Web 2.0 Inside Procter & Gamble

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 6:26 PM EDT

Procter & Gamble's Cincinnati HeadquartersProcter & Gamble is a big, mature organization -- just the kind of company that could really benefit from new Web 2.0 tools that help employees share information and collaborate more efficiently. (See the BNET Feature Package: Putting Web 2.0 to Work.) And even though the P&G chief is sold on new collaboration tools, it's hard to get them out into everyday use. Some of that problem is almost certainly due to the generational spread of the P&G workforce, as pre-Internet age workers are generally less comfortable with "blogs" and "wikis" and whatnot. But P&G is working to help employees learn how to take advantage of these workplace tools, and an Intelligent Enterprise article by J. Nicholas Hoover explains their big challenge and the practical solution:
Ever since A.G. Lafley be-came CEO of Procter & Gamble in 2000, he has pushed employees to improve how they collaborate with one another and with partners in order to develop new products faster. With a supportive CEO and today's myriad Web 2.0 options, what problems could possibly face Joe Schueller, who's driving P&G's adoption of new collaboration tools?
How about e-mail, which Schueller describes as the biggest barrier to employee use of more interactive and effective tools. Schueller faces the harrumphing of employees who see anything other than e-mail as an addition to their workloads. "We consistently hear that information posted to the intranet is incremental work," he says.
P&G also is revamping its BEA Systems-based Web portal, adding RSS feeds of news and business information to let people personalize the portal. Over time, the company expects to suggest feeds for employees based on their roles and the Web sites they frequent. But how does Schueller get anyone to use these tools, if they're seen as extra work?
One way is to look at how people do something today and offer a tool that fits the same process in a simpler way. He offers the example of a P&G executive who, every time he traveled to meet with one regional manager, would put the take-aways into PowerPoint and e-mail them to the others. Instead, IT created a page in Microsoft SharePoint where the exec could post his presentations, and where they could be saved in a more efficient data store than every person's in-box.
In other words, it's not enough just to integrate these new collaboration tools and tell employees they should use them. P&G takes steps to show their employees very specific ways that new and Web-based tools can make work easier for them. After that, the employees climb aboard the new Web train.

(Image of P&G Headquarters by Derek Jensen on Wikipedia, CC 2.0)