Networking to save the planet

Today’s post features Andy Ridley, CEO, Earth Hour

Networking to Save the Planet

earthhour_headshot_andy_ridley1On March 31, 2012, hundreds of millions of people around the world switched off their lights for Earth Hour, the largest environmental event in history. Earth Hour began five years ago as a local Sydney event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia. Since then, the annual action has expanded its reach through the power of social networking—including the Yammer network that has become the backbone of Earth Hour’s operations.

“Earth Hour is an endeavor to bring our world together to show what’s possible to protect the planet,” says Global CEO Andy Ridley. “It’s a symbolic hour during which anybody of any age or nation can turn off the lights to show that he or she cares about the one thing we all share: the planet where we live.”

This year’s Earth Hour was remarkable in many respects. For starters, nearly 7,000 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories switched off their lights to express concern over climate change. It was also the first time the organization’s Yammer network was used to facilitate events leading up to, during, and after Earth Hour. “Yammer is a critical part of our effort to build a global community,” Ridley says. “Since we’ve grown from a local event to a global movement, connecting and organizing has become harder. But we didn’t want to become a massive, complicated, bureaucratic organization.”

The Yammer Solution

“Social networks are a powerful way to unite people from different cultures who speak different languages and use different IT resources—and now, Earth Hour is able to use a social network as the platform for our operations,” says Sid Das, CIO. “Yammer lets us engage and identify our most passionate users and most successful initiatives. It is Earth Hour’s secret weapon for coordinating our entire organization.”

“Yammer has already revolutionized how we approach organizing,” Ridley says. “Our network lets our core team of eight connect and work with hundreds of millions of people all over the planet. If you’re after efficiency, that’s efficient.”

Yammer is also a self-populating knowledge base. “We rely on volunteers, and there’s a lot of turnover, so the same questions come up,” Ridley explains. “With Yammer, we no longer have to keep answering them, which obviously saves us a lot of time. The network also gives members the chance to be proactive, since questions on Yammer often turn into conversations about how you might resolve a problem or jump on an opportunity.”

“The people who head up our regional and country teams know there’s one place to go to search for something, and that’s Yammer,” Das says. “Yammer has become the center for every file we have right now. It accepts pretty much every file format under the sun, which is critical for a diverse network like ours.”

Earth Hour staff finds Yammer’s mobile app useful all the time, especially during the main event. “The hour starts in New Zealand and ends in Hawaii,” Das says. “Thanks to Yammer, this year we were able to capture the event in a dynamic way for the first time.” Most participants were not in front of their computers, so they used their mobile devices to upload content in real time, which allowed staff to share videos with news outlets just an hour or two after the event happened in each time zone.

The Results

  • A truly global network. Yammer lets Earth Hour unite thousands of organizers around the world in real time, often in their native languages.
  • Effective collaboration. Organizers use the network to share ideas and files with campaign materials such as advertisements and videos.
  • Powerful crowdsourcing. Local solutions and successes are shared so they can be replicated around the globe.
  • Significant time savings. Yammer is a self-populating knowledge base, so the organization’s small staff doesn’t have to answer the same questions.

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