Genting gets social with Web 2.0

The Malaysian enterprise is rolling out this week a customized collaborative network for board and senior management to work and share ideas more productively.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

While companies are only starting to think about introducing Web 2.0 for a new generation of workers, Genting Berhad is rolling out such tools specifically for its senior executives and board of directors.

This week, Genting Berhad is launching its Digital Boardroom (DB) 2.0, a collaborative platform to enhance business decision making, eGenting's senior vice president for e-business Stanley Ng told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview. eGenting is a subsidiary that manages IT for Genting Berhad.

Malaysia-based Genting has diverse businesses including the Genting Highlands Resort in Malaysia and the upcoming Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore, both of which fall under its leisure and hospitality business.

Its expansion over the years meant its chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, had to constantly travel to various countries for meetings, said Ng. The Genting chairman, directors and business subsidiary heads faced the challenge of massive information as well as constant data changes that impacted effective decision making.

Ng noted that technology was identified as the "strategic change agent" to the situation.

"At the top level of any organization, communication is the way executives collaborate and make decisions. This is of course also supported by information and facts, [but] conversations are how executives put their thoughts and experience to arrive at a decision," said Ng. "So we needed to provide capabilities to enhance communications, and this includes virtual presence and unified communications."

Very few organizations have taken Web 2.0 technologies into their organizations, much less push it all the way up to the chairman and executive level.
Stanley Ng, eGenting

To further enhance strategic decision making through greater collaboration, DB 2.0 also incorporates Web 2.0 elements such as blogs and wikis, said Ng. Blogs are used to build conversations relating to ideas, reports and meetings, while the wiki tool captures collective intelligence on "any particular subject within the enterprise".

"When the executives need to make a decision, all they need to do is refer to the wikis…they can understand the history [and] tone of discussion that will then aid that decision-making process," he explained.

"[In addition,] we want all information and content to create meaning and not dust--the best way to do this is to allow the content to be shared in its original form," said Ng, adding that original content extended to pictures, videos, podcasts and vodcasts.

According to Ng, Genting's DB 2.0 is essentially an upgrade over 1.0 developed five years ago. It is based on Microsoft technology, tapping on the various elements of SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Exchange and Office Communication Server.

The search for a suitable platform for Genting's requirements took about a year, said Ng. "[DB 2.0] is a first-mover project; very few organizations have taken Web 2.0 technologies into their organizations, much less push it all the way up to the chairman and executive level."

Having the technology is one thing, but making sure the executives use it is another. Aware that not all the senior executives adapt well to technology, Ng said there are measures in place to counter resistance. Besides having personnel to work closely with each individual as well as their secretaries, the team also looks at providing tips and marketing the benefits of the system to motivate usage.

And, the success of the system eventually depends on the feedback of the users, said Ng. "Feedback makes users co-developers of the system. [Besides,] the concept of Web 2.0 also means that there is a philosophy of a perpetual beta, [where] a functionality [that has been put up] continues to evolve over time."

The system, he added, will be constantly kept up to date with new capabilities, while obsolete or unused functionalities will be removed.

"We believe that making our users take ownership of the system is the critical success factor," said Ng. "They will feel a sense of accountability for the success of the project--this is the best brand loyalty you can get."

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