Electronic Arts (EA) is a leading global company in interactive entertainment with 9,000 employees scattered across the world. The company was having a hard time with employee collaboration and team development due to the dispersed nature of its employees. It had an out-of-date collaboration platform called EA Knowledge, featuring searchable blogs, images, and other information, but it wasn’t widely being used. EA wanted to find a way to enable its talent to connect and communicate with one another in a natural and effective setting. It wanted all employees to be able to easily network with one another to increase efficiency and decrease the time development time of a new game. Traditionally, networking within the company has depended on who you knew and what contacts you had built through years of work with the company. EA initiated an internal social network to streamline this process and allow employees to communicate globally.
The network is called EA People. It not only increases collaboration, reduces multiple efforts on one task, sparks conversation and increases innovation, but it also helps with employee “on-boarding.” This is the process of training and assimilating new employees to the company. Following the employees expectations from public social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, EA People was made to be customizable by individual employees as well as user-friendly. It also includes an updated form of EA Knowledge. The next aspect of the site is key: they kept the network aligned with the company’s image and business objectives. They didn’t simply copy Facebook and change the name; they kept it relevant to the objective at hand, employee collaboration. Employees post their skills, current projects, contacts, career goals, and so on.
Another important aspect is the network’s release. The company put it on the corporate intranet without an announcement, under the premise that viral word-of-mouth advertising is the best way to respect the different locations’ unique cultures. This was very effective, in just eight months 3,500 employees had created profiles on the site. Collaborative Thinking blogger Mike Gotta lists notes about a conference he attended featuring the director of EA Bert Sandie on his November 3, 2009 blogpost here.
One way EA is measuring the success of the network by keeping track of the number of “connected conversations” stemming from EA People. “Connected conversations” occur when a user finds someone on the site and contacts them via the e-mail link on his/her profile. The network has been very successful for the company and its employees. Microsoft provides a more detailed case study, click here to access it. For more information on measurement, check out Andrew Conry-Murray insights into ROI of enterprise social networks in his blogpost here.