All those things came together at once and it didn’t all happen right away. Again, this was a several year journey and just never giving up and staying together along the way, but it finally came to fruition after several years of hanging in there.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, it definitely did, Laura. I feel that throughout that whole journey, we kept a regular cadence between us to just stay on track and as things deviated and came back, this is the third year that we tried to get this across the finish line to actually become a project. We finally were able to make that happen. But during the journey, again, we never gave up and we had to be creative and just reassess. But at first I feel we didn’t succeed because we were trying to bite off more than we could chew. You can’t boil the ocean. We tried to just minimize and figure out where are we going to have the biggest impact. From a business case criteria perspective, I think that it was a great cross-functional collaboration between us and HR to determine what is the key criteria that’s important for Tech Data.

We had actually broken it down. We actually put it out through RFP. There were four different parties that we were looking at and across some looking at criteria for usability, personalization, search, content management, strategy, those were I think our four biggest ones, but then other key criteria was translations we’re multi national corporation in over 40 countries. How did that come into play? Campaign management in some of these other areas, and then other areas where we were looking at, well, what are the administrative functions? Of course cost came down to it. But when we looked at it from a side-by-side comparison, that’s how we essentially came down to figuring out who was going to be the best fit for us.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

You mentioned a number of different criteria, and I know that you are looking to solve a very complex challenge. The organization was going through so many changes, as Laura mentioned, it’s all about how do we transform as an organization and stay up with the times. You mentioned a number of different criteria, Adam, but when you were thinking about how the business case and the criteria ended up selecting SocialChorus, as the platform to solve those business needs, what was it that really resonated or stood out to help you say, okay, this is the platform that solves exactly what we’re looking to do as an organization?

Adam Quinn:

I think ultimately it came down to user experience and we were looking for something across roles. Whether you’re an end user or a content contributor or an administrator having an ease of experience that is going to be able to have multiple people engaged to run this platform. The other is, I think we had gone through a project a few years back to build our own US-based intranet, and that was built on SharePoint and as many intranet to do over time, it gets a bit stale and stagnant and some areas are up to date some are not. We never had anything on a global scale for that, but we tried that approach. A lot of the other companies that are out there have a very similar approach where they take SharePoint, but it’s almost on steroids a little bit.

It’s still very, essentially the same from a management perspective on the backend, and that didn’t seem to work for us culturally. I think especially the communications team and Laura, you can chime in after this, of course, but the user experience, the consumer grade quality that you get as users of LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram or all these other ones, it was very apparent here. It stepped away from that old school intranet way of thinking. That also helped us shift our scope and our roadmap.

Laura Stewart:

That’s exactly right. Just how Adam put it, that was our, why. We had this aha moment, like, wait a second, we’ve been thinking about this as more of a, what do we call it, Adam, I think communications or company centric approach. Then we started going to a colleague centric approach. We were thinking really, how are we meeting our colleagues’ needs? That really resonated with leadership too, because they were starting to shift to more of a servant leadership mentality where it’s putting the right tools in our colleague’s hands to make them the most successful. This went hand in glove with that. We started thinking, all right, if we’re really going to transform the way that we’re communicating, we can’t just go with that, what we’ve done before.

We needed to reshape our thinking and pivot a little bit. Like Adam said, really get creative with it. We’ve been using this analogy that helped firm this up too, in our own minds of the way that we had been doing it before, it was almost like we were … The intranet experience was like a stock room. There’s a lot of really great stuff in there. I mean, there’s lots of information, there’s good stuff. It’s not always necessarily the freshest, but it’s there and we need to leverage it and we can’t get rid of that. But what we’re building here is the front of the store retail experience where we’re pulling out the freshest stock, we’re putting the stuff that our colleagues are interested or need to see right up front.

We’re creating new signage, we’re organizing it so that they can customize their experience and walk down the aisle that they’d like to walk down, to easily find what they need. It’s new signage, it’s a new way of organizing things, but that intranet, all of the stuff that’s back there is still there. It’s just that we’re optimizing the experience. We started looking at that, like Adam said, the user experience, kind of the retail walk in the front door, how can we make this super consumable and keep it fresh?

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I love one of the things that I remember us talking about is you had mentioned, this start is more of a functional, we need to revamp the intranet. But then after diving into it, you said, why do we need to revamp the intranet? It’s not just about doing something from a functional perspective, but we need to actually serve our colleagues with what they need. How did all of that shift in thinking change your entire process? I know you mentioned it completely changed the lens of what you needed out of a platform, but it’s not just a functional thing. It’s actual serving the needs of individuals in solving actual business case function. How did that shift your process as well?

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, I don’t know, Adam, if you had any thoughts on this, but I’ll start just from the standpoint of we’re starting with a communications platform. I think that when we made that decision, that that was where we were going to start. I think our objectives became a lot clearer because we’re doing two things we’re creating that user experience, but we’re also making things a lot more efficient on the backend for our communications teams. That changes our entire process. That’s, I guess one way of answering the question, the other, in terms of our process for getting this through and approved and done and out of the gate, I think it actually really shortened our timeline when we decided that this was the approach we were going to take, because looking at the entire digital workplace environment and the entire solution is daunting.

I mean there’s a lot to consider. There’s a lot of tools that are a part of the experience. We decided, you know what, we need to start somewhere. We need to start with what we’ve determined to be most important for our colleagues, which is getting the right information to the right people at the right time. In the midst of all this change this is so critical to get it right. Let’s start here. Then there’s more to look at again, the stock room and the other tools and things that integrate. But I think that approach really started to crystallize for us.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, no, definitely Laura. I feel on that front too, it was interesting when we were putting together our criteria I remember that we went through an exercise too, where we mapped our organizational, what’s the word I’m looking for? Our …

Laura Stewart:

Our organizational health index survey,

Adam Quinn:

Not the health index survey, no accountability, inclusion, collaboration-

Laura Stewart:

Our shared values.

Adam Quinn:

Our shared values. Thank you. We mapped those to the criteria that we had. Every piece of criteria that we had was mapped to one of those values. I think that that helped shift it as leadership changed. Then it also helped shape the scope. We know that there’s still the stockroom is there, it’s messy in parts. It needs to be cleaned up at some point in time, that’s going to be part of our overall roadmap for digital workplace strategy at Tech Data. This is going to be our front door and the other tools that we have in place are hopefully going to continue to be enhanced by this and work in tandem as we evolve to our future workplace for our employees.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, that’s great. I know that it took us awhile to get through, but we were successful on this journey. Thinking about everyone who’s joining us here today, what are some of the things that as they’re going through this journey, while it seems like it’s all rainbows all the time. There are going to be some challenges and hurdles that you have to get across to get something like this across the finish line. What are some of the things that you identified in your process that you can call out in advance, so others can think about as you’re going through this process, what should you be aware of and what can you get ahead of to help you get something like this across the finish line?

Laura Stewart:

One of the first things that comes to mind for me is that way back when we went through a pilot that Adam spoke about in the US, and it was really just moving from SharePoint on prem to SharePoint online, and it was our intranet. We had our email over here and we had our intranet and those were the two things that we were dealing with. But I think we were thinking about the solution first, the technology first versus thinking about the problem we were trying to solve for. Again, putting the user experience in front.

Now, I think Adam early on, you were saying, hold on, we got to think about the user experience, but either way, whether or not that’s really the approach that we took I do remember you saying that. But I think as a whole, the team that was responsible for that, I think we were really quick again, to be thinking about the solution before the problem we were trying to solve. I think it’s just an easy trap to fall into. I think that it’s important to just take a step back and think, okay, what are we trying to solve for? Who are we serving? Then look at exploring all of the solutions that can solve for that rather than the other way around.

