Introducing Government 2 Using Business Social Network Solution to serv Oil Sector Best Practices
Kuwait National Petroleum Company

The Problem

Four years ago, several communities have established to share the best practices among all oil companies in the oil sector of Kuwait. The main objective of establishing these communities is to share the best practices implemented in the oil companies in Kuwait and build a network of professionals. The membership of the communities is open for all employees in oil sector of Kuwait and it is not limited to a specific job category or level. Therefore, building communication, developing professional and social relationships, synergy, and collaboration among a community members are the major challenges for achieving the community’s goals and objectives. Keeping the best practices communities productive and effective was a challenge as highlighted by the Automation Community.
It was very difficult to arrange successful productive and effective meetings and activities due to several reasons such as:
1. The difficulty to schedule meetings that suits most members schedules.
2. The challenge of utilizing the working hours to perform the community activities.
3. Members are located at different geographical locations (logistics & time management).
4. The difficulty in finding big conference rooms to accommodate all the members.
5. Communication via e-mail was found as not the right media to achieve a high level of collaboration and teamwork among community members.
6. Missing an effective structure to organize the best practices subjects.
7. Lack of a secure tool for sharing information and resources efficiently.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The solution was to implement a business social network and use it for a better communication between all the employees. The business social network will offer group creation and every employee can join the group of interest. The employee will be always updated.
The business social network will also provide messaging service between the employees. Group leader can publish photos, documents and media where the other member can download these shared media.
News can be published for all the network members to see.

The business social network was the optimum solution that popped to the surface due to two main reasons:
1. The organization readiness for the concept of social networks was already analyzed and examined thoroughly by the IT department of KNPC as mentioned earlier.
2. The objectives of the business social networks are in line with the best practices communities.
Therefore, it was obvious that using business social networks will successfully overcome most of the mentioned challenges and barriers and it will provide several benefits to the best practices communities, these are:
1. Efficient networking among professional and experts of the oil sector in Kuwait.
2. Connecting, creating, organizing and sharing best practices and information easily and quickly among all community members.
3. Saving time and effort in achieving the community objectives.
4. Accelerating collaboration and innovation among members.
5. Building and encouraging socialization and knowledge transfer among members.
6. Building and maintaining business relationships among all members.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The automation community of oil sector in Kuwait proposed the solution.
Kuwait National Petroleum Company Information Technology Department have implemented this solution. The selected solution which is based on Open Source technology has being configured and implemented in KNPC infrastructure by KNPC IT staff. The implemented solution was tested by most of the communities’ key member and there were some valuable comments as a feedback raised to enhance the solution. Finally, rolling out the introduced solution for all best practices communities was officially approved by December 2010.

The Automation Community has conducted several awareness workshops to demonstrate the business social network for all best practices communities and it has been providing the support and managing the solution. Moreover, a development environment has been built by KNPC IT department in order to test the new changes and approve them by the communities before implementing and deploying them. A total of 11 communities have established their groups in the solution and many members from different oil companies and ministries in Kuwait have registered in the business social network solution till date. Several of contributions in the context of text, images and files have been uploaded and shared via the business social network solution.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Several social networks implementations have failed due to a lack of strategy. The idea is not to only install and configure social networks software over a network and leave it for members to use. Establishing an effective strategy is a must before the implementation in order to succeed.

The “Purpose First” strategy was highly recommended to use for this project. The “Purpose First” strategy requires defining a clear business purpose for using social network prior to software installation in order to deliver and present the business values and meet the objectives the best practices communities.

In addition, limiting the scope is very important and critical in order to avoid any confusion among community members and ensure a smooth start. This critical success factor will lead to building a successful and beneficial virtual community among the oil sector of Kuwait. It was understood that narrowing the scope of the purpose in the first stage of the project is the reason behind the successful implementation of social network project. Later, users themselves will lead the path and the community will grow eventually with member’s contributions and ideas. Actually, this is what happened in the later stages as a result of implementing this strategy as it will be discussed latter in the literature.

It was obvious that the purpose should be communicated to attract the employees of the oil sector as potential members to contribute directly to the communities as members. At the same time, the culture virtual community created through the business social network should be in line with the communities existing values, believes, and norms.

