Bayer Material Science Adopts Lotus Connections – An Update on Value and Adoption

Last November, I pointed to the announcement that Bayer Material Science in Germany was implementing Lotus Connections. This was of particular interest to me since I frequently hear about how the “privacy laws” in Germany make the adoption of collaboration and social tools inside organizations difficult. Kurt, the CIO at BMS, kindly responded to my blog post and shared more.

Earlier this week, in the German edition of CIO Magazine, there is a longer write up on how things are going. I don’t speak German, but thanks to Google Translate, was able to make out the following key points:

1. BMS has 15,000 employees in 30 locations. There was unnecessary duplication of work going on, and something needed to be changed to give cross-location visibility.

2. A related challenge was the aging of the workforce, and that key researchers will be retiring within 10 years. BMS needed some way of capturing their knowledge and sharing it with the younger employees.

3. Lotus Connections followed an earlier attempt using different technology – which was more about knowledge management. It didn’t work though, and was cancelled. This was 2 years ago.

4. Kurt says the most important aspect is psychological, not technological. He concurs with the NetAge research finding, that it’s only “10% technology.”

5. Kurt discovered Lotus Connections – which was about “collaboration,” not “knowledge management.” It was trialled by a group of 50 people in research and development, and within months, was being used by 700 employees.

6. Key early outcome – employees can find / discover other employees that they didn’t know were at BMS.

7. Adoption now stands at 2600. BMS is currently using Lotus Connections 3.0.

8. Users like the simplicity of Connections. It’s not complex to adopt or pick up. They also like the way many capabilities are integrated into a single application. Users don’t have to switch back-and-forth between multiple tools.

9. Employees are free to set up new communities, and those that set them up have to define the rules of engagement for the community. The owner can also state whether the community is open to all or by invitation only.

10. There has been a decrease in the use of email. Communication and interaction that used to happen over email now happen within Connections.

11. In 2011, a key focus will be driving wider adoption.

12. The five most active users of Connections are over 40 years old, thus dispelling the myth – at BMS at least – about “old people” not “getting” the use of new collaboration tools at work.

In the English translation from Google, the article finishes with:

Ideas cross borders, problems are solved worldwide customer feedback goes through the whole group, open communication will strengthen the team spirit of employees, and at last, knowledge is not lost but continues to develop. The list of benefits that justify the Collaboration Tool at BMS offers. “We’re already at the point where we no longer can turn off,” says De Ruwe and still holds ready an argument that probably no CIO can be cold “. We pay one euro per user per month.”

My Comments
1. Thanks to Kurt and BMS for talking freely about current state. It’s great to get an update on how things are going.

2. With 2600 current users out of 15,000 employees, BMS has attracted the first-wave of adopters (17%). The next phase, for 2011, is to shift the second wave of people to the new way of working. I wonder which strategies Kurt and his team will embrace?

One thought on “Bayer Material Science Adopts Lotus Connections – An Update on Value and Adoption

  1. Michael, A few weeks ago we decided in the Bayer CIO Board to deploy IBM Connections to the whole of Bayer. This will change things significantly. In BMS we have crossed the 50% mark. We now have over 7.000 active users and adoption is still increasing day by day.

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