Adam Quinn:

Putting the employee at the center was the game changer for us when we shifted that. That helped explain things even better because everybody at the company, whether you’re talking to our senior leaders, trying to convince them that this is a valid project or end users, consumers of the information who are getting bombarded with hundreds of emails every day. They all know what that experience is. I think for a lot of organizations, particularly large organizations that move very quickly, it’s hard to get an inward facing project that is going to help the internal teams be more efficient and more productive together because everything’s all focused on generating money and making outward facing things so often anyways that I found. That was a hard hurdle to overcome.

I think that that was part of it is that over time, as we tried to do it, one, our scope was different, but there was too many other important things going on in the external, no, this isn’t the right time for that. We had three chances, and the third chance we finally got it right. I think the cross-functional collaboration where we determined communications was the driver. Your needs were first, but then there were also other needs to consider HR, for example, and the need for translation capabilities here within our communications. That was one of the big drivers for their aspect. Then IT, from a supportability perspective, a deployment perspective and then also working with other parts of the organization.

Our legal and our procurement teams, our IT security teams, we have certain data processing agreements that we need to make sure that we can follow. If certain companies can’t meet that, we’re not able to work with them. Vetting that out upfront was also very helpful and just making sure that, hey, is there any red flags that we need to be aware of in advance or are we all good? Then that’s ultimately what helped us to drive to start building upon a modern workplace ecosystem.

Laura Stewart:

I think when you’re thinking about what’s important to your leadership, typically things like cross geography or cross organizational collaboration is important to most leaders I think. At Tech data, it’s one of our shared values. Clearly as Adam said, we were looking at our shared values because that is the center foundation of our organization. We knew that if we were linking our solution back to our shared values and our business objectives, that that was going to give us that voice that we needed to get this pushed through. That was a big one, that collaboration piece was huge. It’s important to do that.

Then the other thing is and I wouldn’t call it a hurdle, but it could have been if we didn’t have the data to back up what we were asking for. We had pulled some of the results from those surveys that I talked about, but also the communications audit that we did, where we were really listening and shaping our solution around what we were hearing from our colleagues, since we had determined that we were taking that approach of being very colleague centric. All that really resonated with our leadership.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One thing I think can be easier said than done. When you mentioned that Laura is, it’s not just, cross-functional when you’re thinking about the business case, but it’s to your point cross geography. When you’re thinking about every colleague and what they need, how did you work to ensure it wasn’t just about your employees and your Florida headquarters or just the US but it’s truly about the entirety of Tech Data across the globe. I know in your implementation, you’re really thinking heavily about focusing on Benelux and how do we get them onboard. Talk a little bit about that cross geography approach and how you were able to tie that in.

Laura Stewart:

I think Adam could speak to the IT piece, but from a communications perspective we have a really great cross geographic team of kind of a communications network of global communications leads from each of our three regions. That really helps because I think we have a lot of trust in cross-collaboration, we have a global communications and brand council that meets on a monthly basis. We are on again, regular discussions with them. When this project started to build momentum, especially in the beginning too, we would keep in touch with things like the communications audit or progress that we were making along the way, and trying to reshape this business case. But once we started to really gain momentum, that’s when we really did the more concentrated outreach to say, okay, here’s where we are with the project. We would love as many of you as possible to be involved in it.

There was a ton of enthusiasm, obviously because it’s a great platform and it’s going to make our lives as communicators a lot easier too. A lot of enthusiasm and immediate willingness to collaborate together. That’s really been the easiest part of this process, I think, is to get that collaboration across the geographies. That’s been the case with human resources too. We’ve got a great team that has been involved across the three geographies and their feedback and partnership has been really key, but I think Adam could probably speak to the ITPs in terms of across the geos.

Adam Quinn:

I mean, overall on this project, we’ve had a pretty small IT team involved. I’ve helped to get engagement from our respective architecture security teams. But I mean, on the whole, it’s been a pretty small group of us but we are a pretty big functional group, but I mean, SocialChorus is doing a lot of the help from an integration perspective and it’s not a very heavy lift for IT. That’s another reason why, because we have, I think over a hundred IT projects in flight this year and our resources are very strapped. Finding something that was easy to implement was also critical. I feel from a growth perspective we wanted to meet the end user where they are and have really a personalized approach. Audience targeting is key. When we first started talking about it, we needed to solve for this on the global scale. We needed something that could touch all of our employees around the world more than just sending an email message or a newsletter.

Then from there we see it almost as a tiered approach where you’ve got your regional needs, you’ve got your country level needs. Then you’ve also got your departmental and team needs. As we looked at it, our main goal was at first global, but now we’re looking down and using our Benelux, which is the Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg area of our business as a pilot from a country level where they’re gonna have their own country level channel and push things out there. Then the end users from Benelux will see that content along with the global content and then also a select area of different channels that we are going to be featuring. There’s going to be what an IT channel at diversity, equity and inclusion channel, a furry pets channel but different things. Then the end user is genuinely getting the communications they need is derived from Corp com the communications that are reasonably applicable to them, and then the communications that they want for the areas of interest that they share.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I think you both did a great job thinking about that cross geography. It’s not just what we need to push out, but there is a ton of important business, critical information across the world. We need to make sure we’re enabling anyone who has that information to be able to deliver it to their specific group of colleagues. I think that was a key thing. One of the things that you mentioned, Adam was around, there’s emails, there’s newsletters, there’s a lot of other tools in the ecosystem, and this is something that oftentimes can come up as a challenge or something in the processes. Where did you envision SocialChorus fitting within your tech stack? As far as I know you have a number of other tools, some of which you are planning to phase out with SocialChorus, but how does this fit in and how do you define to leadership what the ecosystem looks like with SocialChorus?

Laura Stewart:

From a communications perspective, I’ll jump in and then Adam, maybe you can look at the broader scope of all of our tools, but we really wanted to simplify the way that we’re reaching our colleagues. There’s, you mentioned different newsletters and really when we look across the geographies, there’s much more than just the two global newsletters that we send as a global team. Our primary channel for communications has been email. We’ve been driving all of our updates and information through email, but then we’ve got this other place to go. That’s just been not widely used, but the intranet, which was not optimized globally. Then by the way, trickling in are things like Microsoft teams and Skype, all sorts of different things where people can get their information.

What we really wanted to do is create that digital front door where our colleagues have one place to go, one source not necessarily one place to go. Because I know that they can consume this information either on their mobile phone or desktop, and we can certainly meet them where they are, but we wanted to streamline the source. Again, The Current of fresh flow of information. Yes, in doing so from a communications perspective, we do plan to phase out some of our other tools that we use for newsletters and go from that more biweekly, heavy build approach where we’re putting a ton of information in a newsletter that colleagues have to wait for.

We want it to be a lot more dynamic, real time or posting it as it happens. Then that newsletter concept is really more of a hey in case you missed it, that leads them right back to The Current. In fact, our previous newsletter was called The Wire. It kind of works with The Current because the wire you can connect to the current anyway. Still playing with that more to come, but it’s really all about simplifying and not only for again, the end user, but also for our communications colleagues that previously were posting two, three, four different places in order to get this information to our colleagues. Now they can do it in one place and then meet our colleagues where they are through the platform.

Adam Quinn:

Well, I think it’s important to point out I don’t think that we’ve said it on the call, but we are mid implementation right now. I saw a couple of questions coming through the chat, but we are not yet live. We are going live next month. We are going live with a small pilot in another week or so. This is going to be evolving to that point, how the users adopt it, how we intersect it with our intranets and other environments. Workday is another component because that’s our HRIS and we have other areas that, that links out to. It really is going to be our first place to cohesively put together not only the communications, but access points to these other tools at a global scale that our global community uses.

