Reference story Kawasaki – IBM Connections

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In conversation with Frank Barendsma – ICT Manager at Kawasaki Motors Europe N.V. about the implementation of Kawasaki Connect with IBM Connections as intranet and communication platform.

IBM Connections at Kawasaki?

As an international player in the world of motorcycles and with multiple branches in Europe, Kawasaki Motors is constantly in search for better forms of communication. A few years ago, the R&D department began the search for a new platform to improve the communication within the company. They already worked with IBM Cognos and, from this perspective, we thought of IBM Connections as the best option to satisfy the organizational needs.

When did you start thinking about changing how you communicate within the organisation?

The IT team currently responsible for IBM Connections, inherited the project from a colleague who has now retired. This resulted in a new start, with a new approach: “Introduce IBM Connections slowly, in small steps and see how the organization reacts.” The introduction of a Bulletin Board System (BBS) helped us to introduce IBM Connections. This is a good method.

R&D had picked it up, but never successfully. With this knowledge, a new pilot was set up in which the KPIs were clearly defined. The implementation started with the Bulletin Board System (BBS). Where information was shared within the organization, fed from IBM Connections. Stories like successes during Motorcycle Grand Prix, but also HR reports of interest to employees and organisation.

Was there resistance within the organization?

At first there was resistance, as is common with change. Connections was compared to Facebook. There were reactions like “Are we getting another system?” and there was also fear, because … “Now everyone can see what I am doing!”.

“The biggest challenge was user adoption of Kawasaki Connect.” I am pretty stubborn and was convinced that people would automatically understand that they should use it, I was wrong!”

What really helped you?

Before the introduction of IBM Connections, various pilots were started and within these pilots the success factors were examined. During the pilots the same questions were asked (questions also raised during the session with Silverside). For instance: “What processes do you use?”, “What do you want to achieve?” and “Go and see where you can deploy IBM Connections and convince the management with KPIs”. This is where the real adoption process for IBM Connections began.

“The Silverside method helped us convince people not to fall back into their old way of working”.

When did you decide to launch IBM Connections?

After the first successes, the Champions within Kawasaki Connect acted as ambassadors for the platform. The first success was achieved through file sharing and in particular around the Rotation Schedule. This is an important document that makes it clear which motorcycles are at the different shows throughout Europe. Where at first – in the old-fashioned way – a document was first emailed to all branches, IBM Connections is now used to keep track of everything. There is a lot of communication around this document, so updated and correct data is fundamental.

IBM Connections

“The Silverside methodology allowed us to convince several groups to adopt IBM Connections.”

After this step, were there other trials and successes?

After the pilots, people became curious and resistance was turned into interest. The fear disappeared and there was success during various training sessions. This also created a need for extra training. By this time the Marketing department had also started with IBM Connections. It became obvious that there was room for improvement, specifically with file management. During the training sessions you actually saw people catching on.



The next step was logical: discover other applications for the platform and try to get more people on board. HQ – the head office in the Netherlands – took the lead, but we had to get all countries (branches) connected? Specific training could be the solution. There were case studies available and we had to use these to make IBM Connections transparent and to show the added value. We noticed that Video training was not effective, so there was a need for more live sessions. The impact of a Video training was simply ineffective.

The Netherlands is clearly a forerunner, but in other European countries things are going slower than we would like. This is mainly due to the hierarchical culture, old habits and the laws and regulations that apply to the organization. This is our next challenge. Especially when it comes to sharing knowledge and expertise. IBM Connections must make this possible for us.

“Do not put energy into people who do not want to work as the Rogers Curve prescribes – the 16% laggards will always try to find a reason not to participate.”

Silverside's Rogers Adoption Curve

Like every IT department, we also have our challenges. The ‘not invented by me syndrome’ and ‘because it runs on a computer is probably IT’ combined with questions like “How many hours a day are you working with IBM Connections?” have made us realize that the use of the Silverside methodology has helped us to further develop our new way of collaboration.

“It is up to you to decide which tools you want to use. 1-on-1? Use IBM Sametime. Working with a team? Then work in IBM Connections!”

What was the low point in the process?

If we had focused on adapting the behaviour within the organization sooner, we would have been able to accelerate the lead time of the pilots and adoption. This is something that we will take with us in the next challenge.
After the turning point – perhaps a little setback – you gain knowledge. What was your goal, your vision? Are there still major obstacles ahead or is there a final challenge?

Kawasaki’s goal is to first connect all departments in the Netherlands and then share this success with Europe. In every country there is a champion to promote the platform and we need these ambassadors to make Kawasaki Connect an international success. This will be done by sharing success stories with others.

“We have only really been active for a year, and after three years it feels like we are almost there. Adoption of the platform has begun, thanks to the training. We have to stay on top of it as a team. Everyone is busy – so we all have little time. ”

Looking back at the project, how do you feel?

Literally: “like there is a light at the end of the tunnel”. The new way of working is also paying off. New employees are immediately introduced to the new method. The Silverside Work Agreement is used for different purposes, as a guide, think of:

  • What problem are we going to solve?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Which tools do you want to use?
  • For which group do you do this?
  • ‘Stop doing and start with’ scenarios.

What would you do differently?

If we started the process again, we would have more patience. Start with the same enthusiasm, but look also at the right methodology. Be more convincing internally and support others. Sometimes I have to control my enthusiasm. We invested a lot in the buy-in and approval of senior management to create more awareness. The buy-in of the users is far more important.

“Find ambassadors to make adoption possible. Short but powerful: More bottom-up than top-down management style. Finding ambassadors is crucial to gain support. “

What kind of possibilities do you see for ‘bots’?


Chat Bot


The progress of bots is unstoppable. It is just a matter of time before we start working with them. With the speed at which things are going now, we also have to make choices. Before you complete something, technology overtakes you.
“Pick your battles” Bots might close the gap? We just don’t know yet. At the moment we have other challenges. We are curious about bots, or I certainly am. The thought that our Rotation Schedule will automatically update and be distributed on the basis of GPS signals from the motorcycles, makes me really happy. But maybe that’s too much to ask … or maybe not?

In the short-term? Measuring the mood within the organization? People check a weather app to see what the weather is, but what are the expectations within the organization? Is it an automated bulletin board (BBS). Currently we still rely on people to fill the system with information, but of course it would be brilliant if this could be automated based on personal interests.

And … if I do not have to do anything for it, then it’s even better. It must have a low-threshold! I can’t wait to see how it all works out!

You can also read about the digital workplace of the smallest bank in the Netherlands.