Korn Ferry didn’t just want another intranet. They wanted an intelligent workspace with smarter tools that make it easier for employees to get work done and deliver better quality solutions for clients. Alison Boothby talks to Bryan Ackermann, Chief Information Officer at Korn Ferry, to find out more about creating a collaboration infrastructure as part of an intelligent digital workplace.
In the past five years Korn Ferry has grown over three times in employee size to a workforce of over 8000 employees in a global organisation across 110 offices. This growth has been driven by mergers with HayGroup as well as organic growth resulting in a truly unique organisational consulting firm that delivers the strategy and talent to drive superior performance and sustainable growth for their clients.
A very sizeable challenge
“Like many professional services organisations, we were struggling with content management and knowledge sharing. This traditional challenge was heightened by three factors: the incredible islands of content and knowledge held broadly in the legacy brands; the fact that 1 in 5 employees has been with the company for less than a year with millennials being the largest workforce demographic; and the workforce becoming much more mobile,” explained Bryan.
It’s not hard to see that there was a very real need for the business to harness data and knowledge from all locations in a quick and easy way. The rapid expansion of the workforce along with a significant change in their market offerings certainly makes it tough to ensure that everyone is up to speed with what the company does and fully understands its capabilities.
“But that’s not the whole story.” says Bryan. “Korn Ferry will continue to accelerate its rapid growth over the next five years, an ambitious objective that requires a fully informed and productive workforce. Creating our intelligent and engaging ‘One Korn Ferry’ digital workspace – it’s called FUSE – is a major priority to help facilitate such rapid growth.
It needs to enhance the way people work and be the go-to place for all collaboration and information needs. It also needs to be flexible enough to evolve and grow to meet the demands of our changing business requirements.”
In short, the key objectives of FUSE are to:
- Bring together new and existing Korn Ferry staff and teams under one digital roof
- Provide a single platform to effectively communicate, collaborate and manage knowledge across the entire organisation
- Increase efficiencies in business processes
- Ensure consistency in knowledge sharing by connecting the right people with the right knowledge at the right time
- Create clear classifications and ownership of content
Korn Ferry organised a joint team made up of business leaders, consultants and IT professionals called the Collective Intelligence Task Force, and chose to partner with ClearPeople who offer a valuable combination of technical consulting and digital agency services. It was their ability to bring together the needs of the business, marketing and IT that made them an attractive partner for the project. “ClearPeople have a unique way of combining deep technical expertise with user experience skills. This balance of design thinking with some really smart technical solutions makes them great problem solvers. They were able to take something very complex and deliver a great UX that allows our employees to access information from all sorts of places and in a digestible and simple format,” explained Bryan.
The new platform has all the expected features of a modern intranet such as personalisation settings on the homepage, enabling users to select their preferences for alerts, news, events etc, as well as a launchpad feature that allows quick access to favourite items and apps. The fact that it integrates with all the other business systems means that employees have immediate visibility of activity and information that saves them time and, importantly, helps them respond more quickly and efficiently to clients.
More than just an intranet
Korn Ferry has harnessed the power of O365 and Sharepoint Online with FUSE taking full advantage of Microsoft’s evolving roadmap. Bryan continues: “Building just another intranet was the easy bit. We wanted something that would be truly different; something that was fully integrated with every business application. What we have got with FUSE is a multidimensional way of communicating and a window to find millions of pieces of information. It is somewhere the entire business can harness data, insight and expertise.”
“Building just another intranet was the easy bit. We wanted something that would be truly different”
FUSE is packed with tools to increase engagement, enable faster and smarter working and produce superior outcomes for users and clients. For example, Korn Ferry is one of the first global organisations to take advantage of Microsoft’s multi-geo features in Office 365, which replaces a traditional file server infrastructure and the collaborative roadblocks created by on-premises silos. Multi-geo supports a frictionless collaboration experience where there is no compromise between security and accessibility to data, enabling access to the information employees need when and wherever they need it.
Next, there’s Group Explorer, a handy tool that brings together the various collaboration areas within Office 365 including Groups, Yammer and Microsoft Teams. By allowing users to search by content, navigating the Office 365 suite is no longer overwhelming – in fact, it’s dead simple! As Bryan says: “Group Explorer is helping us to bring together new and existing Korn Ferry staff and teams under one digital roof. We’ve deployed the tool within our new intranet which provides one platform to effectively communicate, collaborate and manage knowledge across the entire organisation. It is improving our ability to respond to clients and it’s leading to higher adoption levels of our Microsoft applications as well as making governance of internal collaboration much easier.”
FUSE launched just ten weeks ago supported by a huge branding campaign. Initial feedback is extremely positive with enormous usage – in excess of 1.5 million hits – in the first few weeks. At the moment emphasis is on actively encouraging everyone to participate with a very light touch on the curation and moderation of content. In Bryan’s view, this is the only way FUSE can be truly sustainable.
In terms of ongoing challenges, an unintended consequence of having created such a powerful knowledgebase and search capability is that users do need to be discerning about the search results they find! With over 24 million pieces of content at your fingertips, it is impossible to guarantee that everything surfaced is up-to-date. “It’s a problem, but a good problem to have,” quips Bryan.
Korn Ferry wanted more than an intranet; they wanted to create a collaboration infrastructure. With FUSE they have successfully created a window into an eco-system that makes working together easy.
In terms of quantifying success, for the time being it’s all about being able to service clients better:
- Are people collaborating faster?
- Are employees spending more time with clients?
- Can they win more work, faster?
- Can they deliver projects faster?
- Can they answer client queries more quickly?
The answer to all these questions is YES. It’s a very encouraging start.
Employees at Korn Ferry are passionate about FUSE and it’s a big step towards enabling the ‘One Korn Ferry’ culture which is so essential for the future success of the organisation. It’s early days and the platform will evolve over time as the firm grows and expands.
Bryan Ackermann and ClearPeople will be on stage at smileLondon on 12th November to share their experiences. Come and find out more about their story.