As well as then narrowing down the same way I think in the future, as it evolves, we’ll go a little bit more reasonable, a little bit more local. That myself being an American employee, maybe see links to my benefits that aren’t applicable to my colleagues over in Germany and they see what’s relevant to them. I think that it’s going to continue to evolve. I feel like over the course of time, it’s going to shift how we use the other tools and probably make a couple of them redundant.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

When you mentioned Laura, it’s that front door, but it’s also reaching them where it’s convenient for them. I did see a message in the chat coming around when you’re thinking about those end points or how you’re going to reach employees where it’s easiest for them. How are you going to reach say your non-connected employees? That’s in the question we got in the chat, but what are the different ways that you’re thinking of the end points that different groups of employees will need to be able to be reached on?

Laura Stewart:

We do have a challenge there with our logistics center colleagues, many of whom don’t have a mobile phone on them even, or a desktop to work from. We’ve talked about a few different things. One of them is to create a channel for leadership in those logistics centers so that they can be plugged in, but also collaborate and use that as a way to then share information almost like their own newsletter in a way, but it’s more real time. Again, we’re not doing another newsletter or sending it to their email inbox. They can plug in, get the information they need and then share it.

Another thing that we will explore is digital signage because our colleagues in our logistics centers do rely on digital signage for their source of information. There’s different ways that we’ll try and get creative, but those are two things that come to mind upfront. Again, as Adam said, we haven’t really launched yet, and this is definitely going to be a journey, but I definitely feel that there’s a ton of opportunity and a lot of low-hanging fruit, quite frankly, of things that will make our communications a lot more effective across the globe.

Adam Quinn:

I think the mobility factor is another key area like you mentioned, Laura, especially with the logistics. I know that when they’re on the job, a lot of times they have to check in their phones. They can’t bring them back there with them, but after that, there’s the opportunity to access it through the app and have those communications common. They don’t really use that today. I say that corporate wide, we’re pretty green as far as using mobile devices. Like we’re pretty desktop oriented folks. Again, I see this as an opportunity to help shift the culture a bit in more of a modern, consumer grade experience for these communications.

Laura Stewart:

I think mostly because what we’ve used to date hasn’t necessarily been optimized for the mobile experience. But yes, we are hoping ideally as we look ahead, I think a great success would be to see a lot of adoption with the mobile app, because that way it’s right in colleague’s hands and not everyone’s again. But I think it’ll start to reshape the way that we’re connecting.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I know as we’re on this journey, you both have very lofty and ambitious goals for how, The Current is going to transform the organization, not just from a communications perspective, but the overall employee experience. What does that vision for success look like if you were to say this was our business case, and this is it being solved, what does that vision for success truly look like with The Current?

Laura Stewart:

So many things. I think first and foremost, shaping a solution that is really colleague centric and seeing a high level of engagement is going to be really gratifying. Right now we do have some metrics to know how we’re reaching our colleagues. It varies depending on the publication between mid fifties and 65%, which is actually not bad. It’s close to benchmark, but when you hit a 65% open rate, you know that you’re still missing 35% of your organization. I think even if we saw an up take of engagement by 5% in the first six months, that’s a lot of colleagues that we’re reaching. I think that would feel like a lot of progress toward really moving the needle and driving our engagement. But also I think, Adam, just on the softer side of that I think Adam touched on this a little bit, but that cultural change of driving an environment where there’s a lot more two way dialogue going on, where we’re able to get a more human and real conversation going.

It’s not so much of this manufactured communications that come from corporate and they’re pushed at you, but it’s more of a real time consumption of information, but also a dialogue. So our colleagues can really feel like they’ve got a voice and can get involved, and that’s what SocialChorus I think offers us. I think we’ll see, hopefully, in the near not so distant future that we get that dialogue going and that we can start to change the conversation a little bit. So it’s not so much top down as it is bottom up or even side to side that we’re changing that culture. That will be a big, I think, success if we can reach that within the first six months.

Adam Quinn:

I completely agree, Laura, I was going to comment also on that, the two way dialogue it’s been so long that it’s just been one way communications, and we do have pockets of two way, but not at the corporate or at the global level. There isn’t really that level of engagement. That’s going to be a new shift for the organization, both from an end-user perspective, but also for the communications teams that we pointed out that, hey, you know what people are going to be giving you ideas. People are going to be pushing the envelope and challenging us. When that finally comes into a dynamic interplay of side to side, you see almost in a circle going back and forth, that’s when I think that it’s really going to be successful and that it’s going to be the driver for a lot of the things that we decide as an organization to do.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One of the things that I think is interesting too, about your approach is you’ve been talking about colleagues centric. It’s not just top down, but even shifting how top-down communications work. Previous leadership communications were one way and we’re looking to make it more authentic and connect your colleagues to the leaders of the organization. How are you going to be doing that shift as well?

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, I think that’s one of the more exciting parts of the platform is that we have some leaders that are really great at engaging with colleagues. Right now there’s different ways that we’re doing that live stream events, for example, or smaller round tables, but this is such a fantastic channel for them to use it as a way to share their own authentic voice and connect and comment. We do have a colleague recognition tool that we use, but I think connecting the two so that we can bring out the best in our colleague recognition as well, and give our leaders an opportunity to, again, just be very authentic and human and real. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to do that. We’re tossing ideas around, we haven’t necessarily landed on exactly how we’re going to move forward with that.

But I think a channel for our CEO or even our CEO staff is something that we’ve talked about so that they can share success stories. Again, I talked about the fact that we’re in the midst of transformation. We have a lot of awesome stories to share throughout our organization about how we’re transforming and we’ve been sharing those stories, but to have a leader talk about that from their own voice and share that and get into a two-way dialogue about that and provide some recognition to those colleagues from their own. Again, themselves is really powerful. We’re hoping to leverage that and do it in a more real-time format, through the platform.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

We did have a question that came into, and I think this is a future vision of success. Adam, I’m going to have you speak to this when you’re thinking about the experience of going just from the quote, unquote revamped, storefront to a user coming in and having that experience to do things like complete transactions, or make sure that they’re able to complete what they need from a work perspective. How do you envision this environment really all tying together?

Adam Quinn:

It’s a good question. I feel to be successful, we need to point the employees to where they need to have access points to. I feel we’re just starting this journey and there’s certain ways that you can go. Integration has been one component. When we were looking at solutions, how deep do you go with that? Right now we’re going to be using for example, the Benelux channel, we’re planning on having their newsfeed present on the homepage of their intranet site, which is much better use than the US one I should say, and as part of their culture.

We don’t want to break that. We want to keep that consistency going, but also still enable them from SocialChorus to be able to jump out to those points elsewhere, that they need to be able to do their jobs. I think again, it’s going to be evolved and it’s also going to evolve with, I think as our users start getting used to it and providing feedback for how things can get better. It’s not going to be exactly perfect from day one. We would probably never will be, but we will iteratively try to make the improvement better and better until finally you do get that cohesiveness of tools working together and really [inaudible 00:40:01] energizing the employee experience.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I think you both made two points. It’s about the user experience and having them have that integrated approach, but also Laura for your team, how do we serve everyone where they need? How are you able as a communicator to be able to publish to all these different channels, to ensure that they’re getting the local news, but what does that governance look like on your end when you’re thinking about that as well?

Laura Stewart:

We’re working through that right now, as we’re building out our governance structure, but what’s really nice about SocialChorus is that we can decentralize our communications more than we’ve been able to do before. We will have some channels that are not open necessarily to a user generated content, like completely open that we’ll be screening for user generated content. We’re working out which channels are being led by which communications lead and who’s going to be managing that content. But we will also have some channels and probably smaller channels and some of the more creative ones like the furry friends, and we have a hashtag Tech Data life where that’ll be open for colleagues to contribute a wellbeing channel, wellbeing matters where our colleagues can talk about things related to wellbeing.

