As one of the largest engineering companies in the world, the German-headquartered Siemens Corporation boasts nearly 350,000 employees in over 200 countries. 1 As a company they possess the belief that “an engaged workforce drives innovation, growth and profitability”2 but how do you engage a workforce of that magnitude?
According to Wikipedia an engaged employee is “one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.”3 This doesn’t sound like a difficult concept and yet according to a 2012 Gallop study only 13% of employees worldwide are considered to be engaged at work.4 In an effort to try to boost their own engagement, Siemens set out to design a platform that would allow their technical employees to share knowledge with their co-workers not only across business units but also across borders.
What Siemens developed was an internal social network that would connect knowledge-seekers with knowledge-holders regardless of their location or area of specialization. In 1998 the first version of TechnoWeb was rolled out within a software development division of 6,000 Siemens employees and became the basis of what would eventually become TechnoWeb 2.0 – a network capable of supporting 40,000 internal users.
According to Project Manager Michael Heiss “the really valuable knowledge lies in the minds of people”5 so the goal of TechnoWeb was simple and is reinforced by its motto: “Find People to Get Answers”6. A request can be entered by any Siemens employee and will be automatically forwarded to any of the over 1,300 networks most likely to be able to provide an answer. The tool eliminates the need for the employee to spend unnecessary time researching the answer themselves and with a 90% success rate for queries it is not hard to see benefit not only for Siemens but for their employees as well.
Lessons for Others
By providing employees with a means to seek answers to their questions Siemens is able to capitalize on the internal knowledge of its employees and transfer the benefits not only to its customers but also to its employees. TechnoWeb 2.0 allows for a faster and more efficient workforce and also provides employees with a sense of empowerment because they are sharing their expertise to assist co-workers and better the company as a whole. A solution like this might not be right for every company based on the size and nature of its workforce but what Siemens is doing with TechnoWeb 2.0 that can serve as an example for most any business is recognizing the value of their employee’s knowledge.
Name of Organization Contact: Michael Heiss, Head of the Research Group Cyber Physical Systems
Authored by: LAESmith
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- About Siemens. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.siemens.com/about/en/
- Management and Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.siemens.com/about/sustainability/en/core-topics/employees/management-and-facts/index.php
- Employee Engagement (n.d). Retrieved January 29, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_engagement
- Crabtree, S. (2013, October 8). Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work. Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/165269/worldwide-employees-engaged-work.aspx
- Mörl, S., Heiss, M., & Richter, A. (n.d.). Siemens: Knowledge Networking with TechnoWeb 2.0. Retrieved January 29, 2016, from http://www.e20cases.org/files/fallstudien/e20cases-09-siemens_english.pdf
- Innovation Stories. (n.d.). Retrieved February 1, 2016, from http://w5.siemens.com/web/at/de/corporate/portal/innovation/innovationstories/pages/technoweb.aspx