Keynote speakers during the Tuesday morning opening session of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston discussed how enabling widespread internal and external social collaboration and delivering enhanced customer service through mobile apps have benefited their respective organizations. Richard Foo, Collaboration Director of Nike, Inc. and Phillip Easter, Director of Mobile Apps for American Airlines, informed the audience of ongoing efforts to improve branding, communication and operational efficiency through IT innovation.

Nike Casts Wide Social Collaboration Net

Foo discussed how Nike recently launched a program to connect its global workforce using the Cisco WebEx Social platform. “It’s not about fast, but faster,” said Foo. “How do we connect with people faster, and often people we don’t know.”

Foo said some internal teams at Nike have built one-off, in-house communication tools that work well within silos but serve as “busters” for connecting all the different employees at Nike, including separate brands it owns such as Converse. Using Cisco WebEx Social (which is the new name for Cisco Quad as of today), he said Nike has already created 33,000 new connections in the last 60 days.

“People ask questions and get answers on threads, often from people they don’t know,” Foo said. He stressed the importance of receiving support and buy-in not just from senior executives, but also from internal departments such as legal, HR and internal communications, to the early success of the program.

Foo also said by developing the system for mobile devices first and desktop second, rather than trying to fit a desktop application onto mobile devices, and letting business needs drive technology selection, Nike has helped convince employees they should adapt to the new social collaboration platform.

Looking ahead, Foo said Nike wants to link the platform to transactional solutions. This would allow instances such as a customer reducing an order size to enter the activity stream, alerting the appropriate personnel to contact the customer and hopefully resolve whatever issue caused the order reduction.

American Airline Soars to Customer Service Heights with Mobile Apps

Giving a joint keynote from the concurrent Mobile Connect conference, Easter explained how American Airlines is using mobile apps to provide enhanced customer service. Using their mobile devices, American Airlines customers can perform self-service activities such as checking in for a flight and getting updates on flight status information. During 2011, Easter said American Airlines had 4 million mobile app downloads. American Airlines supports all major mobile platforms, including Nook and Kindle Fire.

In addition, Easter said that as iPhones rapidly evolved from a “nice toy” to a mainstream way for people to perform web-based activities, employees began expecting to have access to corporate systems via iPhones and other smartphone devices.

He said the key to a successful corporate app is the user interface. “Thanks to consumer apps, employees expect gorgeous, delightful corporate apps,” he commented. “Do not take a spreadsheet and make it smaller.”

Easter also said American Airlines has focused on creating quality middleware to allow controlled mobile access to 50 years’ worth of legacy data stored on legacy systems, as well as on intent-based -- rather than location-based -- apps. “Location-based is so 2010,” he said. “It’s why you’re there, not where you are.”

In the near future, Easter said American Airlines plans to allow customers to engage in live mobile chat with agents on the ground to perform activities such as scheduling flights and requesting upgrades.