Those kinds of channels where they will not be governed as heavily because we want to drive that colleague engagement. But on the backend, there will be many channels that are managed by different communications leads. I think the platform will allow us to all leverage it in a much more efficient way, and cross-pollinate some of these communications, but be able to post them in one place and share them simultaneously rather than have to go through again, the arduous process of not only posting in many different places, but then also having … The way we operate today is a bit more manual and the way we even coordinate and make sure that we’re not on top of each other with communications and de-conflict.

I mean, sometimes we’re doing that over email still where we’re de-conflicting, let’s make sure we’re not and using an Excel calendar to make sure that we’re not overlapping communications and overwhelming our colleagues. The more sophisticated content management with SocialChorus is going to be really powerful for us. It will really help us, I think, streamline our governance.

Adam Quinn:

I think just to add to that Laura, the analytics behind it is going to be key as well, because today we have some. But really being able to drive down into what level of engagement, how much engagement around what types, videos from the president of the Americas, right now it goes out through email, you can’t connect. I think that that’s going to be a driver too, for how this evolves over time.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely and looking across campaigns too. That’s another thing that we’ve been challenged by up until now is that when we are talking about a transformation story, a success story, and we’re posting it to the Hub and then we’re posting it in a newsletter, and then we’re talking about it in an email and then maybe we post it to Yammer. At least from an internal standpoint, we right now are not looking across the board at how that story resonated and how are we reaching our colleagues. That’s going to be really powerful to be able to create, I think if I’ve got my nomenclature right, we’ll be calling that a campaign, but either or an initiative there’ll be tagging it so that we can look at the analytics and see how we’re doing with certain topics and campaigns. That I think will then drive our strategy and we’ll be able to really be thoughtful about how we are leveraging the platform and how we’re reaching our colleagues.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, and it’s an ever evolving strategy, right? You’re getting the analytics and consistently shifting how you’re doing things based on what initiatives are being engaged with. How do employees like to engage to that content, et cetera. I think you guys are taking a great approach to how we’re going to constantly evolve with the analytics and metrics that you have.

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:44:14].

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Go ahead Laura.

Laura Stewart:

I was just going to say, we’re thinking through too the channels that we’ll be promoting or that we’ll have open immediately, and then those that colleagues will opt into or subscribe to, because I think there’s a little bit of strategy behind that too. Putting it all out there versus saying, hey, when you take an active role in subscribing, then you’re going to be actively engaged in that content. Thinking through that strategy as well.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I know that strategy is key, and we had a question around the implementation process. I know we have a few minutes left, but Laura, Adam, if you want to speak to the strategic process of that implementation. I know you’ve been partnering with our strategic advisory team, but how has the strategy really shifted what you’re doing with the platform as well?

Laura Stewart:

We are in the process of building and completing our strategy and also our plans to announce this to the organization. That’s still taking shape, but the team has been really fantastic and no one asked me to make that plug by the way for SocialChorus, but all along the way, they’ve really guided us in making sure that we are leveraging the platform to meet our objectives. Again, it’s still taking shape, but I feel confident that this platform will truly allow us to transform our communications in the way that we’re reaching our colleagues and in a much more efficient way. More to come on that, but it’s been really successful so far and hopefully we’ll be able to check back in, in a month or so, and let everyone know that it was a great launch. As Adam said, it’s still a journey that we’re going to be on for the foreseeable future, but feel really good about where we are right now.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

For everyone on this journey, apologies, Adam I just want to say with the couple minutes we have left, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to them to get them through this journey, just like you did and Adam we’ll start with you there?

Adam Quinn:

Be creative, try to be creative with your approach and adapt because the message isn’t going to resonate with everyone the same way. I feel that was part of our challenge too, is getting everyone on the same page. The leads of communications had a different vision than our leaders in IT than our leaders in marketing, depending on who we were engaging at different points in time. It took us a while to shift the story until it finally caught on. Again, stick with it, but during the process, be creative and adaptive as you go on the path.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Great advice.

Laura Stewart:

I think mine would be to not underestimate the power of relationships that you’ve built across the organization. Again, across departments, functions, geographies, those partnerships were a game changer for us and they can really make or break a project. Not only the inputs that you get and the perspectives that you get across those functions and geographies, but oftentimes you’ll be a louder voice when you show that you’ve taken all those different perspectives into account and you go forward with the plan together as a cross functional and cross geographic unit.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes and you accomplish that very well Adam and Laura working together, and I had the wonderful pleasure of working with you both through this. I think you did an amazing job of IT and comms working in tandem. I think you are the exact example of how everyone should function through this. I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that you do with the platform, how you continue on this journey and ultimately make sure that we’re able to cross off all those boxes that we had originally had on that business case. Thank you both for your partnership and for sharing it with everyone today. We really appreciate all of the insights that you have for everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks Katelyn, it’s been a pleasure.

Laura Stewart:

It has. Thank you, Katelyn.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right. Enjoy the rest of it too and everyone.

Laura Stewart:

Thanks everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Bye.

Laura Stewart:

Bye.

 

Expand Transcript

Video Transcript

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right well, now we’ve got about 45 minutes and we got a lot of great information from Laura and Adam so we will dive in. We’ll start with some quick introductions. My name is Katelyn Turteltaub. I am one of the sales directors here, and I work with all of our partners in the Southeast portion of the United States. That is how I had the pleasure of working with Laura and Adam on their journey to becoming SocialChorus customers that we will be learning all about today. Laura, if you want to start by introducing yourself and then we’ll go over to Adam.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, thanks Katelyn. My name is Laura Stewart, as Katelyn said, and I’m the Director of Global Internal Communications and Digital Engagement at Tech Data. Adam.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks, Laura. Thanks Katelyn. Hi, Adam Quinn I am an IT enterprise consultant and I am our engagement lead for all the corporate functions, supporting our corporate communications as well as HR legal and finance teams.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Perfect. Thank you both. Similar to a lot of you who are tuned in whether you are a SocialChorus customer, on the journey of potentially becoming one, Laura and Adam are going to take us through what their journey looked like and how they got there. We’re going to start before we dive into the details with a little bit of context, Laura, if you want to give us some context on your Tech Data platform, at SocialChorus. I love the name of it. I think the name and the explanation behind it explains a lot about what you’re looking to do with organizations. We’re going to start there and then we’ll dive into how we got there.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely. Yeah, we’re excited about the name too, and our little dream team, our think tank that came up with that as soon as they said it, it resonated with me immediately. We’re calling it The Current. The reason for that is it will truly be our living dynamic source of news and updates and information and what we wanted it to convey too and I think it does is this fresh flow of information. We certainly don’t want to be stagnant with our news and communications and The Current gets at that. Also it has this cool double meaning. I mean, we’re in the tech space, so the cool double meaning is that it’s a power source.

That’s another way of looking at The Current, is that knowledge is power, and this is truly plugging our colleagues into that power source to keep our organization functioning. That’s really the reason why we chose it. I think so far the cool part is, is that everybody that we’ve talked to and put the name in front of it resonates immediately, and some of them have a different take on it, but it’s all relevant and meaningful. It’s really starting to catch on as something that I think will provide good energy to the platform. Again, another meaning, The Current.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

So many different meanings-

Laura Stewart:

I love them anyways.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

[inaudible 00:02:46] of the team, and I think it just goes to show exactly what you’re looking to do with the platform, how you’re looking to energize all of your employees as well globally. We’re really looking forward to sharing a bit more about that today. To kick it off, I know that this is a journey that Tech Data has been on for a while. I know Laura from a communications perspective, this is something years in the making that you’ve been looking to do is we need to bring on a new platform, modernize our technology, and really create a better digital employee experience for all of our Tech Data employees around the globe. As hard as you were pushing and everything, it wasn’t until Adam and IT really teamed up and partnered that we were able to fully take this across the finish line.

