Going social at ANZ with MaxConnect

When ANZ launched its first global enterprise social network, communications programme promoted a new way of working

When ANZ launched its first global enterprise social network, it was a major step forward to achieving its goal of being a leading social-enabled enterprise in financial services. To shift behaviour and enable business success, a communications programme promoted a new way of working by being more open and social than ever before.

Image: MaxConnect poster

If you’re accustomed to getting things done in the depths of your email mailbox, taking the step to open up and work visibly can be daunting.  In an increasingly social business world, enterprise social networks (ESNs) are gathering momentum, changing the way everyone works, for the better.

Many large organisations have tools to manage the ebb and flow of lots of information. Your people will either help or hinder the flow and we've all worked with sharers, hoarders and people with styles somewhere in between.

Two years ago at ANZ we took a leap of faith when we rolled out the company's first-ever ESN, MaxConnect, to more than 55,000 of our people around the world. The good news is we turned it on and the world kept on turning.  In the meantime, the project was an outstanding success.

As workplace communications evolved, it became clear ANZ needed to become a more socially enabled business. We needed to improve the way our people interacted across geographies and businesses to solve problems, drive collaboration, improve productivity and facilitate multi-directional, authentic communication.

Fast forward in time and MaxConnect has been welcomed as a key business tool, with the communications program behind it helping to change work habits, drive adoption and ultimately deliver tangible business value for ANZ.

Today, more than 70 per cent of staff have used our ESN, connecting with peers and supporting one another to find the answers they need to do their jobs.

Tangible value

While an ESN may have been a logical step for ANZ to take at the time, it was not always an easy road to travel. We found no matter where around the globe we went when talking about the project the conversations we had with our people focused on culture.  Specifically, was ANZ ready to welcome the informal and non-hierarchical nature of enterprise social networking?

An early analysis of the enterprise social industry, other companies using enterprise social, ANZ staff surveys and focus groups showed an ESN could enable greater connectivity among our people and form a vital part of ANZ’s digital workplace.

Benchmarking research into similar companies around the world uncovered case studies demonstrating ESN use provided benefits such as productivity improvements, streamlined executive communications and problem solving, while an internal communications audit of our own showed a strong appetite for an internal social tool to help people do their work.

We knew from this legwork however simply ‘switching on’ an ESN would not be enough.  It was critical the strategy supporting the introduction of MaxConnect cause a shift encouraging our people to embrace a different way of working and generating business value – being more open and social than ever before.

At the outset, stakeholders from across ANZ’s businesses and functions were brought together to help define the use and scope of an ESN.

A change management assessment also helped uncover the impacts, issues and opportunities of introducing MaxConnect to our people. For example, we had senior leaders who understood the business case for a new way of working with enterprise social, but also doubters, worried our people would do the wrong thing.

We learned through our research community managers are integral to the success of online communities, but without enterprise social, ANZ didn't have any community managers.

While our people wanted mechanisms to enable more collaboration, there was a risk our people wouldn’t come to grips with the real benefits of MaxConnect in the face of competing priorities and workloads. Introducing our ESN was going to be an issues-rich challenge.

In the design stage of MaxConnect our internal digital communications team devised a communications program which would drive a new way to work with enterprise social focused in four areas:

  • Leveraging senior leaders across the bank as role models leading the shift towards a new way of working.
  • Establishing compelling business use cases delivering clear business value through ANZ’s use of enterprise social.
  • Creating a groundswell of support for our ESN through a network of championseducate and inspire others.
  • Building strong participation in MaxConnect and turning staff into confident users of enterprise social.

Lifting off

While we wanted to create an open and collaborative environment for our people in MaxConnect, we did take steps to establish a governance model and request process for key communities.

This was to ensure important communities were actively managed by trained community managers and operating with clear and compelling objectives. This process prevented duplication of communities, replication of ‘old’ business silos and facilitated greater collaboration.

At this stage, we also set about tapping into ANZ’s existing communication channels to recruit MaxConnect Champions.  They would act as our arms and legs on the ground, helping build enthusiasm for a new way of working right across ANZ.

With these building blocks in place, we turned our attention to training, education and planning a very social, visible launch of MaxConnect at ANZ’s head office and in our key locations around the world.

A range of training options were developed for different user groups, including an online training module for community managers, key user training sessions, FAQs, Quick Reference Guides and infographics.

