Case Studies

See how other companies’ successful social business initiatives are aligned with their overall business objectives.

  • Platform to boost employee collaboration at Swiss Re

    Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, Swiss Re evolved over the last 150 years into a highly diversified global reinsurer offering worldwide traditional and related reinsurance products. The company is one of the leading reinsurers with over 11,000 employees, operating in 26 countries world- wide (SWISS RE, n. d.).

    Subsequently, Swiss Re implemented a collaboration tool that supported their ‘play as one to win’ initiative, which promoted active collaboration across functional and geographic boundaries. The so called ‘Ourspace’ platform based on Jive Software was launched as a self-service community and proved to be a highly intuitive and accessible solution that could be linked to existing tools. In early 2009 a pilot phase involving 1,300 users was launched, making sure the platform fulfilled functional needs. It also created the opportunity to identify value-added business uses for the platform before the global launch of the tool.

    Positioning ‘Ourspace’ internally as a business collaboration platform that integrates the new platform into existing tools and ensures the involvement of employees across functions and countries during the pilot phase paid off. Wolfgang Jastrowski (personal interview, 19th December 2012), Head Communications, Legal, K&R Management IT at Swiss Re puts it like this: ‘To fill the new social business platform during the pilot phase with business-related content was the key success factor. With the global launch all new users had a set of relevant use cases at their fingertips and immediately understood the value of the new solution.’ Seven weeks after the rather silent global launch of ‘Ourspace’ more than 61% of the potential users were on board, 600 had created content and 375 groups had been formed. Soon after, use cases with clear positive business impact emerged, further boosting the value of the ‘Ourspace’ platform for the business. Beside the positive effects of the pilot phase, new ways to treat governance contributed to the success of ‘Ourspace’. While employees had to agree to a usage policy, Swiss Re committed itself not to monitor individual contributions. Instead, a self-governance approach was implemented, leaving the responsibility of ensuring the quality of content and use of the platform to the employee community.

    Swiss Re’s success in implementing an internal collaboration platform to foster communication across geo­graphic and functional borders is mainly based on four key points:

    • A clear understanding of the challenges and needs of the employees, coupled with a clear definition of business goals that drove the selection of a platform that meets user functional requirements.
    • Strong use cases were identified early on across the business divisions to encourage use of the platform for business purposes.
    • Users were encouraged to explore the platform and to identify the best use that fits their daily work environment. Good use cases of the platform were communicated and users rewarded with recognition (non-monetary awards).
    • A self-governance approach was implemented for the platform which communicated trust in the employees.

    SWISS RE (n.d.). About us. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from about_us/


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