Let’s start with talking a little bit about how did you build the business case as far as communications and IT working together in partnership. We’ll start with you Laura, since you were on this journey a little bit longer, and then we’ll bring in Adam’s perspective on IT as well.

Laura Stewart:

Thank you, Katelyn, the partnership really between comms and IT was key. We, Adam and I have been on … Actually Adam has been on it just as long as I have, we’ve been on this journey for, it seems like forever, doesn’t it Adam?

Adam Quinn:

Yeah.

Laura Stewart:

But it was our partnership along the way was I would say really the glue that held it together, but we kept really strong partnerships throughout the organization too particularly in human resources with our VP of our HRIS team our human resources information systems. Then also in other corporate services and other geographies I mean, that was really, I think a game changer for us is that we continue to connect and as we reshaped the business case we kept our relationship strong and continued to socialize it.

I would say that that was the second thing that tipped the scales in our favor is that we really never gave up. I think we talked a little while ago about the fact that there was no straight line to getting this done and I mean, in any organization, but certainly ours things change, priorities change. We were constantly evolving. We needed to be willing to pivot and get creative, but we were together all along the way. Not only problem solving, but also listening to our colleagues and really seeking to understand. There were a couple of different ways that we did that. We had a organizational health index survey that went out to all colleagues and engagement survey the year after that, or year or two after that. We were collecting data along the way.

We did a communications audit to try to do some round tables and really understand how our colleagues were consuming communications. Then with those inputs, we then went back and partnered with Adam and the IT team and our other colleagues to say, okay, this is what we’re hearing, and in order to really shape our why and serve our colleagues, we needed to use that data to shape our story. Then lastly, I’ll say the other thing that really tipped the scales is that communications was elevated to have a seat at the CEO staff table. That was a big game changer too, because it was this perfect alignment of we were getting some really good inputs and data from the organization. We were really starting to understand our, why we had these partnerships that were already kind of … We had this foundation and we were willing to continue to reshape our business case and all of that was coming together and then two things happened.

The first one was communications was elevated to the CEO staff table. We then had a stronger voice and our CEO made it very clear that communications was really a priority. That was really huge because then we could start to say, okay, well, we know that there’s a better way to be engaging with our colleagues and so we need to start shaping that. Then the second thing was our organization was undergoing or starting to undergo a massive transformation. We knew we needed to not only have a tool that would help us through that transformation, but also this is a way of transforming ourselves to and transforming the way that we’re communicating. All those things came together at once and it didn’t all happen right away. Again, this was a several year journey and just never giving up and staying together along the way, but it finally came to fruition after several years of hanging in there.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, it definitely did, Laura. I feel that throughout that whole journey, we kept a regular cadence between us to just stay on track and as things deviated and came back, this is the third year that we tried to get this across the finish line to actually become a project. We finally were able to make that happen. But during the journey, again, we never gave up and we had to be creative and just reassess. But at first I feel we didn’t succeed because we were trying to bite off more than we could chew. You can’t boil the ocean. We tried to just minimize and figure out where are we going to have the biggest impact. From a business case criteria perspective, I think that it was a great cross-functional collaboration between us and HR to determine what is the key criteria that’s important for Tech Data.

We had actually broken it down. We actually put it out through RFP. There were four different parties that we were looking at and across some looking at criteria for usability, personalization, search, content management, strategy, those were I think our four biggest ones, but then other key criteria was translations we’re multi national corporation in over 40 countries. How did that come into play? Campaign management in some of these other areas, and then other areas where we were looking at, well, what are the administrative functions? Of course cost came down to it. But when we looked at it from a side-by-side comparison, that’s how we essentially came down to figuring out who was going to be the best fit for us.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

You mentioned a number of different criteria, and I know that you are looking to solve a very complex challenge. The organization was going through so many changes, as Laura mentioned, it’s all about how do we transform as an organization and stay up with the times. You mentioned a number of different criteria, Adam, but when you were thinking about how the business case and the criteria ended up selecting SocialChorus, as the platform to solve those business needs, what was it that really resonated or stood out to help you say, okay, this is the platform that solves exactly what we’re looking to do as an organization?

Adam Quinn:

I think ultimately it came down to user experience and we were looking for something across roles. Whether you’re an end user or a content contributor or an administrator having an ease of experience that is going to be able to have multiple people engaged to run this platform. The other is, I think we had gone through a project a few years back to build our own US-based intranet, and that was built on SharePoint and as many intranet to do over time, it gets a bit stale and stagnant and some areas are up to date some are not. We never had anything on a global scale for that, but we tried that approach. A lot of the other companies that are out there have a very similar approach where they take SharePoint, but it’s almost on steroids a little bit.

It’s still very, essentially the same from a management perspective on the backend, and that didn’t seem to work for us culturally. I think especially the communications team and Laura, you can chime in after this, of course, but the user experience, the consumer grade quality that you get as users of LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram or all these other ones, it was very apparent here. It stepped away from that old school intranet way of thinking. That also helped us shift our scope and our roadmap.

Laura Stewart:

That’s exactly right. Just how Adam put it, that was our, why. We had this aha moment, like, wait a second, we’ve been thinking about this as more of a, what do we call it, Adam, I think communications or company centric approach. Then we started going to a colleague centric approach. We were thinking really, how are we meeting our colleagues’ needs? That really resonated with leadership too, because they were starting to shift to more of a servant leadership mentality where it’s putting the right tools in our colleague’s hands to make them the most successful. This went hand in glove with that. We started thinking, all right, if we’re really going to transform the way that we’re communicating, we can’t just go with that, what we’ve done before.

We needed to reshape our thinking and pivot a little bit. Like Adam said, really get creative with it. We’ve been using this analogy that helped firm this up too, in our own minds of the way that we had been doing it before, it was almost like we were … The intranet experience was like a stock room. There’s a lot of really great stuff in there. I mean, there’s lots of information, there’s good stuff. It’s not always necessarily the freshest, but it’s there and we need to leverage it and we can’t get rid of that. But what we’re building here is the front of the store retail experience where we’re pulling out the freshest stock, we’re putting the stuff that our colleagues are interested or need to see right up front.

We’re creating new signage, we’re organizing it so that they can customize their experience and walk down the aisle that they’d like to walk down, to easily find what they need. It’s new signage, it’s a new way of organizing things, but that intranet, all of the stuff that’s back there is still there. It’s just that we’re optimizing the experience. We started looking at that, like Adam said, the user experience, kind of the retail walk in the front door, how can we make this super consumable and keep it fresh?

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I love one of the things that I remember us talking about is you had mentioned, this start is more of a functional, we need to revamp the intranet. But then after diving into it, you said, why do we need to revamp the intranet? It’s not just about doing something from a functional perspective, but we need to actually serve our colleagues with what they need. How did all of that shift in thinking change your entire process? I know you mentioned it completely changed the lens of what you needed out of a platform, but it’s not just a functional thing. It’s actual serving the needs of individuals in solving actual business case function. How did that shift your process as well?

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, I don’t know, Adam, if you had any thoughts on this, but I’ll start just from the standpoint of we’re starting with a communications platform. I think that when we made that decision, that that was where we were going to start. I think our objectives became a lot clearer because we’re doing two things we’re creating that user experience, but we’re also making things a lot more efficient on the backend for our communications teams. That changes our entire process. That’s, I guess one way of answering the question, the other, in terms of our process for getting this through and approved and done and out of the gate, I think it actually really shortened our timeline when we decided that this was the approach we were going to take, because looking at the entire digital workplace environment and the entire solution is daunting.

