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A soft launch was key to creating a social intranet for the 100,000 employees at Deutsche Bank.

Anne-Marie Imafidon (pictured right) told delegates at IoIC Live: “There were five key steps but most important of all was the soft launch.

“It’s the social part that makes it work. You haven’t got to push it too much, just put it out there and say ‘Use it if you want’.”

She then outlined the five steps.


Even before the journey started, back in 2009, Deutsche had internal ‘communities’ where employees could communicate online with people working the same area – in technical areas but also in HR, Ops, comms and so on.

“It was a way for you to liaise with people you feel an affinity with,” explained Anne-Marie. “They used various social platforms, including Sharepoint, but they weren’t meeting people’s needs very well.

“So we brought in Jive under the name MyDB three years ago.”

Soft launch

“It was almost like our little secret at the beginning,” she said. “We had an advance group but it snowballed after the launch and I think the secrecy helped. It made people want to get involved.

“It also meant letting people use it the way they wanted to so they became advocates, champions and super-users.

“We started to see employee-led initiatives flourish. One guy in Tokyo wrote a log about the waste of paper printing out slide decks for meetings when most people didn’t turn up. Within a week he had 800 views and 50 ‘likes’ and a campaign started to stop wasting paper.”

Deutsche’s different divisions started wanting their own section so collaboration boards were established for each one.

What’s in it for me?

Anne-Marie and her team decided it was their role to listen and observe and look for success stories and find out what was working for people.

“We found people were getting answers to their problems,” she said. “We also got social groups around things like cycling, parenting or ailing – not necessarily discussing business but building up a rapport.”

The bank also established a ‘working out loud’ philosophy to increase transparency and in some cases this helped build more relationships and move issues on.

Top-level buy-in

“The platform grew a lot and became un-ignorable, and then senior leaders came along saying how can we use it for top-down communication?” said Anne-Marie.

“So, we started having town hall sessions carried live with follow-up questions and comment on My DB. Also started hosting ‘Ask me anything’ sessions and at the last count there were 100.”

Migrate existing content

The final part was achieved shortly before IoIC Live by integrating MyDB with the bank’s intranet.

“We’ve switched off whole parts of the intranet and moved it onto MyDB,” she explained. “Now we have a social intranet at Deutsche Bank. It’s taken three years and a lot of planning, plus senior people learning a lot of lessons in how you communicate this way.”
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