Walmart Built One of the World’s Largest Intranets. When COVID-19 Hit, It Became One of its Most Important Assets
Image source: Adobe Stock / Andrei.
by Loni Stark
posted on 07-08-2020
Prior to 2016, Walmart had two disparate intranet solutions deployed: “WalmartOne”, a single source of important employee information for associates when they were at home, and “the WIRE”, for directional and operational information when folks were on-the-clock. As the team mapped out the vision for a single, unified intranet through “OneWalmart” (its internal moniker), they had the good foresight of considering how people’s relationship with technology was rapidly changing.
What the Walmart team came to realize was that many of the same expectations people developed for consumer services like eCommerce, would extend to the workplace as well. The next chapter of OneWalmart, would need to be built with this in mind. It would become a true Intranet for the digital age, one driven by analytics, personalized to individuals and made visually engaging. Built on a novel use of Adobe Experience Manager, thousands of content authors were empowered to communicate with employees.
Graphic from “one.walmart.com”.
Today, OneWalmart serves a global community of over 2 million people. Whether at work or at home, any employee can access what they need to feel supported, informed and armed to do their job effectively. And while having an Intranet with a good reputation amongst the workforce is an important asset for any company, it becomes vital in times of crisis.
“Like a Rubik’s Cube”
OneWalmart was built with the same regard for customer experience as any external property. For starters, it was personalized based on the nature of an employee’s role (important for a company that employs everyone from store associates and data scientists, to mechanics and marketers). Each of these people have a unique need when they log on, and the Intranet has the ability to recognize that. It can also shift the experience, to fulfill a request that happens on-the-clock versus one occurring at home.
Features on the user end, from an AI-driven chat bot to robust search functionalities, are iterated over time to ensure that employees get what they need as quickly as possible. Dedicated content teams curate company-wide information, while a cadre of more than 2000 authors create micro-sites for individual teams and departments. Adobe Sensei helps keep some of this organized, with AI that tags any visual asset so that it is searchable in the future. All of this is supported with analytics, to keep a pulse on what is working and what is not.
Graphic from “one.walmart.com”.
Several years of development and refinement made it so that when COVID-19 arrived, the company was prepared. There was one central destination that was already widely used and could be the main gateway for the company’s response. The task of keeping employees up to date (including 1.6 million store associates) was likened to that of a Rubik’s Cube; Different needs for specific roles had to also align with policies and guidance that varied on a statewide and citywide basis.
In quick order, changes to store policies, details on office closures and more were cascaded across the company. Content authors who had been previously empowered to deliver information, had a platform where they could do so quickly. OneWalmart, also accessible externally, made it so that information was always easy to access. The team then tapped analytics, to ensure they kept a pulse on engagement and content efficacy, as well as notable changes in search patterns.
According to Steve Wilson, Director of Digital Strategy and Brand Engagement: “For any company, there is a longstanding notion that teams have to move at the speed of the business world. For Walmart, while this is true, we also had to move at the speed of our social landscape. We operate at a scale that effectively pushed us to reimagine what an Intranet could be for an organization. It has given OneWalmart incredible resiliency, regardless of what happens in the business or in the broader world around us.”
And from Paul Bucalo, Director of Enterprise Content and Search: “OneWalmart has become an incredible tool for us to keep employees engaged and democratize the creation of content. However, building that was a pretty tall order from a technical perspective. We were able to use Adobe Experience Manager in a novel and interesting way, integrating it also with a myriad of other technologies from a clocking system to user authentication. The platform was effective in matching the scale of our organization, while delivering the speed and flexibility we needed. The cost savings and efficiency gains were notable as well.”
With over 1 million unique visitors every month, OneWalmart has become a daily habit for many employees. It is a destination for things like work schedules and benefits, but also to showcase employee stories, resources for community impact work, and more. It shows that when built properly, an Intranet can be more than just a storehouse for documents and PowerPoints; It can provide a sense of stability and helps ensure that in times good and bad, employees always feel informed and engaged.
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Topics: Retail, COVID-19