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The Inside Scoop on Nationwide's Social Networking Project

When Nationwide Mutual Insurance wanted to improve productivity and employee engagement, it thought social networking would do the trick. As it discovered, success requires a lot more than just turning on software for chat and personal profiles. Finding the right tool that also complies with both employee expectations and data governance policies isn't always easy.

First, the $20.3 billion financial services firm bought Lotus Connections. It was enthusiastic about the software's integration with Notes mail, Quickr document management and Sametime messaging. IBM's integration "was ahead of most other companies' in terms of vision," says Mark Gaetano, CIO for enterprise applications at Nationwide. "But there are complexities that financial services companies face." And sometimes a social networking tool does too much.

Lotus Connections integrates with document management, making documents searchable by end users in a way that could violate policies for protecting sensitive data at financial firms, Gaetano says. That automatically limited the potential user pool for the tool, undermining the purpose of social networking software: connecting as many people as possible.

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