Danish car dealer gets social business on the road

Skjermbilde 2013-08-06 kl. 14.47.33When the danish car dealer Semler Group reorganized their business, they found that a social business solution would get them up to speed. They chose IBM Connections to get on the road!

Semler Group is Denmark’s leading importer of Audi, SEAT, SKODA, Volkswagen and Porsche vehicles. Based in Copenhagen, it employs 1,500 people, operates 17 car dealerships, and works with a network of 130 other independent dealerships across the country.

A complex corporate reorganization exercise led Semler Group’s C-level executives to realize that the company needed a better way of collaborating and sharing information. Their executive support for cultural change is now driving the adoption of new collaboration tools, including IBM Connections and OnTime Group Calendar software, a social scheduling solution. This solution in combination enables the creation of flexible communities to share and manage information. It also enables users to identify and connect with experts across the business and simplifies scheduling for meetings within communities.

Challenges with social software

– We have been users of IBM Collaboration Solutions software for many years, and we believe it offers a comprehensive suite of capabilities for helping our users work together productively – whether they are at headquarters or out in the dealerships, says Thomas Hansen, Department Manager at Semler IT.

– The challenge, though, with collaboration is not really the technology. It’s with the corporate culture. Just as getting people to adopt email 20 years ago was difficult, it’s the same with social business software. It’s obvious that sharing a document within a community in IBM Connections is much more efficient than sending it to people by email – but only if people are actually willing to use Connections. If they don’t use it, they won’t receive the document, and the whole process breaks down.

Until adoption achieves critical mass, it can be difficult to prove the benefits of social software to users within the business – and many companies are finding out the hard way that their social software projects are taking longer than anticipated to get off the ground.

Successful adoption strategies

Semler Group, however, believes it has found a solution to drive adoption across its business: enthusiastic buy-in from its C-level executives is helping to encourage other employees to use IBM Connections.

– In some ways, it was a stroke of luck, comments Hansen. – Our whole business had gone through a very complex reorganization exercise that involved most of the C-level executives. The reorganization generated large amounts of documentation, which our executives were sharing by email. Sending files back and forth reduced transparency and made version control very difficult.

– To make matters worse, without an easy way to check availability and schedule meetings, answering even simple questions about which version of a document was current, or who should be responsible for making updates, was a time-consuming process.

– So when our IT team proposed IBM Connections and OnTime Group Calendar, and demonstrated how much easier the whole process would have been with a proper document-sharing and social scheduling solution in place, we had a very receptive audience!

Gaining executive support

After some trial projects, the IT team decided to continue to base its adoption strategy on senior-level support. The first users of IBM Connections and OnTime Group Calendar would be a community of the C-level executives themselves, enabling them to collaborate effectively with each other, and also to share information more widely with other employees as and when they become users of the solution.

Jens Overgaard Dinesen, Chief Executive Officer of IntraVision, the IBM Business Partner that supports the Semler IT team, comments:

– We’re convinced that Semler Group is taking the right approach by driving adoption from the top down. We’ve seen the success of this strategy in other companies – for example, where senior leaders publish information to communities, it tends to be read and absorbed by other employees much more readily than an email communication would be. This is partly because the social aspects of communities make the employees feel closer to the executives, and give them a chance to interact and provide feedback.

– We’re combining the top-down approach of having our executives act as evangelists for social business with the bottom-up approach of showing our colleagues how much simpler it is to share files, find people within the business who can help them, and create new communities for specific projects. We are confident that this rollout of IBM Connections and OnTime Group Calendar will be a success for the Semler Group, Hansen concludes.

Source: IBM & Intravision


  1. Arne,

    I really do have an issue will all this hype about social business. Cause in a recent survey 92% of respondents said that they used email marketing to share new of new products and services. this same survey found that e-mail has the biggest of the Marketing budget at 15%, followed by Events/Trade shows at 14% and Person to Person contact at 13%. Social Media 8%. The source of this info is Edge Research.

    But the bottom line is this, social media is PART of the MIX but it is not the solution. AS A SINGLE CHANNEL, social will deliver very little in terms of ROI. Here’s the good news, as part of a coordinated program (where social feeds email, and seo, and online ads) social media can be the “accelerant” that takes your ho hum program into something worth cheering for. But that’s the long story. The short story is this.

    1. Facebook ROI is some of the biggest mythology in online marketing
    2. Twitter as a lead or demand generation tool is greatly exaggerated
    3. Google Analytics can not tell you why visitors to your site chose to buy or not buy your product
    4. The entire mix of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogging, LinkedIn) still only accounts for 8% of the marketing budget

    And the next piece of logic is this. If you are a social media strategist, you are expected to make that 8% jump through hoops, perform miracles, AND deliver ROI (which you must demonstrate with excel driven accuracy). It can be done. Well, part of it can be done. But without the total ONLINE MARKETING MIX working together, it’s like Tweeting randomly into the cavernous world of social media. You MIGHT get a RT or a tweetback response. But you are unlikely to get anything resembling success.

    So any company that is dropping there e-mail as you appear to suggest that they do is fooling them selves. e-mail will be a key tool in the corporate sector for many many years to come.


    1. When I talk about social business I do not talk about social media. What I talk about is how to use social technologies to improve productivity and knowledge sharing INSIDE a company. Social Media on the outside of the company does not interest me that much, though it could be useful (to a certain degree) be useful as a marketing tool for companies that want to communicate with ordinary private users – like retail. My opinion is that it has not much effect that a person likes your product on, for instance, Facebook, but does not buy it. You have to take people from liking to buying.

      Now to email: Yes email will never disappear, like we still have phones. But do we still use faxes? Hardly…

      What I talk about is that email is not as effective communication tool as we like to believe. Sending a message from me to you to share knowledge does not help all the other friends we have inside a company. By sharing knowledge in the open (on the inside of the company) makes knowledge sharing and communication more effective. Seeing that a person is online and available and chat or call directly is more effective than sending an email and wait for an answer – or make call after call until the person picks up the phone.

      More and more companies are trying to reduce internal use of mail, but off course they need it for external communication. Myself I have reduced email by nearly 80 % and have at maximum five email in my inbox at end of office hours. Why? Because I delete all cc: mail without reading them. Because I tell people not to send me internal email, but share there dialogues on internal open social media or in closed collaboration communities in the cloud. Because I do not send email if I can use a faster tool like chat or phone. And instead of sending information to internal mailing lists – I share in an open internal community so everybody can learn from the dialogue.

      Talking about social business is – to me – talking about using social technologies to make your daily work easier, faster, smoother and more enjoyable.

      Social Media? Well – I have a Facebook account – but honestly: – If you have 2.000 “friends” on Facebook – do you believe they will all come to your funeral?


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