Philips’ Leadership Summit goes all-digital


When it comes to innovation, Philips can be considered the rock star of internal social media. Known for their successful ways of connecting employees and delivering company information, it seemed only a matter of time before the world leader in healthcare/consumer lifestyle, lighting solutions implemented social into their live events.

Last month, Philips produced their first all-digital leadership summit held in the Netherlands. Unlike the previous years’ events this year’s annual strategic meeting aimed to “develop additional communications skills for leaders while enhancing the summit experience,” according to Philips Global Internal Communications Officer, Dennis Agusi.

A global communications and marketing meeting attended by 100 Philips employees in September helped the Internal Communications team test run an all-digital meeting experience.

Going paperless 

Three hundred executives from across the Philips organization attended last month’s leadership summit, while 450 joined virtually. Meeting materials were made available via a customized app, simply titled, “Summit App”. The Socialcast-powered app was distributed via Philips’ enterprise app store offering easy accessibility and quick downloads. It was launched a week before the meeting occurred and contained the agenda, speaker information, voting as well as floor plans and other relevant details.

“A very practical benefit of going digital was the fact we could update the agenda at any time. Whereas our previous meeting agendas were print and static, we were now working with a dynamic content management system which offered more flexibility and made our lives easier,” Agusi points out.

Agendas were also personalized – arranged according to a leader’s business sector and location.

An engaging experience 

Agusi explains, “We used Socialcast’s API to connect with Connect Us, our enterprise social platform. We created a private group for leaders to engage and have dialogues. Upon opening the summit app, they saw the activity stream on which they could create their own messages and engage with other messages. This made it easy for them to connect with other participants and share information, photos and videos.”

Leaders could also rate each session, as well as pose questions and download presentations directly after the presentation itself.

All content on Philips’ Socialcast community was projected onto meeting walls, creating a powerful, visual experience.

There was even augmented reality at the meeting, adding a digital layer to printed statistics about social media usage. For example, waving a tablet across a Facebook board enabled a video to play automatically.

Adding to the “wow effect” of the summit, Agusi says, was the ability to humanize leaders by having their profile picture from Socialcast connected to the participants list in the summit app. This offered increased recognition of delegates making the participants list far more than just a name and email address.

“During the meeting registration, we connected to leaders’ LinkedIn profiles via QR Codes on their name badges. This motivated delegates to connect online as well as offline,” Agusi notes.

Scoring points with delegates 

Gamification was also used at the meeting to make the experience memorable and was a natural fit for executives with a competitive nature.

“This was a powerful tool for us. We created a digital leader competition in that every day, a leader won a prize by being active on Socialcast. If someone shared a message on Socialcast, they were awarded 5 points; posting a comment – 3 pts; scanning their QR codes on a name badge – 3 pts; ‘liking’ a message on Connect Us – 1 point.

“This really helped drive activity; leaders who were never active in our social communities before were suddenly catching up and showing off their digital skills,” Agusi recalls.

Gamification also created a pyramid learning effect allowing early adopters to lead by example and help their less socially savvy counterparts get a better understanding of how social tools work.

Digital buddies

Agusi also helped organize another valuable resource that helped make executives’ social experience as seamless as possible: digital buddies.

“Digital buddies are Philips employees highly experienced in every part of business – from IT to Communications. They were quite easy for us to find in the organization since we’re already 3 years ahead using the Socialcast platform and other digital tools.

“Digital buddies helped leaders get connected at the summit and were on hand to answer any questions they had: ‘what does ‘like’ mean?’; ‘how do I comment?’; ‘what passwords should I use?’ They were a huge asset for us – without them, it would have been quite challenging to connect everyone,” Agusi acknowledges.

Digital buddies also provided extra mobile devices if needed, however, the majority of delegates came equipped with their own smartphones or tablets.

Since the summit, many leaders have kept the rapport going with their digital aides helping to knock down hierarchical barriers at the company.

“Before this, many digital buddies only had a picture of these leaders in their minds. Thanks to this reverse mentoring, people can place a face to the name and engage more easily with leaders. In turn, executives have a greater respect for them as well,” Agusi says.

Employee involvement

The visibility and accessibility the strategic meeting provided extended back to Philips employees at headquarters.

Employees were able to follow public conversation streams via the summit’s dedicated hashtag (#summit2013) and could post questions to leaders in the “Blue Room”, a daily Summit TV program produced for the 120,000 Philips employees across the Globe. The exchange was made available on Connect Us, Philips Network News (PNN) and the group intranet.

Several leaders also blogged about the meeting on Socialcast, providing additional updates and transparency.

Results and feedback

While the summit was held only a few weeks ago, initial social analytics that are coming in are quite favorable: 59% of leaders were digitally active at the summit as compared to 10% social media usage externally.

Specific comments included leaders feeling more “emotionally connected to the summit” as well as the sentiment that digital meetings “are a step in the right direction at Philips.”

Paul Osgood, Head of Internal Communications at Philips, admits that the high adoption rate came as a bit of a surprise. “We didn’t expect leaders to adopt so quickly. It just shows that you can’t underestimate your leaders.”

He also credits strong internal partnerships for making the summit a success. “Good partners are really important when you’re organizing an event like this. It was a true team effort within Philips’ Summit project team.

Since February’s meeting, an increasing amount of leaders are now creating Socialcast communities for better collaboration with employees. Osgood says, “Our leadership summit demonstrated the power of digital and how to use these tools. As a result, leaders are cascading their knowledge and passion down to their employees.”