RaganCisco: The Journey to Enterprise 2.0 with Len Devanna of EMC


Len Devanna, Director of Digital Strategy at EMC, gave a presentation at the Ragan Cisco Social Media Summit that hit a lot of responsive chords with me. It sounds like Len and I have faced a lot of the same challenges and come to many of the same conclusions.

Considering I presented immediately after him, I briefly worried he wouldn't leave me anything to talk about.

EMC has internal and external social media presences. EMC One is an internal collaboration platform that is the “seed” of everything. It has 16,000 active users and 10,000 casual users out of 44,000 employees.

“It is now how we work. We design products, we discuss strategy, we discuss competitors.” In the fall of last year it crashed for six hours “and we stopped working inside. It was more impactful than email.”

On that day they decided it was a business-critical platform.

EMC One has a employee profiles that allow it to be used as an “expertise locator” to find EMC employees with the skills needed for a project.

It also creates internal affinity, and making them feel more connected to one another and the brand, increasing retention.

Last year they launched an external network with 250,000 members, 80 percent of them customers, and it’s growing by 3,000 members per month. They use it to generate ideas for new products, let users download and test beta versions of products, embrace and encourage developers who work with EMC products and to provide support services.

EMC has about 500 employees on Twitter with a collective following of 90,000. They engage with customers real-time to improve the customer experience. They have 25 bloggers. None of these tasks are included in the employees’ job descriptions, they do it out of passion. Many of the bloggers are doing it at home on their own time. Len described it as a “very authentic, very passionate” presence.

They pre-brief their bloggers weeks before a launch to help get them on message and prepared. The 25 bloggers cover the launch from their own point of view and multiply the message in the marketplace.

“This is not an option,” Len said. The idea of blocking social media is going away. Those who embrace it now will be far better positioned in the future. “Whether you like it or not, people are talking about you.”

Social media seems new and scary, but in reality it’s not all that different. It’s the digital universe we’ve created catching up with the human behaviors we’ve had for thousands of years.

Open is better than closed, says Len. When someone comes to Len’s team and asks for a private space, he asks what they have that is so secret it can’t be shared with other employees. When they try doing it openly, they’ve always found that it leads to better employee interaction and works better to solve business needs.

“The value of more eyeballs is astronomical.” The notion of open vs. closed is the biggest factor in keeping them from becoming a siloed shop.

“You enable yourself to grow by sharing, and that’s a little bit uncomfortable for people.” Social in the workplace is toying with the ways we’ve been wired to work. It’s very invasive and we need to focus on helping employees understand that it’s a good thing.

Marketers love to talk. Web 1.0 was a brand with a megaphone. You’ve got two ears and a mouth for a reason. You need to lead with listening. You don’t walk into a party and start shouting about your kittens. You listen and get a sense of the conversation and start to engage.

In the corporate world, there are digital natives and digital immigrants. How do you bring the people who aren’t quite sure into the conversation?

The “virtual water cooler” has been one of EMC’s best strategies. They created a community to talk not about business things, but to talk about what ever employees wanted to discuss. That helps employees get over the first hump: the first blog post, the first tweet, etc. Once you get over that first one, the hard part is over. And they also find that non-business discussions can often generate ideas that turn into valuable business ideas.

EMC also holds a lot of lunch and learn sessions to discuss social media topics in an informal setting and help one another share information about new tools and techniques.

Management participation is another key to ensuring internal buy-in and adoption.

The water cooler helped crowdsource ideas to improve the company’s internal cell phone policy and also generated ideas from employees on how to save the company money.

These are critical skills. They will be expected in your next role, or by your next employer.

Trust is an inherent part of the equation. You already have digital use policies and HR policies that govern employee behavior so you don’t need huge social media policies, and they won’t be read anyway.

Don’t be overly prescriptive, and don’t act like you have all the answers. “Everything we do is crowdsourced on EMC One.”

Forcing behaviors won’t work. No one likes to be told what to do. “Command and control is so 1.0.” The key is to “educate, enable and scale.” Give employees best practices to follow and “playbooks” that show people what a social platform is and how to use it for your business.

The social media team that made EMC One happen was Len and one other person. “Our transformation is based on a mindshare of enablement.”


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  1. Walter Adamson on

    Nice post and I'm amazed how you seem to have kept up with the presentations and blogged coherently at the same time.
    EMC's virtual water cooler way of getting people over the hump is a great idea, and the lunch and learn sessions also, they're both an indication of the training that is needed to achieve the degree of "social savviness" which EMC now has.
    Purely coincidentally I was talking with Jamie Pappas @jameipappas from EMC, on the same day of your post, about EMC's journey in social media. I was impressed with a lot, including their attitude towards employees creating business Facebook pages. I wrote a post about it, which is basically around "3 asks" of staff:
    You might also be interested in a recent post by Jamie General Adoption Techniques for Social Media and Community:
    Walter Adamson @g2m

  2. kellybriefworld on

    Productivity in the workplace can be hindered but also heightened depending on the usage of the application. Companies choose to block or not block social media apps. Unfortunately they are missing out on that grey area where social media apps can be utilized to further innovation and productivity. Palo Alto Networks came out with this whitepaper talking about how to block social media apps and when it is appropriate to let employees utilize these apps productively. To block or not? Check it out: http://bit.ly/d2NZRp

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