Connecting employees across departments, countries and cultures is what Yammer is all about, and these needs are really pronounced across large, multinational retail environments. We are thrilled to welcome IKEA to the Yammer family, as the iconic retailer is launching Yammer to help its collaborative workforce connect better online. I sat down with Linda Tinnert, the Intranet Manager at IKEA, and this is what we talked about:
Maria Ogneva: Linda, thank you for joining us! Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do at IKEA.
Linda Tinnert: I work in group staff corporate communication at IKEA Services AB; I’m responsible for internal digital channels. I’ve been with IKEA and worked with internal communications for about 14 years and have been involved in IKEA’s internal digital channels efforts for the past 8-9 years.
MO: How has your internal communication evolved?
LT: We have had an intranet since 1997; our intranet started out as a pretty traditional one, mostly used for information delivery and one-way conversations. In 2000/2001 we introduced our own publishing platform that facilitated discussion forums. Four years ago, we moved to Microsoft SharePoint, introducing the ability to comment on news. But we could see that something was missing – people kept asking for better ways to collaborate and communicate. A lot happens when you meet face-to-face, and we wanted to extend that to the digital world. We have formal networks established at IKEA, and we also have a lot of informal networks that are really important. So we started to look into tools that could support and strengthen our already existing way of working and networking. After evaluating Enterprise Social Networks on the market, we decided on Yammer.
Yammer can work for us at IKEA, because we have a very collaborative culture. Our informal networks are strong, and “knowing people” is valued as part of career development.
MO: How did you find Yammer?
LT: I heard of Yammer at a conference – everybody was talking about it. This discovery came at a very opportune time, and I decided to sign up. At that time, I was looking to find a solution for our Internet Group’s needs. Spread across 25 countries, our Internet Group maintains all the public sites of IKEA.com. They had a discussion forum but weren’t able to share best practices or documents. They kept duplicating work and wasting a lot of time asking and answering the same questions. We introduced Yammer to this group as our pilot, and they found quite a bit of success with it. A naturally tech-savvy group, they really took to Yammer and were able to adopt it.
MO: Who uses Yammer at IKEA?
LT: We have piloted Yammer across three types of groups:
Type One: Professionals who work together through a matrix but are disconnected geographically – like our Internet Group. Because they have access to the same information, we discovered that a lot of team members were asking and answering the same questions over and over. Now they have more time to spend on their job, because they only have to answer the same question once, and Yammer makes the solution findable by others.
Type Two: Fast-paced, on-the-phones & computers type workplace. These IKEA professionals are in the same location yet still have a high need for connecting to others who are available and might “know the answer.” Although slower to adopt Yammer, potentially due to a less web-savvy background, the Contact Centre has realised benefits to being able to help each other to answer customers quickly and with the best solution possible. Contact Centre Representatives need to be plugged into the work of the entire company in order to service customers effectively.
Type Three: Where the Content is the Glue. The third type of group that we focused on during our pilot was one that contains many professionals, across many disciplines, who need to connect around a similar topic. For instance, we have a Yammer Group called “Digital Workplace,” and it is constantly on of our top groups.
We are currently preparing for a company-wide rollout of Yammer. As a global company, we need to think through how we work within the legalities and peculiarities of local countries.
MO: How do you plan to launch Yammer?
- Highly coordinated: We have defined some groups that will get extra coaching and support from our central team.
- Coached: We have prepared a team of internal communicators across all countries in which we have operations; they will provide a strong layer of coaching and support in the business.
MO: What kind of education programmes are you planning for the launch?
LT: Yammer is really easy to use, and we’ve already provided some basic principles around publishing. We are working on providing business context towards meeting our organisational goals.
MO: You’ve mentioned a key imperative for Yammer is to help people build better working relationships. That often carries with it cultural changes toward more openness. Can you talk about the ways in which Yammer has changed your culture thus far?
LT: We have a culture based on collaboration, and we aim to help each other and work together across functions and countries. I think we have a very hands-on culture – if you want something done, ask for help; if you have the solution, give help! Through this kind of culture you build a strong informal network that will help you to become efficient. A strong network is great for people who’ve been around for a while; however, an organisation with such strong ties can be intimidating to a newcomer.
I believe that Yammer will be a great platform for us here because we have a very collaborative culture. With Yammer, you immediately have access to a variety of people – and you can more easily build your network outside of your immediate circle of influence. We hope to be able to surface information easier and faster and take our way of building relationships to another level.
About Linda Tinnert: Linda has been working at IKEA since 1998, focusing on internal communications. Linda has been responsible for the global intranet since 2002, and responsible for all internal digital channels with the focus on communication information and knowledge sharing since 2012.