BT is to roll out Facebook-style social networking services to its 100,000 employees, in a move that will allow staff to collaborate more effectively on projects whether they are in the office or working remotely.
The company, which reported £1m profits this month, said the system would lead to significant gains in productivity and help the organisation keep track of the skills of its workforce.
BT is an early adopter of Microsoft's business collaboration platform, SharePoint 2010. It is using the platform to build advanced social networking and collaboration tools, which will be rolled out across the organisation between now and the end of the year.
The project is part of a wider programme that will see BT replace between 30,000 and 40,000 Windows XP desktops with Windows 7 by the end of 2010. At the same time the company plans to upgrade from Office 2007 to Office 2010 in a move that it predicts will bring further productivity benefits.
Peter Scott, BT's chief technology officer for end-user technology, is responsible for providing these infrastructure services. BT is such a large organisation, he said, that even small improvements to BT's IT infrastructure can bring huge efficiency gains when multiplied across the whole organisation.
"We have challenges around our cost base, where we want to reduce overall how much it costs us to do things. We want to do things in a smarter way. We want the outcome to be better than before," he said. "A tool-set, like SharePoint, that allows us to underpin all of that, we see as a very powerful business enabler."
The company has developed two powerful social networking tools that it plans to roll out to staff over the coming months, as it upgrades its infrastructure from SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.
The first will offer each employee of BT a Facebook-like profile page. It promises to make it easier for BT staff to find the right experts within the company for the projects they are working on. They will be able to see at a glance what projects, and even what documents, other members of staff are working on.
"It brings some of the social networking elements into our business. People can expose much more information in real time. It is going to allow people to get plugged into other people and discover what other things are going on, and where the people are with the skills and experience that would help them," Scott said.
The second tool, known as DealPoint, will help BT staff to manage bids for contracts.
In this special programme of content from Computer Weekly, in association with Microsoft, we examine the tools, technologies and best practices to create a productive, collaborative modern workforce.
Sign-up to Computer Weekly to download a detailed case study of BT’s roll out of Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, including:
- BT’s plans to roll out of Windows 7
- How Office 2010 will allow BT staff to collaborate more effectively
- Why BT has dropped bespoke IT systems in favour of standardising on Microsoft software
- Links to 3 free Forrester reports on the business case for SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010
- Video: Microsoft explains the business benefits of its latest version of SharePoint, Office, Visio and Project 2010. Microsoft discusses its investment in its partner network and explains how businesses are using SharePoint to allow workers to collaborate introduce social networking. Early adopters of the technology have cut printing and courier travel costs, while one firm is using collaboration technology to help it meet financial compliance regulations.
Sign up here >>