Compulsory viewing: A CEO perspective on the business value of internal social networks


A few days ago Arie Goldshlager pointed me to the fantastic video below of Giam Swiegers, CEO of Deloitte Australia, talking about the company’s use of micro-blogging. Shortly after Forrester announced that Deloitte Australia’s Yammer network had won its 2011 Forrester Groundswell award in the category of Collaboration Systems.

Undoubtedly a major factor in Deloitte Australia’s success in internal social networks is the unreserved support of its CEO. However, as the video below clearly shows, Swiegers is not a man who likes social media for its own sake.

He simply recognizes that it can help lead to outstanding business outcomes. As an accountant and business leader, he sees the business value of using social networks well, and has helped Deloitte Australia to tap that value.

Here are some of the things that Swiegers says in the video:

He says he is personally very active on Yammer, scanning all conversations every 48 hours, and responding to all questions from staff.

Half of their 5,000 staff are on Yammer, with 150 conversations a day.

He gives an example of a second-year consultant who had come up with an innovative idea for a large client that he wasn’t sure about. He posted about it on Yammer at the end of the day. Within two hours he had been told who he should speak to in the firm to, and a single call in the morning gave him the answer he needed. Previously he probably would have spent a lot of time looking but not found what he needed.

The only way to get to the younger people in the organization is to speak with them using their channels.

He said as a senior executive if you can’t handle having a peer conversation with young, junior staff, you shouldn’t get involved. He gave an example of a young staff member who disagreed on a key issue with the CEO who said so publicly. Swiegers far preferred to have the debate with him in public rather than the views being aired in the pub without him knowing about it.

An unpopular policy decision was made internally that Swiegers was not told about. The response on Yammer was strong, quickly leading to changes in the policy, guided by the most sensible alternatives proposed on the social network.

He said that all companies should consider using social media internally, unless they are competitors of Deloitte Australia.

“It’s scary, but it’s exciting”

Social media doesn’t replace memos and staff surveys, as not everyone uses the social media, and you have to be inclusive.


Sometimes the advocates of social media in organizations don’t have sufficient credibility because of their age, style, or approach. When someone of Swiegers’ stature and experience speaks so enthusiastically about the business value of micro-blogging, it is a different proposition.

If your CEO isn’t as enthusiastic as Swiegers, rather than bringing in a SMEG (Social Media Expert/ Guru), show him or her this video.