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Collaborative Learning

General Community

  • Caterpillar Communities of Practice
    Caterpillar’s Knowledge Network has 3000 active communities of practice, boasting 200% ROI for internal communities and 700% externally.  Hard dollar savings?  $75 million as of five years ago.  And you thought this stuff was new?  By the way, five years ago, 85% of Caterpillar’s valuation was based on it’s intellectual capital, and only 15% came from it’s hard assets.  Just thought you might want to chew on this in case you have any lingering doubts that we have fully transitioned to a knowledge and network economy as opposed to an industrial one.
  • EDR – Environmental Dara Resources
    EDR, the leading provider of environmental risk information in the United States, worked with Mzinga to create Commonground, a global community for property due diligence professionals. Commonground allows environmental professionals, engineers, mortgage lenders, attorneys, insurers, appraisers, inspectors and industry thought leaders to collaborate and come together to improve the quality of real estate due diligence.


  • iVillage Mommy Journal
    Mzinga provides iVillage with personal journal technology so that new and expecting mothers can document their journey into motherhood.  Like BabyCenter, another Mzinga client, these solutions are entirely public-facing, but show how individuals can help each other through simple sharing of experience and grassroots wisdom.


  • Intelpedia (Intel)
    Creation of Intelpedia, an internal Wiki boasting over 20,000 articles. Contributions from over 5,000 active authors.  No ROI data that I know of, but think of the implications of capturing all that expertise before the layoffs of this current economic downturn or the departure of the boomers in just a few more years.  (The source here may seem self-referential since it’s me, but original source was a DevLearn online conference that can’t be easily referenced.)
  • i-Zone (Cisco)
    Internal idea sharing through Idea Zone resulted in $3 billion in new market opportunities for Cisco.  400 ideas were submitted to the internal wiki and then 10,000 employees extended those ideas, enhanced them, shot them down etc… to help winnow them down to a manageable number.  These were then further vetted and winnowed by members of the leadership team, resulting in 3 ideas collectively worth $3 billion in new markets.
  • Scottrade Competitor Wiki
    Scottrade has been in growth mode for awhile and couldn’t keep up with either the distribution of new information to new branches or the related influx of competitor information.  Formal models of information capture and delivery were taking too long and requiring too many resources so they moved to a wiki model where everyone could share best practices and new information.  This solution, like many others in this list, is also a great example of how to capture emergent knowledge as well.

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  • Ford SyncMyRide
    To reduce support costs for the Sync product, Ford Motor Company turned to their customers on the SyncMyRide site.  The product has many devices that are approved by the manufacturer for use with Ford; however, customers are finding that there are other devices that can also work with it as well, and are also sharing tips and tricks on using Sync.  The site boasts over 10,000 active users (all of whom have to input a VIN to be compliant with government regulations) and over 1 million message views.  Ford is one of our customers and the site runs on the Mzinga platform.  See here for a source; some of my numbers are more up-to-date since they are a customer.
  • The Watercooler (Best Buy)
    Kicking ass and taking names through all sorts of sharing and employee empowerment.  Discussions, prediction markets, idea sharing, wikis, blogging — really deep employee ownership and sharing of ideas and best practices.  The WaterCooler is the discussion board part of Best Buy’s strategy.[YouTube =
  • Ace Hardware
    Ace saw a 500% ROI through increased sales in under six months from connecting it’s distributed dealers so they can more easily share expertise.  Dealers share expertise with each other via message boards which means that the information is trapped and is searchable by new hires and others who might face similar challenges.
  • British Airways
    BA uses discussions as a way for it’s flight crews to stay connected.  Flight crews are essentially an ad hoc team thrown together for a brief period, so it’s important that they share information with each other in a collective way.  Sometimes the result is collaboration as when the flight crew identified issues with cups.  Other times the discussions capture emergent knowledge.

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