Why Intel is investing in Social Computing

In my post I shared our results of extensive exploration to determine if there is value in adding professional networking for employee use. The exploratory results moved us forward to creating a modular and integrated social framework to consolidate current "islands" of blogs, forums and wikis and add new capabilities such as the people connection that professional networking brings.  We are 1.5 weeks away from launching the first phase of bringing robust social tools in-house to augment and improve the way our employees connect and collaborate today.  I get asked a lot about "Why" we are doing this and the value we believe we will bring to Intel.  I wanted to share with you the reasons.

  • Employees Want to Put a Face to a Name: We are a large (~85k employee) globally dispersed workforce.  Global teams of people work together, but in many cases wouldn't recognize a team member if they passed them on the street.
  • Too much time is lost to find people & information to do your job:  The average Intel employee dumps one day a week trying to find people with the experience & expertise plus the relevant information to do their job. We have calculated some of the $$ impact due to lost productivity & opportunity.  Let me just say that it is motivating us to take action.
  • Getting work done effectively in globally dispersed teams is challenging: There is usually a window of 2 hours a day that team members can communicate real-time with each other.  Work in progress collaboration is often done in email, passing back and forth edited presentation decks and crossing discussion wires. Task hand-offs from one team leaving work and another entering are very rough.
  • New hires want to have a way to integrate into Intel faster: This isn't a generational thing.  Think back to your first day at your company.  How did you learn about the company?  How did you put a name to a face or discover who you needed to connect with?  Did you feel isolated and lost?  I bet you answered yes to most or all.  It's a fact that if you can improve the integration experience you will get faster engagement, happier workers and quicker delivery of solid results.
  • Restructuring and employee redeployment impacts Organizational Health: The last two years Intel has spent restructuring and reducing our workforce. With the current economic conditions, now all companies are faced with and embarking upon the same venture.  This leaves employees feeling disconnected, isolated and disengaged.  We are finding value in providing opportunities for Intel to feel small, give employees a voice and build a sense of community.
  • We reinvent the wheel over and over again: Need I say more?  Stovepipes and silos breed redundancy.
  • We learn more via on the job training, then we do in a classroom:  Providing employees opportunities to share their knowledge and their expertise allows other employees to organically discover information to help them do their jobs.  Your organization becomes a learning organization with "wisdom of crowds" at its core.
  • We need to deliver radical innovation in a mature company:  It is challenging for mature companies, like Intel, to find a parallel innovation vein to the current incremental innovation. However, it is essential in order to power future growth.  In Judy Estrin's book "Closing the Innovation Gap:  Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy", she states the five core values of innovation are questioning, risk taking, openness, patience and trust. Intel has these values at our core but organizational stovepipes get in the way of ideas.  Social tools can unleash those ideas.
  • When the mature workforce starts to retire, they carry knowledge out the door:  Have you thought about the bottom line impact that the large amount of retiring baby boomers will have on your company? Or better yet, our economic future?  Tacit knowledge is imperative to transfer knowledge.  To date, there aren't any solid tools to effectively extract the tacit knowledge.  Social tools show real promise. See .

I'll keep you posted as we robustly launch and capture the success stories.  We believe these tools have the potential to be transformational.  This isn't our mother or father's information workplace any longer.