When good case studies of intranets or digital workplaces do the rounds there has tended to be a disproportionate volume from America and Western Europe, with a smattering from Australia as well. So it’s always great to feature more stories from elsewhere which reflect a different take on the digital workplace, and are a mirror / product of a different working environment and organisational culture.
Over the past few months I’ve been intrigued to occasionally read about what POSCO haa seen up to in its “Smarter Workplace” programme. POSCO is based in South Korea and is the world’s fourth largest steelmaker.
The programme, also known as POSPIA 3.0, has been around since 2010 in some form or other and looks like it is an programme of several digital initiatives branded around the “Smart Work” theme, all underpinned by a drive for more collaboration, productivity and efficiency. A word which is also used extensively in external communications about the programme is enabling “creativity”, a concept not often associated with this sort of digital initiative.
PIRI and Smartphones
The first Smarter Workplace initiative had a strong emphasis on mobility, with every employee receiving a smartphone. (Warning link goes to a PDF download) This was accompanied with the introduction of an internal micro-blogging facility called PIRI (POSCO In Real-time Interaction), which was specifically enabled for each smartphone to aid communication and interaction.
There was also a range of other initiatives, including the extension of e-learning, although POSCO refers to this as U-learning.
Smart Office reorganisation
Unusually there was also a physical office reorganisation which also taps into the aims of the wider programme , including that “creativity” element. This eliminated 25% of dead office space and created zoned environments to foster different types of working activity including:
- a Focus space (quiet area)
- an Insight Space (library)
- and a Communication Space (informal collaboration).
Smart work on the factory floor
Mobile has also been extended to factory workers. This is labelled as the “Smart Work” environment and involves mobile device use on the factory floor and RFID tags. This allows users to check the status of different equipment and carry out various processes which previously could only be done in the office environment. According to POSCO:
“With this system, employees can now process their overall work with their smartphones, ranging from paper work to equipment inspection and the management and inspection of safety systems, increasing data reliability and reducing time for equipment inspection, transportation-distribution and inventory management. “
POSCO also attributes a “significant” rise in both efficiency and job satisfaction to the initiative.
The latest strand of the programme is a Google Apps and Google Search Appliance implementation. launched and extended through 2012. This is a high-profile deal and even Eric Schmidt has met up with POSCO Chairman Chung Joon-yang.
Some of the examples of use cited include expert location and project management, as well as the softer outcomes like the recording and recognition of “essential achievements” to help drive employee engagement.
Although published metrics never include the “small print”, POSCO have been quite bullish about some of the early quantifiable benefits coming out of the programme, including:
- A reduction in the printing out of documents by 77%
- A reduction in printed documents being used in “briefings” (presumably meetings) from 71% to 20%
- The “ratio of co-operation” (not quite sure how you measure that, but it implies it’s an employee satisfaction metric) has improved by 81%
- 14% decrease in long- distrance business travel and 30% in “wasted” travel costs
- Speed for approval and authorization “by superiors” has improved by 63% (I’m presuming using workflow)
- The Unified Content Management system produces 11,400 document per day, 85% of which are shared
- 90% of employees surveyed have “positive reviews” of the system
Now, that’s what I call a digital workplace programme
While what POSCO have done is not unique, it has certainly ticked the box in several areas including:
- A wide scope which covers collaboration, social, workflow, applications and physical office optimisation
- Digital initiatives in the framework of a strategic transformation programme with high-level support and visibility
- A strong commitment to enterprise mobility
- Application across both the office and factory working environments
These are the sort of factors which are highlighted in the report I recently authored for the Digital Workplace Group called Digital Workplace fundamentals: the integrated approach (available free for download via registration) where a holistic scope and multi-functional approach to digital work initiatives is advocated.
While clearly that breadth of scope is not suitable for all digital initiatives, a framework and brand for an overall programme with some clear strategic objectives and robust governance, can give consistency and push in global organisations for some potentially disparate activities . So at least judging on their external communications about it, in my view POSCO have gone about this in a very interesting way.