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by Lisa Banks

BankWest Sees Success with in-House Social Networking

Jul 30, 20103 mins
Build AutomationCIOInternet

BankWest has revealed details of its internal social networking service, IdeaBank, with the platform resulting in more collaboration and innovation.

BankWest has revealed details of its internal social networking service, IdeaBank, with the platform resulting in more collaboration and innovation.

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Head of application delivery at the bank, Dave Williams, addressed a group of IT professionals in Sydney at the Gartner SOA summit where he outlined how IdeaBank is fostering shared information and increased customer growth.

“At BankWest we’ve built an application called IdeaBank. It’s a social networking application. You can go to it and say ‘I have a problem, can you help me solve it?’ You don’t worry if people can solve your problem because it’s more about putting your idea out there,” Williams said.

“People you meet may share their ideas on possibly joining the bank, and ask who to speak to. As a guy in IT, I know who to go to, but for many people, they don’t know what to do with this knowledge. A very simple idea of not needing to know where to send someone was where IdeaBank stemmed from.”

Williams described himself as a “serial innovator” who is concerned while innovative ideas are generated in the workplace, IT employees may be preconditioned to not share these with co-workers.

“No matter how much time as IT or business people we put into innovation, the less innovation actually occurs and it creates a paradox. Are we pre-conditioning ourselves to shut down people with innovative ideas? Are our BPM systems preconditioned to not be changed?,” he said.

BankWest, bought by the Commonwealth Bank in 2008, developed the IdeaBank system in 10 weeks, aiming to make reporting a customer “lead” as simple as possible.

“Our system works by having an employee identify a potential customer, register this lead in our system, and enter information about them in as much or as little detail as they want. In a manual system, you didn’t find out what happened with that suggestion. We now provide feedback to the people who suggest ideas. The more the people find these, the more points you earn. You can build these up and collect a gift,” Willilams said.

Williams said BankWest did not adopt a public social networking system that could incorporate customers as well as staff members because security was a concern.

“There was some nervousness about inside defence versus outside defence. We’re not at the level of maturity as a bank to go out in the public and use a public social network to share our information,” he said.

With 22,000 leads received in the first 10 months after deployment, Williams said the program is built on the different strengths of employees.

“Bring together the problems with the solvers. It needs to be collaborative. It needs to be made simple for everybody. You need to be able to express your problem immediately. You need to have a wealth of ideas,” he said.

The Commonwealth Bank recently shared some details about its whole of bank intranet with an integrated social networking platform.