I mean there’s a lot to consider. There’s a lot of tools that are a part of the experience. We decided, you know what, we need to start somewhere. We need to start with what we’ve determined to be most important for our colleagues, which is getting the right information to the right people at the right time. In the midst of all this change this is so critical to get it right. Let’s start here. Then there’s more to look at again, the stock room and the other tools and things that integrate. But I think that approach really started to crystallize for us.

Adam Quinn:

Yeah, no, definitely Laura. I feel on that front too, it was interesting when we were putting together our criteria I remember that we went through an exercise too, where we mapped our organizational, what’s the word I’m looking for? Our …

Laura Stewart:

Our organizational health index survey,

Adam Quinn:

Not the health index survey, no accountability, inclusion, collaboration-

Laura Stewart:

Our shared values.

Adam Quinn:

Our shared values. Thank you. We mapped those to the criteria that we had. Every piece of criteria that we had was mapped to one of those values. I think that that helped shift it as leadership changed. Then it also helped shape the scope. We know that there’s still the stockroom is there, it’s messy in parts. It needs to be cleaned up at some point in time, that’s going to be part of our overall roadmap for digital workplace strategy at Tech Data. This is going to be our front door and the other tools that we have in place are hopefully going to continue to be enhanced by this and work in tandem as we evolve to our future workplace for our employees.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, that’s great. I know that it took us awhile to get through, but we were successful on this journey. Thinking about everyone who’s joining us here today, what are some of the things that as they’re going through this journey, while it seems like it’s all rainbows all the time. There are going to be some challenges and hurdles that you have to get across to get something like this across the finish line. What are some of the things that you identified in your process that you can call out in advance, so others can think about as you’re going through this process, what should you be aware of and what can you get ahead of to help you get something like this across the finish line?

Laura Stewart:

One of the first things that comes to mind for me is that way back when we went through a pilot that Adam spoke about in the US, and it was really just moving from SharePoint on prem to SharePoint online, and it was our intranet. We had our email over here and we had our intranet and those were the two things that we were dealing with. But I think we were thinking about the solution first, the technology first versus thinking about the problem we were trying to solve for. Again, putting the user experience in front.

Now, I think Adam early on, you were saying, hold on, we got to think about the user experience, but either way, whether or not that’s really the approach that we took I do remember you saying that. But I think as a whole, the team that was responsible for that, I think we were really quick again, to be thinking about the solution before the problem we were trying to solve. I think it’s just an easy trap to fall into. I think that it’s important to just take a step back and think, okay, what are we trying to solve for? Who are we serving? Then look at exploring all of the solutions that can solve for that rather than the other way around.

Adam Quinn:

Putting the employee at the center was the game changer for us when we shifted that. That helped explain things even better because everybody at the company, whether you’re talking to our senior leaders, trying to convince them that this is a valid project or end users, consumers of the information who are getting bombarded with hundreds of emails every day. They all know what that experience is. I think for a lot of organizations, particularly large organizations that move very quickly, it’s hard to get an inward facing project that is going to help the internal teams be more efficient and more productive together because everything’s all focused on generating money and making outward facing things so often anyways that I found. That was a hard hurdle to overcome.

I think that that was part of it is that over time, as we tried to do it, one, our scope was different, but there was too many other important things going on in the external, no, this isn’t the right time for that. We had three chances, and the third chance we finally got it right. I think the cross-functional collaboration where we determined communications was the driver. Your needs were first, but then there were also other needs to consider HR, for example, and the need for translation capabilities here within our communications. That was one of the big drivers for their aspect. Then IT, from a supportability perspective, a deployment perspective and then also working with other parts of the organization.

Our legal and our procurement teams, our IT security teams, we have certain data processing agreements that we need to make sure that we can follow. If certain companies can’t meet that, we’re not able to work with them. Vetting that out upfront was also very helpful and just making sure that, hey, is there any red flags that we need to be aware of in advance or are we all good? Then that’s ultimately what helped us to drive to start building upon a modern workplace ecosystem.

Laura Stewart:

I think when you’re thinking about what’s important to your leadership, typically things like cross geography or cross organizational collaboration is important to most leaders I think. At Tech data, it’s one of our shared values. Clearly as Adam said, we were looking at our shared values because that is the center foundation of our organization. We knew that if we were linking our solution back to our shared values and our business objectives, that that was going to give us that voice that we needed to get this pushed through. That was a big one, that collaboration piece was huge. It’s important to do that.

Then the other thing is and I wouldn’t call it a hurdle, but it could have been if we didn’t have the data to back up what we were asking for. We had pulled some of the results from those surveys that I talked about, but also the communications audit that we did, where we were really listening and shaping our solution around what we were hearing from our colleagues, since we had determined that we were taking that approach of being very colleague centric. All that really resonated with our leadership.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One thing I think can be easier said than done. When you mentioned that Laura is, it’s not just, cross-functional when you’re thinking about the business case, but it’s to your point cross geography. When you’re thinking about every colleague and what they need, how did you work to ensure it wasn’t just about your employees and your Florida headquarters or just the US but it’s truly about the entirety of Tech Data across the globe. I know in your implementation, you’re really thinking heavily about focusing on Benelux and how do we get them onboard. Talk a little bit about that cross geography approach and how you were able to tie that in.

Laura Stewart:

I think Adam could speak to the IT piece, but from a communications perspective we have a really great cross geographic team of kind of a communications network of global communications leads from each of our three regions. That really helps because I think we have a lot of trust in cross-collaboration, we have a global communications and brand council that meets on a monthly basis. We are on again, regular discussions with them. When this project started to build momentum, especially in the beginning too, we would keep in touch with things like the communications audit or progress that we were making along the way, and trying to reshape this business case. But once we started to really gain momentum, that’s when we really did the more concentrated outreach to say, okay, here’s where we are with the project. We would love as many of you as possible to be involved in it.

There was a ton of enthusiasm, obviously because it’s a great platform and it’s going to make our lives as communicators a lot easier too. A lot of enthusiasm and immediate willingness to collaborate together. That’s really been the easiest part of this process, I think, is to get that collaboration across the geographies. That’s been the case with human resources too. We’ve got a great team that has been involved across the three geographies and their feedback and partnership has been really key, but I think Adam could probably speak to the ITPs in terms of across the geos.

Adam Quinn:

I mean, overall on this project, we’ve had a pretty small IT team involved. I’ve helped to get engagement from our respective architecture security teams. But I mean, on the whole, it’s been a pretty small group of us but we are a pretty big functional group, but I mean, SocialChorus is doing a lot of the help from an integration perspective and it’s not a very heavy lift for IT. That’s another reason why, because we have, I think over a hundred IT projects in flight this year and our resources are very strapped. Finding something that was easy to implement was also critical. I feel from a growth perspective we wanted to meet the end user where they are and have really a personalized approach. Audience targeting is key. When we first started talking about it, we needed to solve for this on the global scale. We needed something that could touch all of our employees around the world more than just sending an email message or a newsletter.

Then from there we see it almost as a tiered approach where you’ve got your regional needs, you’ve got your country level needs. Then you’ve also got your departmental and team needs. As we looked at it, our main goal was at first global, but now we’re looking down and using our Benelux, which is the Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg area of our business as a pilot from a country level where they’re gonna have their own country level channel and push things out there. Then the end users from Benelux will see that content along with the global content and then also a select area of different channels that we are going to be featuring. There’s going to be what an IT channel at diversity, equity and inclusion channel, a furry pets channel but different things. Then the end user is genuinely getting the communications they need is derived from Corp com the communications that are reasonably applicable to them, and then the communications that they want for the areas of interest that they share.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I think you both did a great job thinking about that cross geography. It’s not just what we need to push out, but there is a ton of important business, critical information across the world. We need to make sure we’re enabling anyone who has that information to be able to deliver it to their specific group of colleagues. I think that was a key thing. One of the things that you mentioned, Adam was around, there’s emails, there’s newsletters, there’s a lot of other tools in the ecosystem, and this is something that oftentimes can come up as a challenge or something in the processes. Where did you envision SocialChorus fitting within your tech stack? As far as I know you have a number of other tools, some of which you are planning to phase out with SocialChorus, but how does this fit in and how do you define to leadership what the ecosystem looks like with SocialChorus?

