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We often hear from hand-waving enterprise 2.0 advocates who tell about adoption of E20 tools within their workplace. Often however this adoption is a thin veneer that doesn?t extend significantly beyond the usual early adopter suspects. Independent digital agency AKQA is bucking this trend. It?s an interesting case study, not least because only the other day I wrote about PBworks special edition of its product targeting agencies.

AKQA is a large, geographically dispersed agency. It has 900 or so employees working across the globe in Europe, the US and APAC. Formerly they used a bunch of different point solutions, all tied up with email and an extranet. Understandably this led to people having to use a large number of disparate systems and issues round integration ? they were looking for a standard global platform that covered off all their collaboration requirements.

So? how does their new setup look?

  • All client campaign material is stored in a central workspace accessible to anyone regardless of physical location
  • The solution itself is hosted by a third party (SaaS) to ensure it is scalable and IT issues are abstracted away from AKQA
  • It is integrated with Microsoft Active Directory, the directory system of choice for AKQA
  • It?s multi language, cross platform and cross device

It really matters little which product AKQA happens to have deployed ? PBworks agency edition, Moxie (despite my poor review), Socialtext or many others. As someone commented on one of my posts recently:

I didn?t see why Facebook was so great until I tried it. I was happy with MySpace until then. Same with Google, I used Yahoo for years ? what did everyone mean by ?better??

And that?s the entire point with Enterprise 2.0. Despite all the hand waving from vendors keen to talk about their particular product, the real story is from end users who are utilizing these tools to enable new ways of working more efficiently. Robert Burns, Executive Director of Information Technology at AKQA puts it succinctly saying:

As a global creative agency, we assign multiple teams on a project regardless of which office they are based in. We treat our employees as a global talent pool. For example, in one campaign, the creative team could be based in Washington D.C. and the technology team in London. [a cloud solution] enables us to keep track of projects in real-time, view client feedback and clearly identify final proofs.

I asked Burns for some more specifics about the benefits they’ve seen from going down this route, the main benefit in the shift from an email-centric approach is that AKQA have created a reliable, one source solution for client interactions that has, in their words, equalled more efficiencies and reduced errors and miscommunication.

In terms of the changes that the approach has made to end users, Burns told me that:

We used to rely on multiple clients updating campaign documents on a daily basis and sharing them via email. This resulted in some missed elements and frustration as additional man hours were required to fix the issues.

So it?s a great success story, as I said the actually product that AKQA chose is very much secondary to the success of he deployment itself ? but in the interests of completeness it’s worth mentioning that Huddle was in fact the successful vendor in his case.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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