I was just in Germany at the #JamCamp!  I met up with one of the earliest adopters of Social — Bayer!

I wanted to share their storyas  told to the audience by Kurt De Ruwe, the visionary CIO who began this social collaboration revolution inside the company. (See Kurt and I below after our lunch together discussing next steps!)

With over 111k employees, Kurt and team had several challenges. They had several teams working on the same problem across the world with duplication of effort and no real sharing of the solutions.   With an aging population,  Kurt had  35% of the people with thorough process and tool knowledge that were going to retire in the next 7 to 10 years.

So he set out to help Bayer become more competitive.  With a primary Social question in mind, he drove to create a culture where sharing is seen as normal and to stimulate the innovation process.

He piloted a set of communities in R&D (for innovation) and O&I (for social knowledge management of  best practices).  His progress and viral usage was amazing.

The pilot he started in the Materials Areas is now set to be ssed throughout his company. The R&D team focused on innovation, communities to spark the spirit of the team, and to facilitate crowdsourcing of ideas.  For O&I, he wisely worked on setting up places of sharing, communities to drive better practices, and to reach the teams at all levels.   

The success of his innovation stimulation and best practice sharing was built on a set of simple principles:

•Keeping it simple and standard makes a big difference
•Start small.  Kurt started with R&D and O&I.   Then he focused on glogging, and then micro blogging teaching and sharing along the way.
•His focus is on participation at all levels of the organization.  He is a great role model and example, having his own blog. •Focus and training are a must.
•Users default behavior is not to share, once you change this the rest is easy!
For his choice of Social Business Platform, he selected IBM Connections.    This choise was based on:
•A tool that was easy to use without the need of training
•A tool that would promote open sharing of information
•A tool that would allow to limit access to certain pieces of information if this would be required
•A tool that was easy scalable
•A tool with a low running and maintenance costs
•Users had to be able to use it without the help of It or of specialists