Case studies are a great way to demonstrate the successful implementation of enterprise collaboration -- if they tell the entire story.

Case Studies Need To Tell the Whole Story

Accenture recently released a case study entitled, Working better together with Accenture Collaboration 2.0. I have put together a number of in depth case studies around enterprise collaboration. When I say “in depth,” I mean case studies that try to cover everything from the financial and operational impact, to the change management issues that an organization needs to go through. This, in my opinion is where the Accenture report falls short…very short.

While I admire their efforts and their willingness to tell their story, it still is only, a very small part of the story.  Like a reader engaged in a poorly written suspense novel we are still left with questions such as:

  • “How did the character get here?”
  • “What happened to the plot development and how do the pieces all fit together?”
  • “Why did this journey even begin?”

All we are told is, what weapon was used to kill Mrs. Peacock in the dining room and that Colonel Mustard went to jail for doing it (a “Clue” film reference). The entire middle of the story is missing. In other words we get the tools and some idea of the ending.

Accenture's Story

Accenture is a global management consulting and outsourcing firm with over 200,000 employees, so it’s safe to say that the company is in fact an “enterprise.” What makes Accenture different from many other large companies is the way that employees collaborate, communicate and share information with one another.

According to Accenture, employees are armed with video conferencing solutions, internal social networks and what they call the “office communicator” which serves as a central communication channel for employees. Employees have the ability to create their own profiles, search for and find relevant content and customize their own central dashboard which they see every time they log in.

This collaboration initiative has been in the works for around 4 years now and has brought together cross-functional teams including but not limited to: the CIO and his team, R&D and technology departments, and employees from the collaboration practice at Accenture. Clearly this initiative was being taken seriously.

What's Missing From Accenture's Story

Now, I know Accenture is a great company with a lot of smart employees (I know a few) that can run circles around me (probably on one leg), but those of us involved in the social business space need and demand more, not just from Accenture, but from every company involved.

As quoted from the Accenture report:

While the number of employees at Accenture increased by 136% and revenue increased by 105% from 2001-2009, IT costs as a percentage of revenue fell by 56%.”

Accenture sites the cost savings from avoiding travel and provides plenty of anecdotal evidence such as

colleagues are finding subject matter experts faster, tapping the company’s assets to prepare proposals and solutions, and allowing our clients to tour offshore deliver centers on the other side of the world just by visiting the closest Telepresence location.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to see and hear about what Accenture is doing around collaboration. I’m just not sure that examples and stories such as these are compelling enough to drive organizational buy in at a senior (or even mid) level. Now for those of you thinking, “why don’t you just call them and ask them?” I did have a few brief e-mail correspondences but alas, they did not feel comfortable with releasing or sharing any more information; which is somewhat understandable.

Case Studies Should Tell the Entire Story

Clearly Accenture is evolving how it does business with clients and employees; this is evidenced from the screenshots found in the report as well as the employee quotes referencing improvements. What is not so easily seen is what was required to make this collaboration successful, what the investment was, what the change management issues were, how roles were impacted at the organization and pretty much any other question you can think of that has anything to do with strategy.  

I would like to encourage organizations to share more about what they are doing around enterprise collaboration and I'm not just talking about stories, I mean real information that you would expect to see from a company of Accenture's caliber.

We talk about sharing and engaging, well then let's do what we say. Please don't tell me about secrecy or competitive information here either, there are tactful and responsible ways to discuss this without laying out the whole battle plan and blue print.

What's are your experiences trying to implement collaboration in your organization? What's your story?