Case Study: Merck & Co. [#e2conf]

This session is presented by Jim Worth and Renee Creciun and Christine Skoroda of Merck.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2011 in Boston.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Merck started their enterprise social business effort in 2009. Before then, there were active communities of practice, knowledge management/ knowledge sharing, collaboration activities and they had an enterprise Portal (as front end to SAP). The research group started work on a wider social business platform and then included two other divisions in their efforts. However, there was no integrated enterprise-wide approach. When the three divisions launched their social business platform, they sent an email notice to 300 people, but took no other formal launch actions.
  • SharePoint. Unlike many other companies here, Merck elected to build their social business sites on a SharePoint 2007 platform.  They augemented SharePoint with Newsgator and other third-party tools. (Newsgator helps with community activities and management.)
  • Office Communicator. They integrated with Office Communicator so that they can display presence.
  • Activity Streams. They have status updates that start with the question, “What are you working on?”
  • Efficiencies. They have quick links to help employees do necessary tasks efficiently such as preparing expense reports.
  • My Documents. This is a MySite that allows users to share specific favorite documents with other users.  It saves employees from repeatedly email documents.
  • Legal Issues. They worked closely with their Risk Office to make sure they satisfied all applicable compliance requirements. There were lots of legal requirements because they operate in a regulated industry. Plus they had to ensure they met legal requirements in each country in which they operate.
  • Merger. The biggest organizational challenge has been that the rollout of these social business tools occured at the same time as Merck was merging with Schering Plough. By virtue of the merger,  natural networks were broken and had to reformed. It was also much tougher to find expertise within the now much bigger organization.
  • Business Goals. They were trying to make the merged organization feel smaller than it was. In addition, they were trying to shift from individual efforts to more collaborative efforts. Finally, they were focused on reducing waste across the organization.
  • Portal. It used to be a repository for information relating to chores that had to be done.  Now it is shifting into being a place where work gets done. Because this is done through a Portal, engagement isn’t just about professional networking. It’s also about providing core documents and resources.
  • Adoption. They had a recent campaign to increase the number of people who engaged with the platform and completed their profiles. Merck gave away prizes (including iPad2s) to encourage people to participate. Ultimately, this helped surface expertise across the organization.
  • Communities. They have lively communities focused on specific topics. Participants tend to be highly engaged. They are now starting some communities focused on specific levels of the organization. These require different governance and support. They also have practice communities focused on specific functions within the organization.
  • Community Stewards. Each community has a community steward. (This person needs to be identified before the online community space is created.) The stewards function as “reverse mentors” within their respective communities.
  • Recognition Buzz. Anyone can provide compliments to a colleague for work well done. You don’t need to sit at a specific level within the organization.
  • Mechanics. They standardized community templates, support methodology and navigation. This means that users don’t need to learn a new way as they move across the site.

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