Laura Stewart:

From a communications perspective, I’ll jump in and then Adam, maybe you can look at the broader scope of all of our tools, but we really wanted to simplify the way that we’re reaching our colleagues. There’s, you mentioned different newsletters and really when we look across the geographies, there’s much more than just the two global newsletters that we send as a global team. Our primary channel for communications has been email. We’ve been driving all of our updates and information through email, but then we’ve got this other place to go. That’s just been not widely used, but the intranet, which was not optimized globally. Then by the way, trickling in are things like Microsoft teams and Skype, all sorts of different things where people can get their information.

What we really wanted to do is create that digital front door where our colleagues have one place to go, one source not necessarily one place to go. Because I know that they can consume this information either on their mobile phone or desktop, and we can certainly meet them where they are, but we wanted to streamline the source. Again, The Current of fresh flow of information. Yes, in doing so from a communications perspective, we do plan to phase out some of our other tools that we use for newsletters and go from that more biweekly, heavy build approach where we’re putting a ton of information in a newsletter that colleagues have to wait for.

We want it to be a lot more dynamic, real time or posting it as it happens. Then that newsletter concept is really more of a hey in case you missed it, that leads them right back to The Current. In fact, our previous newsletter was called The Wire. It kind of works with The Current because the wire you can connect to the current anyway. Still playing with that more to come, but it’s really all about simplifying and not only for again, the end user, but also for our communications colleagues that previously were posting two, three, four different places in order to get this information to our colleagues. Now they can do it in one place and then meet our colleagues where they are through the platform.

Adam Quinn:

Well, I think it’s important to point out I don’t think that we’ve said it on the call, but we are mid implementation right now. I saw a couple of questions coming through the chat, but we are not yet live. We are going live next month. We are going live with a small pilot in another week or so. This is going to be evolving to that point, how the users adopt it, how we intersect it with our intranets and other environments. Workday is another component because that’s our HRIS and we have other areas that, that links out to. It really is going to be our first place to cohesively put together not only the communications, but access points to these other tools at a global scale that our global community uses.

As well as then narrowing down the same way I think in the future, as it evolves, we’ll go a little bit more reasonable, a little bit more local. That myself being an American employee, maybe see links to my benefits that aren’t applicable to my colleagues over in Germany and they see what’s relevant to them. I think that it’s going to continue to evolve. I feel like over the course of time, it’s going to shift how we use the other tools and probably make a couple of them redundant.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

When you mentioned Laura, it’s that front door, but it’s also reaching them where it’s convenient for them. I did see a message in the chat coming around when you’re thinking about those end points or how you’re going to reach employees where it’s easiest for them. How are you going to reach say your non-connected employees? That’s in the question we got in the chat, but what are the different ways that you’re thinking of the end points that different groups of employees will need to be able to be reached on?

Laura Stewart:

We do have a challenge there with our logistics center colleagues, many of whom don’t have a mobile phone on them even, or a desktop to work from. We’ve talked about a few different things. One of them is to create a channel for leadership in those logistics centers so that they can be plugged in, but also collaborate and use that as a way to then share information almost like their own newsletter in a way, but it’s more real time. Again, we’re not doing another newsletter or sending it to their email inbox. They can plug in, get the information they need and then share it.

Another thing that we will explore is digital signage because our colleagues in our logistics centers do rely on digital signage for their source of information. There’s different ways that we’ll try and get creative, but those are two things that come to mind upfront. Again, as Adam said, we haven’t really launched yet, and this is definitely going to be a journey, but I definitely feel that there’s a ton of opportunity and a lot of low-hanging fruit, quite frankly, of things that will make our communications a lot more effective across the globe.

Adam Quinn:

I think the mobility factor is another key area like you mentioned, Laura, especially with the logistics. I know that when they’re on the job, a lot of times they have to check in their phones. They can’t bring them back there with them, but after that, there’s the opportunity to access it through the app and have those communications common. They don’t really use that today. I say that corporate wide, we’re pretty green as far as using mobile devices. Like we’re pretty desktop oriented folks. Again, I see this as an opportunity to help shift the culture a bit in more of a modern, consumer grade experience for these communications.

Laura Stewart:

I think mostly because what we’ve used to date hasn’t necessarily been optimized for the mobile experience. But yes, we are hoping ideally as we look ahead, I think a great success would be to see a lot of adoption with the mobile app, because that way it’s right in colleague’s hands and not everyone’s again. But I think it’ll start to reshape the way that we’re connecting.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

I know as we’re on this journey, you both have very lofty and ambitious goals for how, The Current is going to transform the organization, not just from a communications perspective, but the overall employee experience. What does that vision for success look like if you were to say this was our business case, and this is it being solved, what does that vision for success truly look like with The Current?

Laura Stewart:

So many things. I think first and foremost, shaping a solution that is really colleague centric and seeing a high level of engagement is going to be really gratifying. Right now we do have some metrics to know how we’re reaching our colleagues. It varies depending on the publication between mid fifties and 65%, which is actually not bad. It’s close to benchmark, but when you hit a 65% open rate, you know that you’re still missing 35% of your organization. I think even if we saw an up take of engagement by 5% in the first six months, that’s a lot of colleagues that we’re reaching. I think that would feel like a lot of progress toward really moving the needle and driving our engagement. But also I think, Adam, just on the softer side of that I think Adam touched on this a little bit, but that cultural change of driving an environment where there’s a lot more two way dialogue going on, where we’re able to get a more human and real conversation going.

It’s not so much of this manufactured communications that come from corporate and they’re pushed at you, but it’s more of a real time consumption of information, but also a dialogue. So our colleagues can really feel like they’ve got a voice and can get involved, and that’s what SocialChorus I think offers us. I think we’ll see, hopefully, in the near not so distant future that we get that dialogue going and that we can start to change the conversation a little bit. So it’s not so much top down as it is bottom up or even side to side that we’re changing that culture. That will be a big, I think, success if we can reach that within the first six months.

Adam Quinn:

I completely agree, Laura, I was going to comment also on that, the two way dialogue it’s been so long that it’s just been one way communications, and we do have pockets of two way, but not at the corporate or at the global level. There isn’t really that level of engagement. That’s going to be a new shift for the organization, both from an end-user perspective, but also for the communications teams that we pointed out that, hey, you know what people are going to be giving you ideas. People are going to be pushing the envelope and challenging us. When that finally comes into a dynamic interplay of side to side, you see almost in a circle going back and forth, that’s when I think that it’s really going to be successful and that it’s going to be the driver for a lot of the things that we decide as an organization to do.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

One of the things that I think is interesting too, about your approach is you’ve been talking about colleagues centric. It’s not just top down, but even shifting how top-down communications work. Previous leadership communications were one way and we’re looking to make it more authentic and connect your colleagues to the leaders of the organization. How are you going to be doing that shift as well?

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely, I think that’s one of the more exciting parts of the platform is that we have some leaders that are really great at engaging with colleagues. Right now there’s different ways that we’re doing that live stream events, for example, or smaller round tables, but this is such a fantastic channel for them to use it as a way to share their own authentic voice and connect and comment. We do have a colleague recognition tool that we use, but I think connecting the two so that we can bring out the best in our colleague recognition as well, and give our leaders an opportunity to, again, just be very authentic and human and real. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to do that. We’re tossing ideas around, we haven’t necessarily landed on exactly how we’re going to move forward with that.

