Cisco Systems on Web 2.0 for Employee Communication

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Maureen Kasper, Director of Corporate Communications for Cisco Systems, agrees that if communications professionals don’t become experts in social media, we will be obsolete.

As I’ve said previously, professional communicators failing to keep up with social media at least borders on malpractice.

She lives in the central coast of California, having moved south from Cisco’s San Jose office without telling anyone. This remote working has been made possible by social media and the real-life connections she made before the move. She says CEO John Chambers has been a communications champion.
Cisco Social Media Objectives: Encourage use of social media by giving access to the best tools, but protect both the corporation and individuals. They have done a major initiative on employee training.

Cisco has 20 officially sanctioned corporate blogs. Each is related to a corporate priority. Each unit/each employee looks to connect with the priorities relevant to their jobs.

She says the rules for social networking are the same as in the offline world, but just using the tools.

When commenting in a blog, be Transparent: State you are with Cisco, Use Cisco in your user name, use Cisco email, link to a Cisco website for reference (either your dept. page on cisco.com or blogs.cisco.com). Tone should be conversational, thoughtful, thank for perspective, “perhaps you might consider” other fact that have not been as well represented. No corporate speak.

Maureen says: “If you want people to behave differently, take away the tools that let people interact the old way.”

They are developing an internal alternative to MySpace as a souped-up corporate directory called the Cisco Employee Connection directory. It will list personal skills and interests, expertise and other user-editable fields.

For example, she says Cisco IT doesn’t support Macintosh, but 1,000 of their employees use Macs. So they’ve formed an online user group to solve each others’ problems since they can’t count on official IT support. That’s the value of the Social Graph within Cisco.

Cisco also has Ciscopedia as a collaborative reference document and an internal portal they call Communications Center of Excellence (CCoE) that is available to anyone in the company. This is about “scaling the message” to 65,000 employees, because the communications leaders can’t be everywhere.

CCoE Content

  • Communications challenges, solutions, success stories
    • TEchnologies, process, behavior
  • Discussions throughout
  • News blog, Project Update blog
  • Roundtable Discussion show
  • One-Minute video overviews
  • Technology details
    • Education to Vision to Provisioning

Cisco did their first Virtual Company Meeting on Aug. 23, 2007 using Telepresence. You feel like you are in the same room with counterparts around the world. Here’s a cool example:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcfNC_x0VvE]

For Cisco, bandwidth is no object, so they use video mail and lots of leadership video on their intranet.

They also have discussion forums, the use of which depends on how much people care. The corporate strategy things don’t get much discussion, but the question of whether the green initiative meant taking away people’s water bottles had tens of thousands of discussants.

This was a very interesting presentation. I think one of her key points, as she mentioned above, is that you may need to “burn the ships” on some of the old communications technologies in order to drive adoption of the new. Otherwise, people will just settle back into familiar ruts.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 14. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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