Knowledge Management and Mobile Collaboration with Enterprise Social Network

Today’s post features Dennis Story, CFO, Manhattan Associates

Reaping Business Rewards from Social Networking

manhattanassociates_headshot_dennis_storyManhattan Associates provides software and professional services that help clients ranging from American Eagle Outfitters to Walmart optimize their all-important supply chains. The company’s expertise has a major impact on its customers’ efficiency and bottom lines—and now it’s using Yammer to do the same for its own organization.

“We help companies with distribution complexity manage everything from their warehouses to the trucks that ship inventory. That’s where we shine: taking complexity and simplifying it,” explains Chief Financial Officer Dennis Story. “That’s what I love about Yammer: it does the same for us.”

All international enterprises are complex organisms, but Manahattan Associates is more complex than many. Not only does it have offices in nine countries, roughly 60 percent of its 2,200 employees are highly mobile, spending most of their time at clients’ premises. “We want our software engineers to have good tools when they’re at a customer’s site and need answers quickly,” Story says. “They don’t have the time to search for a file or a document.”

“Technology wasn’t solving our problems,” he continues. “The enterprise software we were using was built for a static workforce, and our communications environment was just perpetuating what we did in everyday life, which was work in silos. What we needed was better communication and global knowledge management. We were looking for collaboration not only across the globe, but across divisions. As a company, we knew we’d be stronger if R&D and our professional services organization were tightly linked.”

In late 2011, Manhattan Associates decided to see if social networking could enhance its IT infrastructure and drive productivity. “I’d heard a lot about Yammer, and a CFO is always a sucker for a low-cost alternative, so I signed up for the freemium version,” Story says. “Within 30 days, 90 percent of our employees had set up profiles and were using it. I call it ‘the revolution to evolution: Yammer took off in such a viral way, my take-away is that there was a lot of pent-up demand to collaborate.”

Staying Connected Anytime, Anywhere

Yammer is now the glue that connects not only Manhattan Associates’ globally dispersed offices, but its highly mobile workforce. “We’re nomadic,” Story says. “We go where the customers are, where the money is. Yammer feeds our mobility footprint. It doesn’t encumber us; it allows us to be free.”

“I was out on the road forty weeks last year,” says Senior Consultant Zach Zalowitz. “Sometimes it’s hard traveling, since there’s not always someone available to give you the assistance you need to do your job well. With Yammer, though, everyone I need to communicate with is just a click away. Anywhere, anytime connectivity makes the world a smaller place.”

Connecting on Yammer isn’t just easier, it’s deeper. Says Story, “What I love about Yammer is there’s no spam. It’s rich internal communication that pulls people out of their silos. Plus, it’s persistent and searchable. The ability to bookmark something that looks interesting and come back later really helps me be more efficient.”

For Ron Carolino, Principal Business Analyst, increased efficiency is also the name of the game. “We get the same questions over and over in my department, and when they came in through email, we’d have to answer them each time,” he says. “Within weeks of implementing Yammer, that was eliminated. That saves us a huge amount of time, so we can focus on documentation and design—things really add value to the product and improve clients’ experiences.”

As Manhattan Associates has discovered, Yammer’s knowledge-management capabilities lead to a host of benefits, including a better bottom line. “By capturing and sharing the solutions our reps come up with to address clients’ challenges, we’re far more efficient,” Story says. “That means more billable than non-billable hours. Yammer increases margin and drives profit. That’s the Holy Grail for any company: effectively harnessing knowledge in a really cost-efficient manner.”

“Smart companies figure out how to provide a medium to employees so that the folks who have tribal knowledge share it with others who are facing complex problems,” he adds. “Yammer has done that for us. There’s nothing more powerful than a workforce that self selects the best ideas so they reach the top. Yammer has brought our network to life. It’s become part of our company’s DNA.”

The Results

  • Nearly universal adoption. Employees don’t just use Yammer, they embrace it. In the first month, 90 percent signed up; today 98 percent of the workforce is on board.
  • An end to silos. Yammer transcends organizational and geographical boundaries, so R&D knows what’s going on with professional services, and workers in the Atlanta HQ are attuned to the Tokyo and Bangalore offices.
  • An empowered mobile workforce. Half of the company’s staff is mobile, and with Yammer, they can tap into the corporate network to collaborate and get the answers they need.
  • Effective knowledge management. Questions are answered quickly and solutions shared so they can be replicated.
  • A better bottom line. By bringing social functionality to Manhattan Associates’ IT infrastructure, Yammer drives productivity—which increases everything from customer satisfaction to billable hours.

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