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Nationwide spends £10m on employee social networking system

COO Tony Prestedge outlines employee engagement initiative

Financial services giant Nationwide Building Society has spent a year upgrading its employee engagement systems to the tune of £10m.

The company is moving towards an social networking model of internal communications as part of a £700m project to transform the infrastructure and applications that support the business.

Speaking with CIO UK, Nationwide COO Tony Prestedge said the initiative to bring the board closer to employees has contributed to double-digit growth in every one of the company's core product lines.

"Against comparable institutions, we are clearly rated as leaders in service delivery," he said, "because we now have a more capable and confident workforce."

The initiative is around giving the company's 19,000 employees access to the board members at least once a month through a dedicated portal and web broadcasting.

The web streaming element is delivered by video specialist Kontiki, the supplier behind BBC's original iPlayer platform. It is used by board members to deliver news through a video blog or to answer employees queries sent through messaging systems. The board can also sit in on employee chatrooms to interact with them directly.

The employee portal has also been upgraded so that they can self-store information and interact with each other through chat-rooms.

Employees can also register to have company news sent through SMS to their mobile phones.

Prestedge confirmed that this was in line with the company's strategy to move internal communication on to a social networking-style platform, although he was unsure how far this initiative was going to go in the next 12 months.

There is a possibility that Nationwide may adopt a dedicated social networking application, although it is unlikely that it will use an external site.

The employee engagement initiative, which was started early last year and is expected to complete in the middle of 2012 is part of a five-tier company-wide technology transformation project. This includes an upgrade of Nationwide's infrastructure and data centres, a move to server and desktop virtualisation, a replacement of core product applications and an overhaul of the company's internet banking business.

Vendor partners include Avello, IBM, Microsoft, and SAP.

Alongside this, three regional businesses in Derbyshire, Cheshire and Dunfirmline are undergoing a consolidation programme and move to a new base in Scotland.

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