The main objective of the best practices communities was clear and well defined which is to share and exchange implemented best practices among the oil sector of Kuwait. The strategy of building a virtual community was specific and clearly communicated in line with the best practices communities’ objectives. After formulating the strategy, selecting, installing, configuring, and customizing the right social network solution will be smooth and relatively an easy job to do.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The key stages in the product development were Requirements, Analysis& design, Construction, Testing and deployment. The technologies used were open source technology tools to support all the oil sector program requirements. The required solution infrastructure was built on KNPC internet platform.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
There is tough competition in the social networks market due to the fact that this market is not homogeneous. The market can be classified into two main segments, social networks Software designed for internal users communications and collaborations (such as among organization employees), and social networks software designed for external users (such as linking organization with its customers). Having a clear purpose, well defined requirements, and identifying the target audience segment will significantly help to select the best software solution that is required. Accordingly, a social networks software that was designed for the best practices communities targeting Kuwait oil sector employees was selected for.

First, it was important to look into the software hosting issue prior to the software selection decision. There were two main hosting methods which are internal hosting (on-premise at any oil sector company) and external hosting (Software as a Service model SaaS at any external third part company).

The market of social networks was thoroughly analyzed and studied and it was found that the available application solutions may be categorized into three types of products which are large vendors, small to medium vendors, and existing Sites products.

It was recommended to select a product from the second category which is small to medium vendors (open source package). The selected product was designed, customized, and configured carefully and properly in order to meet the business requirements best practices communities.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Financialy It cost us only $299 for obtaining the licens to use the open source.
Technically we use our own servers the install the social network.
Human resources were our own developers and engineers.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Yes the initiative is sustainable and transferable for the public service. The same solution is extended to use by Tarsheed Committee which is established in Electricity and Water ministry and it has members from all government ministries. They have started using this solution to meet online and to share documents. comments and images.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Social Network is the coming consolidated approach for the communications and collaborations of today’s organizations. For the next few years, it seems that technology trend is in the direction of combining all the available communications and collaboration tools and represents them through a social network platform. Therefore, it is recommended to start using this technology as a solution for some business requirements in order to achieve a competitive edge and for continuous improvement. Using social network to serve the business in the government organizations is the core of Open Government. Therefore, it is highly recommended to assess the existing initiatives of using social network in order to start put the best strategy that will serve the business successfully. Moving toward e-government 2 requires a carful strategy analysis since it will affect the information management system and the culture and structure of the organization.

It was evident that selecting the best business social network solution or software to be implemented is not a very challenging issue. The main issue or challenge is how to put a well-designed strategy to use the business social network successfully. Therefore, formulating “Purpose” strategy and focusing in the increasing the members led to build a virtual communities that will support the best practices communities to achieve its objectives. At the initial stage of building and launching the virtual community, it is recommended to put a well-defined purpose with a limited scope in order to avoid any potential confusion that may distract the users. As per Gartner, the suggested strategy should consider the social network utilization in terms of three categories which are official, professional and personal. In addition, designing a flexible business social network policy will encourage employees to participate in the virtual communities. According to Gartner, Only 20% of companies worldwide have a documented social media policy. Developing a corporate policy is very important to control the usage of social network in terms of professional and personal and it will lead to encourage employees to participate effectively in both collecting the concerned information that related to their work such as find out issues that belong to their organizations and try to resolve them ASAP and to publish the right information when they dealing with others in the virtual communities.

Engaging employees via building internal and external business communities will lead to spread the business value among them and will lead to move further toward e-government 2 concept (employee-centric). Implementing a business social networks site led to improve the performance and productivity of the best practices communities of the oil sector in and Tarsheed committee in Ministry of Electricity & Water in Kuwait . Sharing and transferring best practices among the oil sector of Kuwait is being conducted more effectively and efficiently.
Selecting the recommended method for hosting the software either inside or outside the organization depends on several factors; these are cost, IT support, and security. Based on the existing requirements of the best practices communities of the oil sector in Kuwait, it was recommended to use an open source product as the business social network solution. In addition, establishing a dedicated team to manage the business social networks activities is highly required. Finally, a well-structured marketing campaign for the purpose of encouraging employees to participate is a necessity to communicate the change.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Kuwait National Petroleum Company
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Khalid Al-Asousi
Title:   IT Department Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   +965 23209301
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   KNPC HO
Postal Code:   13001
City:   Ahmadi
State/Province:   Ahmadi
Country:   Kuwait

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