Enterprise social networking has landed in BT

Last weekend we launched our internal enterprise social network … my profile page is below (still a bit empty as I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet).

BT enterprise social network

So what’s on offer on this page?:

  • top left is the normal friends functionality … only we call them contacts because it would never do to have friends at work 😉 … this also displays a newsfeed of your contacts’ current activities or status (you can edit your status at the top of the page)
  • below that is My personal FAQ which is a place that you, or others, can pose questions that you would like answers for … searchable, of course
  • top right is social bookmarking … although mine is currently empty
  • below that is a newsfeed of activity on my profile page
  • out of sight below the fold is wall or message board functionality.

All good stuff – but what I REALLY like are the two sections (also just below the fold in the central column) called skills and interests. When you type in a new skill or interest, if someone else has already typed in that skill or interest, you are offered that option in a drop down menu. If you select that interest from the drop-down, the system connects you to the other person with the same skill and creates a group page on which you can collaborate … lush! … as my 7yr old son says.

We’re looking at integrating Twitter and blog posts etc. to ensure the page fully reflects all your social activity. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to have a play! 🙂


  1. I’m loving your “My Personal FAQ”. Having just come out of my mid-year review where I was asked how I input into the knowledge transfer in my company I would’ve liked to have all of those emails I deleted that answered people’s questions right there on “My Personal FAQ”!

  2. Looks great! I’m interested in knowing about the technology behind it – was it built from scratch or on top of an existing social networking app?

  3. Andy – it is built on our portal, or Workplace Hub, which is BEA AquaLogic.

  4. Brilliant looking site! What’s been the level of employee participation so far and what are employees saying about the site?

  5. Richard

    Any particular reason for self-build? We’ve used third party platforms for clients and have of course found good and not so good points. I’m sure I know the reason why you chose self-build but would not like to assume too much in this world!!


  6. Hi Richard,

    I think this is really impressive.

    I am a member of CIPR Inside – a sectoral committee of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations which focuses on internal communications. We are running a membership event on 9 October which we thought you may be interested in, and perhaps participating in.

    We already have a number of potential speakers lined up and are in the process of working up the promotional material. I am a great fan of your work on authentic leadership / comms and would be delighted if you could get involved in this event in some capacity.

    See details below.


    The communications challenges of the first 100 days of a CEO


    Part 1: A debate where two speakers take opposite views:

    Speaker one will take the view that it is critical to set out the leaders vision, direction and authentic voice in the first 100 days.
    Speaker two will argue that the leader should not get too caught up in the first 100 days and should be more focused on learning about the organisation in order to make better long-term decisions.

    We will have a chair (a la David Dimbleby) who will give the attendees the opportunity to ask each speaker questions about their positions.

    Part 2: Identify topics then discuss in break out groups / tables

    The debate should be fertile ground for opening up discussion around key communications issues. We suggest each table is allocated an issue (we will try to identify likely issues in advance) which they should then explore in more detail before presenting back their finding in plenary. The chair will continue to manage this part of the event.

    Part 3: Panel discussion / Q&A

    We will finish with a panel discussion / Q&A involving the two speakers plus any members of the CIPR Advisory Board (e.g. Bill Quirke) who are able to attend.

    Many thanks



  7. Marique – it has been very well received – it’s a bit early to measure adoption as it’s only been live a couple of week.

    Peter – the process we agreed was: see what we already have inside; if nothing, look outside for off-the-shelf; if that’s too expensive/unfeasible, we’ll build from scratch. We didn’t get beyond the first step as it was built easily on top of our existing portal product.

    Scott – I’ll drop you an e-mail.

  8. Very interesting! I was wondering: when you mention your skill do other employees also get to rate your skill? And what is the incentive to keep your profile up-to-date?

  9. You cannot rate other people’s skills … we are introducing rating but this will be about how much value a particular piece of content is to the reader. You need to be careful about rating people’s skills as rating performance is the function of a performance management system, not colleagues – you will find that unions will object to informal performance management through a rating system.

    The incentives to add your skills are varied, from following the crowd to building your personal on-line brand.

  10. Just a point about the ‘skills’ issue.

    We’ve sought to defuse this (well, temporarily perhaps) by using the notion of ‘experience’ (note, not ‘expertise).

    We’re leaving it to the hoped-for dialogue between seekers and providers, as to whether the ‘experience’ is construed as expertise or a skill, or just experience. As far as our thinking has gone, these things can only be a marker, to enable first contact. Thereafter it’s up to those involved to construct some sort of shared understanding. Otherwise you get into all sorts of issues, which Richard indicates, including “Who Says [that you’ve got a skill]?” (to which the answer is not “Certification”…!)

    Thanks for posting about this – BT’s journey is a most interesting one!

  11. Very very very Cool! For me is one of the most complete and avanced tool i ever seen in my (looong) career of intranet manager and consultant in Italy.

    My complimentes (and a little bit of jealousy) for your work

    p.s. just a question: why not link this page whit your contribute around all intranet? I mean: my post on the forum, my public document published, my pages creadet on wiki ecc. People coud also vote the quality of your contribute (i’m crazy??)

  12. Giacomo – that’s the idea … we want to be able to integrate and display as much of a user’s activities on this site as possible – a kind of lifestream. Rating is also under consideration – we use it in other parts of our social media ‘estate’.

  13. This looks excellent, congratulations. Out of interest, how long did it take you to get to this stage, and to what degree were the staff involvement in its development?

  14. It grew from an abvious need from employees – we had 12k BT people join a Facebook group called ‘BT’ set up by Facebook itself – we couldn’t ignore this need and chose to offer an internal solution so that people could network inside our firewall and we had some degree of ‘control’ … not that I like to use this word in a social media context, but we didn’t want BT people working on the internet purely because they couldn’t get access to the functionality internally.

  15. Pingback: Bookmarks about Bt

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