In 2012, Cap Gemini, the consultancy that employs over 140,000 people, decided to go "fully digital" for their branding. They created a programme called Expert Connect which addressed the need that "Capgemini’s position as an authority and influencer is dependent on the ability of its experts to be heard by existing and potential clients."
Many things are interesting about the approach Cap Gemini took, not least that they started at the very top with a group of high-level, influential personalities. This approach tends to be successful because it establishes the importance of the project to the organisation, it shows that some of the most time-pressured people in the business "make time", to participate and, perhaps most importantly, it creates scarcity - making participation in the programme an honour, not a chore.
The need they identified is commonplace, consultancies typically have many experts with deep domain expertise but demonstrating that online in a coherent manner is a huge challenge. Indeed in our research, we have found that experts in Professional Services post on average less than once a year - definitely not sufficient to build a reputation.
Cap Gemini have now widened the programme as detailed below with demonstrable Return on Investment.
Since its implementation two years ago, the programme has grown to include over 900 experts online across 40 business themes including digital customer engagement, mobility, cloud and big data, each updated on a regular basis, with 23 countries currently represented. Thanks to its members, the programme allows Capgemini to reach a targeted business audience of 161,000 followers on Twitter, having engaged in over 835,556 discussions. Cumulative LinkedIn connections have totaled 605,000 with over 2800 posts to date. By the end of 2015 Capgemini expects Expert Connect to have more than 1000 active members and for it to be an established social selling programme. Over a third of the members have been involved in direct lead generation and the programme has even resulted in contract agreements generating an estimated income of around €6 million in 2014