The launcing of the Ice Cube was indeed an innovation, since the development and management was carried by a small team within the Business Development Group using only available resource in the Company.
Indosat is a publik company, dual listed in the New York Stock Exchange (code: IIT) and in the Indonesian Stock Exchange (code: ISAT.JK).
Our vision is “To be the customers’ preferred choice for all information and communication needs”.
We are now has becoming a fully integrated telecommunications network and service provider in Indonesia, the second-largest cellular operator with more than 40 million subscribers, the leading provider of international long-distance services (IDD) and the leading data communications and Internet service provider in Indonesia.
Indosat involvement in telecommunication industry has a long history, started 1967 as a foreign investment company in international satellite business then transformed to became the leading International Direct Dialling Operator and finally became a cellular carrier. In addition to that, we have been able to sustain in major shareownerhip changing, as private company, state own company and also as the public own company.
The overview of Ice Cube Team
The Ice Cube team is composed of several independent non-structural members in the Business Development Group. Our job is to explore new ideas from internal & external sources to tap innovation opportunities which may contribute to Indosat’s future sustainability
- The intense competition on Indonesia cellular business (matured voice and SMS services) and the convergence of the telecommunication business, that require Indosat to embrace to the next S curve
- Based on several transformation experience, the Company was fully aware that the “knowledge is the king” as to sustain, and the innovation should be created anywhere within the Company
- The rapid changes in the telecommunication industry is creating the “knowledge gap” among the employee in any level and function
- The shifting in innovation paradigm that the effort and the resource should be focused in gathering & diseminating information as much as possible
- The Company was spending money and resources in developing and promoting other intranet portal without having significant result
- The Company was looking for a better tool to manage the internal knowledge and innovation
- We finally identify that the existing portal has the following problems: too formal, unclear value, not user friendly, and not interactive
a. Portal Design
After we have identified the problem, we then challenged ourselves to make a better solution. We started the brainstorming session, and below are the initial proposal of the new intranet portal
- The Blog and Forum are most suitable media for both the company and employee’s personal interest
- We called the portal as the “Ice Cube” instead of using the “Innovation Center” as to avoid formal atmosphere perception
- The tagline of this portal is “Shaping Our Liquid Talk” means that we valued a constructive - open discussion
- The membership is using opt in scheme. Employee free to join or leave the communities, they also has the right to interact anonymously
b. Portal Development
We have no budget to develop the portal, therefore we should look for the best possible free or very low cost platform. We then picked up the open source platform as the final choice, i.e. the Wordpress MU + Buddy Press for the Network Blog and PHPbb for the Forum. Because the bottom up nature of the initiative, then we have to depend on one team member that has sufficient IT skill, as the rest of the team only know how to make “Hello Word” using PHP. Some of us then become the willy nilly learnt to be IT guy.
Next we have to find the server. After hunting to several division, finally we could use a suitable low-end server to host the site, without any additional cost.
January – February : Pre- Launch
If your boss was asking you to sell the product but he didn’t give you any marketing budget, then what would you do? Doing Email spamming?, absolutely this is not the option. We decided to do a direct sales. We started selling the portal to our colleagues one by one, both offline and online. We requested time to several function both in the headquarter and branch office to let us present our portal on their routine meeting. The result was not bad, we got more than 200 members in two months
March : Launch
On March 2010 we officially launched the platform by ‘piggybacking’ an internal portals event. The event, which managed in collaboration with other divisions, successfully create awareness on our portal. Provided with a very low budget (even our Division Head is using his own money to buy some ice cream), we decided to create our own merchandise (yes we literally create the merchandise by ourselves!). The merchandise was a nice and creatively designed ice cube in a transparent cup.
August – December : Socialization
As we start getting attention from employee and middle management, then our portal popularity has rose “slow but sure”. We took this momentum to accelerate the employee involvement. Furthermore, we finally got the budget for marketing activities (not big, but enough). Though our portal is online community, we approached “the market “ using online-offline marketing program. Some of the program that we conducted are the member get member competition, the blogging competition, and the offline blogger gathering. In each program we tried to insert several new and funny things such as : referral system, popular vote, free blogging, online door-prize, online chat among the member.
In March 2011, one year after the official launch, our portal got acknowledgment from top management. It become the corporate initiatives to nurture innovation as one of our company culture.
We launched “Blog Adjacent Market” providing information and discussion about intelligence, insight, and innovation on the Information and Communication Technology business that close or near our company core business. The objective is to educate and prepare the internal company for the next S curve.
We used the portal also to socialize and promote our group project. We also worked together with regional sales to use blog as communication media between sales area. The idea is the real experience or success stories that published on every sales area blog that could be shared and learnt by other sales area.
Solution :The solution is by createing an IT platform using any available resource. We are using an used server (until now), open source platform for the application engine, and we did all the implementation by ourselves with only one IT-background person on our team.
Challenge 2 : The employee raising doubt on the promise of ‘free to speak’ on the community
Solution :We continuously build awareness of the open culture by having a direct discussion or roadshow to many department and branches, supported by an Interoffice memo from HR
Challenge 3 : Started as a bottom-up approached project, we don’t have a strong acknowledge from top level management
Solution :There is no other option on getting more exposure from management than ask them directly. So, we continuously inform them of the until someday we got a glimpse of hope when the Board of Commissioner asking about the Company initiative on the innovation. It was a great boost to our community and in the end, after many approaches and lobbies, Ice Cube finally became a corporate initiative.
Challenge 4 :There was a barrier of technology on using our platform. Even though our company considered as a technology company, many of the employee sees blog and forum as a new thing. Therefore, just making sure that the platform is used is a challenge.
Solution :We sees the technology barrier right before we launched the portal. That’s why we tried our best to make our platform is as easy as possible, leaving the complexity behind. We even created a training program to several department on how to use our platform, technically.
Challenge 5 :Most users saw that there was no clear follow ups on posted ideas
Solution : Lack of follow up is a result of the lack of support from top management. However, we tried so hard to make every ideas worth with a follow up. Our last attempt was to collaborate with the Regional Sales Department to create official initiatives to share branches success story and then duplicate the result nationwide, this will hopefully and eventually create a better innovation environment.
- Some of employees who are previously hesitate or don’t know where to “speak” use the portal to express their opinion or their idea. All employee from different level/grade across function now can play on the same field. The portal act as the shortcut of traditional communication chain
- Convert the tacit knowledge to explicit. Several members use their blog for documenting the work. The beauty is the ownership of the work still prevail
- Sharing knowledge, practical working experience and idea among employee
- Employee learn to create good writing and take critique from others
- Increasing awareness of insight , intelligence and innovation on adjacent business
- Continuous discussion happened on the portal
- We got useful feedback from communities for sharpening our group project. Two heads are better than one, right
- Some members are identified has potency to become the innovation activist
Quantitative (in 1.5 years) :
- 969 registered member
- 839 blogs, 1910 articles published
- 12,000+ comments
- 5 special community blogs
- 113 activists
- Total budget spent : $3,400
- We believe that the journey is still long or even it could be never ending story. However something should be done. There is a quote from Sun Tzu that always inspires our team : “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Whether the web or management will evolve to 3.0, 4.0 … we should always adapt the changes to survive
Small differences can make big change
- I love this quote personally. Indosat is big company, and when you are big you usually miss or ignore little thing. But we have shown that if you focus on little things it can make big difference. The idea to create blog and forum isn’t so special but, we design the portal in detail to fit the needs of the employee and organization