But I think a channel for our CEO or even our CEO staff is something that we’ve talked about so that they can share success stories. Again, I talked about the fact that we’re in the midst of transformation. We have a lot of awesome stories to share throughout our organization about how we’re transforming and we’ve been sharing those stories, but to have a leader talk about that from their own voice and share that and get into a two-way dialogue about that and provide some recognition to those colleagues from their own. Again, themselves is really powerful. We’re hoping to leverage that and do it in a more real-time format, through the platform.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

We did have a question that came into, and I think this is a future vision of success. Adam, I’m going to have you speak to this when you’re thinking about the experience of going just from the quote, unquote revamped, storefront to a user coming in and having that experience to do things like complete transactions, or make sure that they’re able to complete what they need from a work perspective. How do you envision this environment really all tying together?

Adam Quinn:

It’s a good question. I feel to be successful, we need to point the employees to where they need to have access points to. I feel we’re just starting this journey and there’s certain ways that you can go. Integration has been one component. When we were looking at solutions, how deep do you go with that? Right now we’re going to be using for example, the Benelux channel, we’re planning on having their newsfeed present on the homepage of their intranet site, which is much better use than the US one I should say, and as part of their culture.

We don’t want to break that. We want to keep that consistency going, but also still enable them from SocialChorus to be able to jump out to those points elsewhere, that they need to be able to do their jobs. I think again, it’s going to be evolved and it’s also going to evolve with, I think as our users start getting used to it and providing feedback for how things can get better. It’s not going to be exactly perfect from day one. We would probably never will be, but we will iteratively try to make the improvement better and better until finally you do get that cohesiveness of tools working together and really [inaudible 00:40:01] energizing the employee experience.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I think you both made two points. It’s about the user experience and having them have that integrated approach, but also Laura for your team, how do we serve everyone where they need? How are you able as a communicator to be able to publish to all these different channels, to ensure that they’re getting the local news, but what does that governance look like on your end when you’re thinking about that as well?

Laura Stewart:

We’re working through that right now, as we’re building out our governance structure, but what’s really nice about SocialChorus is that we can decentralize our communications more than we’ve been able to do before. We will have some channels that are not open necessarily to a user generated content, like completely open that we’ll be screening for user generated content. We’re working out which channels are being led by which communications lead and who’s going to be managing that content. But we will also have some channels and probably smaller channels and some of the more creative ones like the furry friends, and we have a hashtag Tech Data life where that’ll be open for colleagues to contribute a wellbeing channel, wellbeing matters where our colleagues can talk about things related to wellbeing.

Those kinds of channels where they will not be governed as heavily because we want to drive that colleague engagement. But on the backend, there will be many channels that are managed by different communications leads. I think the platform will allow us to all leverage it in a much more efficient way, and cross-pollinate some of these communications, but be able to post them in one place and share them simultaneously rather than have to go through again, the arduous process of not only posting in many different places, but then also having … The way we operate today is a bit more manual and the way we even coordinate and make sure that we’re not on top of each other with communications and de-conflict.

I mean, sometimes we’re doing that over email still where we’re de-conflicting, let’s make sure we’re not and using an Excel calendar to make sure that we’re not overlapping communications and overwhelming our colleagues. The more sophisticated content management with SocialChorus is going to be really powerful for us. It will really help us, I think, streamline our governance.

Adam Quinn:

I think just to add to that Laura, the analytics behind it is going to be key as well, because today we have some. But really being able to drive down into what level of engagement, how much engagement around what types, videos from the president of the Americas, right now it goes out through email, you can’t connect. I think that that’s going to be a driver too, for how this evolves over time.

Laura Stewart:

Absolutely and looking across campaigns too. That’s another thing that we’ve been challenged by up until now is that when we are talking about a transformation story, a success story, and we’re posting it to the Hub and then we’re posting it in a newsletter, and then we’re talking about it in an email and then maybe we post it to Yammer. At least from an internal standpoint, we right now are not looking across the board at how that story resonated and how are we reaching our colleagues. That’s going to be really powerful to be able to create, I think if I’ve got my nomenclature right, we’ll be calling that a campaign, but either or an initiative there’ll be tagging it so that we can look at the analytics and see how we’re doing with certain topics and campaigns. That I think will then drive our strategy and we’ll be able to really be thoughtful about how we are leveraging the platform and how we’re reaching our colleagues.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes, and it’s an ever evolving strategy, right? You’re getting the analytics and consistently shifting how you’re doing things based on what initiatives are being engaged with. How do employees like to engage to that content, et cetera. I think you guys are taking a great approach to how we’re going to constantly evolve with the analytics and metrics that you have.

Laura Stewart:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:44:14].

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Go ahead Laura.

Laura Stewart:

I was just going to say, we’re thinking through too the channels that we’ll be promoting or that we’ll have open immediately, and then those that colleagues will opt into or subscribe to, because I think there’s a little bit of strategy behind that too. Putting it all out there versus saying, hey, when you take an active role in subscribing, then you’re going to be actively engaged in that content. Thinking through that strategy as well.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes. I know that strategy is key, and we had a question around the implementation process. I know we have a few minutes left, but Laura, Adam, if you want to speak to the strategic process of that implementation. I know you’ve been partnering with our strategic advisory team, but how has the strategy really shifted what you’re doing with the platform as well?

Laura Stewart:

We are in the process of building and completing our strategy and also our plans to announce this to the organization. That’s still taking shape, but the team has been really fantastic and no one asked me to make that plug by the way for SocialChorus, but all along the way, they’ve really guided us in making sure that we are leveraging the platform to meet our objectives. Again, it’s still taking shape, but I feel confident that this platform will truly allow us to transform our communications in the way that we’re reaching our colleagues and in a much more efficient way. More to come on that, but it’s been really successful so far and hopefully we’ll be able to check back in, in a month or so, and let everyone know that it was a great launch. As Adam said, it’s still a journey that we’re going to be on for the foreseeable future, but feel really good about where we are right now.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

For everyone on this journey, apologies, Adam I just want to say with the couple minutes we have left, what is the one piece of advice that you would give to them to get them through this journey, just like you did and Adam we’ll start with you there?

Adam Quinn:

Be creative, try to be creative with your approach and adapt because the message isn’t going to resonate with everyone the same way. I feel that was part of our challenge too, is getting everyone on the same page. The leads of communications had a different vision than our leaders in IT than our leaders in marketing, depending on who we were engaging at different points in time. It took us a while to shift the story until it finally caught on. Again, stick with it, but during the process, be creative and adaptive as you go on the path.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Great advice.

Laura Stewart:

I think mine would be to not underestimate the power of relationships that you’ve built across the organization. Again, across departments, functions, geographies, those partnerships were a game changer for us and they can really make or break a project. Not only the inputs that you get and the perspectives that you get across those functions and geographies, but oftentimes you’ll be a louder voice when you show that you’ve taken all those different perspectives into account and you go forward with the plan together as a cross functional and cross geographic unit.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

Yes and you accomplish that very well Adam and Laura working together, and I had the wonderful pleasure of working with you both through this. I think you did an amazing job of IT and comms working in tandem. I think you are the exact example of how everyone should function through this. I’m really looking forward to seeing everything that you do with the platform, how you continue on this journey and ultimately make sure that we’re able to cross off all those boxes that we had originally had on that business case. Thank you both for your partnership and for sharing it with everyone today. We really appreciate all of the insights that you have for everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Thanks Katelyn, it’s been a pleasure.

Laura Stewart:

It has. Thank you, Katelyn.

Katelyn Turtletaub:

All right. Enjoy the rest of it too and everyone.

Laura Stewart:

Thanks everyone.

Adam Quinn:

Bye.

Laura Stewart:

Bye.

 

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