Nestlé connects 320,000 employees with Workplace by Facebook

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When Meritxell Guinart Mola (Meri for short) arrived at Nestlé as an Adoption & Change Specialist two years ago she wondered why she got hired. What would the huge Swiss multinational food and drink processing conglomerate need from her? But it did not take long for Meri to find her crucial purpose. With her background in applying data to the knotty problem of change management Nestlé had just the job for her: help to launch and develop their new Workplace platform to hundreds of thousands of colleagues.

When you are rolling out a communications platform to over 320,000 staff you are going to need some powerful tools. When Meri arrived there were already vibrant Chatter and Yammer communities so she know she was dealing with a rich and complex landscape that extended from California to China.

“We started off by testing on smaller group from Mexico Sales where we got superfast adoption of Workplace. In the first wave, we realized that the quick success of Workplace in Mexico wasn’t the same in other parts of the world, for example in South Africa it was a lot harder, and that’s where we learnt the most. We analysed how our colleagues were using the platform. Stories showed a great variation from roll-out in a small retail boutique compared to a factory.”

“I like to find the story behind the data and then build a strategy around it. What emerged was we had to put the user rather than the technology at the centre of our plan. We wanted to understand the different behaviours, so we used the data to create a number of distinct personas, such as Mark Power, Sarah Sceptic and John Privacy.”

At the start of 2019 a whopping 210,000 staff were provisioned and that meant arming champions in the business with the tools to convince the hard-to-reach populations.

“We set about launching the new platform by exploiting different strategies according to the different personas. Where they came up against the John Privacy types who are concerned about their data, we helped the team with more content around security and privacy.”

Meri was able to collaborate closely with HR and Global Comms to make the roll-out of Workplace a key component of the larger picture.

Filippo Catalano, Chief Information Officer at Nestlé, commented:

“Using Workplace by Facebook we are able to give our employees across the globe a platform to build connections, enabling faster and more engaging sharing of information.”

The platform started to have an effect on improving communications: managers could use live video to informally connect directly with employees at different locations. Sales teams also started to use Workplace for daily check-ins and to share information and best practice.

3 lessons from Nestlé

“Firstly we realised that the personas were extremely powerful for our market roll-out teams as it was a way of forecasting some of the behaviours they would see when introducing Workplace.

“Secondly we learnt about the importance of reaching our frontline roles. When you see a graphic that 60% of staff are in the factory you have to put more realistic targets which the local roll-out teams can own. You have to allow them to make it their own success.

“Thirdly we learnt how analytics are key. It is true that no one cares enough about tracking figures when you are focussed on launching. The challenge comes when you reach the maturity phase.”

Meri started by working with dashboards built out of Power BI but more was needed – the data from Workplace was insufficient. But then she found Swoop, the Australian-based tool that does deep analytics of Workplace.

The China problem

Workplace aim at Nestlé was to connect everyone in the organization and that also included China, but of course Meri faced the challenge that Facebook is not allowed in that continent.

“With Workplace and WeChat enterprise we built a bridge so users could post in WeChat and vice versa. It felt like Workplace and it meant you could

talk directly with real people, rather than via some bot. The technical team did a great job connecting everyone to all parts of the world. WeChat enterprise can be freely downloaded, it’s easy to get into the bridge and the data is cheap, so frontline staff in China do not mind using their own smartphones. There is even language translation built into the bridge.”

“We have tried to position Workplace in the right way so it could thrive alongside Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. But inevitably we saw people using it for diverse use cases, despite our guidelines and recommendations. People do whatever they want and that is OK, as long as the tool is valuable for them.

“In our global roles we position the tools. It’s good to give guidelines but user experience is key. Don’t try and thrust your point of view on others; let them discover the best way for themselves.”

Using external marketing ideas – internally

At the heart of Meri’s approach is this user-centric model, which she has borrowed from external marketing. This means having good data and analytics from systems like Swoop and then focussing on finding the patterns and models that can be applied across large populations. She is part of a small team doing strategy, metrics and execution. She remarks wryly:

“The core team we were two hands full…”

Meri is now on the final phase of adoption, getting the rest of the enabled users onto the platform. Yet it is the user-centric approach, and the development of personas and understanding the different needs of users that is at the heart of this project’s success.


Meri Guinart Mola is presenting her case study in conversation with Marc Wright at smilelondon on November 18th.