Published on 16 Nov 2015
“ We decided that IBM Connections was the best because it had a wealth of functions but could also be customized so that in the beginning it could be used with just the required minimal functionality. ”
Mayumi Watanabe,Yamato Financial's Management Strategy Division
Yamato Financial Co., Ltd.
Yamato Financial Co., Ltd., which engaged in the payment service business of Yamato Group (hereafter, Yamato Financial), which handles the payment service business for the Yamato Group, has introduced an in-company social networking service (SNS) named "Chietter" with IBM Connections as a foundation. This setting up of an information sharing system across business activity areas, for which there previously was no reliable method, promoted the sharing of the kind of know-how that otherwise tends to be known only by individuals. Yamato Financial, following the directions of their top management, developed various ways to promote the use of the system, and took advantage of its "praise each other, raise each other" culture to establish the system throughout the company. In the future, they aim to contribute even more to their business achievements by improving the quality of communication.
Creating an environment for intracompany information-sharing in which all employees can voluntarily participate Yamato Financial, whose main business is payment services in conjunction with the Takyubin and Kuroneko delivery services for mail-order business agents who use the internet and catalogs, provides various payment methods such as COD, credit card, electronic money, payments at convenience stores, and internet banking, while matching the consumer's lifestyle and satisfying today's needs. In the mail-order business market, the goal is not only to be supported by the salespersons but also to be accepted by the end users who make purchases, and Yamato Financial is working on expanding services that are reliable, safe, and convenient. What they strongly desired in order to achieve this goal was the sharing of business know-how. Yamato Financial had established 70 offices in 10 areas throughout Japan, to develop a business that was closely related to local areas, but the opportunities for communication across areas were limited, so that the information sharing was insufficient. Ms. Tomomi Suto of Yamato Financial's Management Strategy Division looks back on that time as follows. "Once each month, the top management from all the areas gathered for a meeting to report on business conditions, but the projects included in the agenda were limited. The information obtained by local salespersons was even more meager, and there were almost no chances for exchanging opinions with other areas or with headquarters. Not just for business matters, but also with regard to items such as simplifying office procedures and reducing costs, there was almost no information sharing between areas." The payment business handled by Yamato Financial is growing, not just for consumers (B to C) but also for payments for shipments between businesses (B to B), and what is needed is a greater "ability to propose" solutions that combine the best forms of various payment methods while taking into account customer needs. Ms. Suto says, "It was necessary to share the know-how that was known only to a portion of the salespersons, to try to raise the minimum skill level across the entire company." In May, 2012, actions to solve this problem started quickly. President and Representative Director Toshizo Kurisu provided the concept of "let's establish and use an environment of in-company information sharing in which all employees can voluntarily participate". The goal was for each individual employee to publish their own success cases and failure stories in order to share them on a company-wide scale and increase the number of business matters that they understood. Toward that end, the idea was to take advantage of the "praise each other, raise each other" culture that had already taken root in the Yamato Group in order to improve employee motivation and create a system of high productivity.
A big assumption was that employees, having different IT literacies, could start from the same line. In July, 2012, Yamato Financial set up project teams throughout the company and began investigations into items such as the selection of an IT tool to promote information sharing, usage methods, and operating rules. What emerged out of that was the movement toward an incompany SNS. Mayumi Watanabe of Yamato Financial's Management Strategy Division says the following. "As the result of many discussions about how to implement real-time information sharing, we started to focus on an SNS like Twitter or Facebook in which one could share one's thoughts freely. In particular, we thought that we absolutely must have within the company a system that made it possible to easily participate in a conversation with a single click, similar to a 'Like!' button." Yamato Financial decided to introduce IBM Connections at the end of October, 2012, as the foundational software to realize this idea. Ms. Watanabe says, "When we did a comparative study of the packages developed by our company and by other companies, what we emphasized most was a tool that would make it possible for employees with different IT literacies to start at the same line. We decided that IBM Connections was the best because it had a wealth of functions but could also be customized so that in the beginning it could be used with just the required minimal functionality." In addition, Mr. Yusuke Shibata, who works as the Information Systems Manager for Yamato Financial, continued as follows: "One reason for our decision was the possibility of introduction in a short time. Top management, who considered speed to be important, gave instructions that 'we do it, get it working as quickly as possible, in three to four weeks', and IBM responded to our needs. They made IBM Connections work in the IBM Cloud Infrastructure Service, and realized the introduction in a short time. (It now works in SoftLayer.)" The in-company SNS of Yamato Financial, which started formal operations on November 29, 2012, the anniversary of the founding of the Yamato Group, was named "Chietter", which combines the meanings of "simple twittering and gathering knowledge ['chie'] within the company". The functions that were narrowed down with the goal that "even employees who are not familiar with IT can operate it intuitively" included "blogs","forums", and "files";. In addition to using the flexible customizability of IBM Connections to turn off other functions, they also changed the names to make things easier to understand, such as changing blogging to "knowledge seeds", forums to "teach me YFC", and files to "YFC resource center", when they rolled it out. Ms. Suto explained the following about how it was modified. "No matter how simple the operation, if it was called 'blogs' and 'forums' then that alone would have lost the intuitiveness. Naming is important in the sense of clearly showing the purpose of use, so the fact that the specification could be flexibly changed at the system level was extremely helpful."
- As a package in which required features are provided all-in-one for business applications, the service can be launched quickly. - Users can customize the interface, such as changing the name or changing the menu, displaying only the features they want to use, so that they can utilize the software intuitively. Once users become familiar with usage, it will enable them to expand operation by adding more convenient functions. - If it is on-premise, it can be held in-house including the data. In a way other than taking advantage of API that has been published, add-ons will be possible to develop.
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
Collaboration Solutions (ICS) - Social Collaboration & Digital Experience - Employee Digital Experience, Social Business Framework, Social Business for Expertise and Knowledge
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