PricewaterhouseCoopers Social Business Case Study

Salvatore Reina, Knowledge Programme Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers

PricewaterhouseCoopers Social Business Case Study: Panelist Salvatore ReinaSalvatore Reina has been involved in leading PricewaterhouseCoopers’ social networking activities since Q1 of 2006, and he presented a very methodical and effective approach to adopting social networks. Although the epitome of conservatism, the firm has embraced social networking due to the latter’s compelling value proposition for global service firms with high value resources who generate more revenue when they can collaborate more effectively.

Read on for a case study Salvatore presented on my panel at the Social Networking Conference London 2009, Enterprise Social Networking for Innovation: Case Studies, Approaches and Tools.

Case Study

PricewaterhouseCoopers Social Business Case StudyHere are numerous approaches that PwC is taking with social networks:

  • Pilot with Confluence, a white label social network solution. PwC conducted the pilot for 18 months, experimenting with wikis, blogs, RSS and others, with global users. He pointed out that the cost was modest, and it enabled widespread experimentation with the tools
  • For a telecoms client, PwC created an “internal Facebook” social network, spending only 15,000£; this attracted significant attention from the client, which led to another engagement, as well as a request from PwC’s chairman for a private demo.
  • IBM Lotus Connections pilot for 5,000 users that cost over $900,000, focused on knowledge management. Connections interoperates well with the rest of the IBM software stack, a key benefit for knowledge management. Results are thus far inconclusive, but management is very pleased
  • The firm created a Facebook Group for 800 “joiners,” recent university hires. Through the group, they could leverage the platform with which they were already very familiar and share insights, challenges and ways to make their first experiences at the firm go more smoothly. The private group with connected to material “behind the firewall,” so it was very secure.
  • PwC is also experimenting with Yammer, an enterprise Twitter vendor. The forensics practice appreciates Yammer’s “stream” of relevant news from the practice’s consultants, 75% of whom are at clients; for the first time, the practice has a “stream” of consciousness, a “river of knowledge,” as he put it.

Getting Support for Social Network Initiatives

  • PwC, as a premier professional services firm, adds the more value (and generates the most revenue) by getting the right person in the right role at the right time. The firm’s ability to deliver on this has a dramatic impact on its competitiveness. Salvatore affirmed that social networks has shown their ability to add significantly to the firm’s competency in marshaling its resources.
  • Compared to the potential value of even incrementally improving utilization of human resources, social networks’ costs are modest.
  • Your social network pilots can lead to additional competencies that you can offer clients. This can offer a significant ROI scenario: although Salvatore couldn’t discuss specific figures, from my experience as an alum, I’ll hazard that the ROI was 5x to 10x expenditures, which doesn’t take into account the skills consultants developed that they will be able to offer other clients.
  • Salvatore’s description shows that there is an upgrade path in terms of investment in social networks. many of the white label products offer low cost pilots to enable firms to experiment with their platforms. Likewise, using consumer platforms where appropriate is a very modest cost; once you engage the enterprise solutions, however, be prepared to pay enterprise costs!
  • You will get buy-in faster if you understand how social networks can impact your firm’s core operations, as is PwC’s case.

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