A communications campaign flagged the upcoming arrival of MaxConnect. Launch events were held in more than 20 locations, including kiosks, a staff competition, all-staff email and dedicated intranet site. The roll-out of MaxConnect was progressive, making the most of existing communication channels and meetings to make it easy for our people to learn about and use the tool.

Not ‘launch and leave’

Following launch, we continued with regular training webinars and instituted a community manager education program, to encourage our people to build a habit of using MaxConnect regularly.

Ongoing communications and real success stories emphasised how incorporating the use of MaxConnect in the workday was helping our people to solve business pain points, crowdsource ideas, find experts and save time. External industry thought leaders were also engaged to provide their perspectives on the benefits of enterprise social, knowledge sharing and ‘working out loud’.

While our work is far from over, we are encouraged by the impact of enterprise social on ANZ so far.  Our people are working more visibly – a big departure from what many had been used to before the arrival of MaxConnect – and getting results fast.

Success metrics (first 12 months)



Drive at least 75% of ANZ’s senior leaders (top 200) to adopt MaxConnect as a new way of working: engaging socially with their people.

• 87% of ANZ’s top 200 leaders active on MaxConnect.

To ensure 60% of communities of practice established by community managers in MaxConnect have: clear business objectives linked to driving tangible business value; and are public (open to all ANZ staff).

• 100% of community managers completed online training

• 100% of all communities established on MaxConnect have clear business objectives.

•80% of communities on MaxConnect are public, showing increased confidence in staff working more openly.

To ensure at least 60% of frontline online communities are among the top 10 performing communities in MaxConnect.

• 100% of frontline communities are in the top 10 most active communities on MaxConnect.

To work with ANZ’s Group Communication Network (GCN) to drive a shift towards a social way of working by encouraging at least 50% of all ANZ staff to participate in MaxConnect in the first 12 months, in line with vendor adoption averages.

• 100% of GCN staff registered on MaxConnect (85 people).

• More than 70% of all ANZ staff registered on MaxConnect (against vendor adoption averages target of 50% participation in the first 12 months).

• 14% of staff participate at least once per month (against vendor adoption averages target of 10% user activity levels in the first 12 months).

Deliver business value through problem solving in MaxConnect, with one answer provided for every question asked, and all questions answered within 48 hours of posting.

2.4 answers on average provided for every question asked.

7 answers on average provided for every question in most active community: Australian Branch Network.

•Questions answered within 16 hours: 32 hours faster than target.

69% of staff found an answer they found useful on MaxConnect (Communications Audit survey results Dec 2016). •Quantifiable business benefit delivered in time saved based on The Community Roundtable ROI method.

User feedback

“It’s amazing to see how widely posts have been shared. We’re able to answer questions publicly, while also hearing suggestions and gauging how we could refine our communication, and even our Max (intranet) pages.” – Head of Brand Experience, ANZ

“Organisational change managers across the globe are a diverse, often disconnected group who work in their own teams and geographies and have never before had a way to come together and share common practices, challenges, or to share successes”. – Change Manager, Technology, ANZ

“It’s amazing how many questions get asked on MaxConnect and the beautiful thing about this is that it’s driven a lot of interconnectivity. So people are asking questions in one part of the country and other people are answering those questions – the cross learning that’s going on has been really powerful. It’s not a matter of just a normal chain of command, it’s whole conversations and communities working together, which has been really great”. General Manager, Retail Distribution.

The fear of ESNs – worrying people will waste time, wondering how we control what's posted and so on – is linked to a fear of change and the unknown.

If you're thinking of launching an ESN, it's best to spend a lot of time talking to people about the benefits of ESNs and your plans. Don't skirt around the issues – deal with the specific fears people hold. Above all, don't relax and think the job’s done with the introduction of the ESN platform. In fact, it's just the start of the hard work to help people take the leap and discover a new way of working, step by step.

Rita Zonius

Rita Zonius is head of internal digital communications at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, one of the world's top 50 banks. Currently Rita leads ANZ's internal digital communications team, established in 2015 to support ANZ to realise the business benefits of enterprise social technologies, including driving a collaborative and engaged culture across ANZ’s workforce of around 60,000 staff globally. Rita has more than 20 years' experience in corporate communications, leading and inspiring teams of communication professionals to mobilise employees around business priorities and demonstrate to external stakeholders how organisational strategy delivers value for customers and shareholders.