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Social networking drives business processes at Pandora and Rosetta Stone

Kristin Burnham | March 27, 2013
Pandora and Rosetta Stone have embraced social business tools and the cloud to cut costs, increase productivity and improve collaboration. Learn how these two companies overcame security concerns, gained executive buy-in and more.

"We've kind of grown up with Salesforce. The reality is that data is more secure in the cloud because it's harder for someone to access it since it exists in many places," he says. "These software companies are much more invested in system security than we could ever be because it's their lifeblood. We could never be as good at managing security as them." Pandora employs about 700 people.

Gaining Executive Buy-In and Navigating Corporate Culture

Mannakkara says that Rosetta Stone executives were onboard, for the most part, with the Chatter implementation. But not all businesses have that luxury, he acknowledges.

"You need to gauge the temperature of the exec team by doing a bite-sized implementation," Mannakkara says. "You need to feel out their tolerance for social and pitch it to them in a way so they see the benefits."

When Mannakkara pitched Chatter to his executive team, he focused on it as a communication tool to achieve better productivity. He highlighted how employees wanted to hear more from the executive team, and this was an easy way to get the job done.

"Plus, part of it is just having executives get exposure to the technology and others who have seen it work," he says. "Then they're not as afraid of the technology."

Next was convincing employees that this tool was beneficial and safe. Mannakkara says they highlighted how it could alleviate email clutter and help employees keep in touch and collaborate with others around the world.

"Change can be hard to embrace. Some employees were concerned about someone saying something inappropriate," he says. "We told them that these things might happen, but it will correct itself. Our culture is that we want to know if employees have problems. Tell us. Regardless of how bad it may seem, if we don't acknowledge it we can't fix it."

Realizing the Social Business Benefits

Pandora deployed Salesforce and Chatter before Rothschild joined the company in 2011. He says that transitioning the company to the cloud was integral to the company going public in mid-2011.

"I dont think we could have gone public if we had to support something like Oracle and hire the people to run it," he says. "For a business like ours, the cost-savings have been really important."

Pandora's gains aren't just cost-savings. Rothschild says Chatter has improved the way employees communicate. The sales group, for example, uses Chatter as its primary means of communication. Rothschild's IT group of 15 employees uses the tool to plan meetings and the company uses it to organize social events like potluck dinners and announce music groups that come to perform every week.

"I wouldn't say it reduces the amount of conversation like you'd have on email, but it's more centralized, in real-time and it feels more casual," he says.


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