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CIO Perspectives: Q&A with The Washington Post’s Yuvi Kochar

By February 6, 2012Article

Editor’s Note: In our continuing series on CIO perspectives, Yuvi Kochar at The Washington Post shares insights on pitfalls to avoid in leveraging social media technologies and his advice to companies on how they can improve end-user adoption of collaboration platforms. What were your top three to five lessons learned while leveraging collaboration technologies?  
Yuvi Kochar: We launched a new communication and collaboration platform serving approximately 9,000 employees in Q4 2011 and have plans to roll it out to a total of 28,000 employees. While we are in the early stages of deploying the solution, we have learned that the most significant barrier to success for a collaboration platform is engagement. A few lessons from our short experience with the platform include:

  • In addition to sponsoring the project, it is important for the leadership team to embrace the solution. A clear demonstration of ongoing support by participation helps raise the visibility and acceptance of the solution within the organization.
  • Ensure that there are clearly articulated and measurable business drivers for the project.
  • Deliver functionality that makes the platform relevant within the context of the daily jobs of the participants.
  • Invest adequate resources to seed initial content and ensure ongoing care and feeding and user support for the platform. A passionate Community Administrator is imperative for success.
  • Ease of use is very important. Having experienced popular consumer social sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), users get quickly frustrated if the platform is not intuitive and easy to use. How important is the corporate culture in building a collaborative environment?
Yuvi Kochar: Collaboration must be a good cultural fit for the organization. Success of the initiative is possible only in an environment with engaged members, openness and trust. Now that you’ve successfully rolled out the collaboration platform, what are your next objectives?
Yuvi Kochar: We are now focused on developing motivation, recognition and rewards programs to drive engagement. We are also enhancing the engagement measurement to help identify what works and what does not work. What could software vendors do to help your company improve end-user experiences/adoption with their products?
Yuvi Kochar: Historically, enterprise software vendors have not been very focused on user experience. However, with the increasing adoption of SaaS products within the enterprise, I am seeing a significant improvement in the user experience of technology used by our employees. It is common for SaaS vendors to invest in making their products user friendly and supporting mobile devices, etc. This has forced developers of on-premise products and technologies to take ease of use more seriously.
Some of the most significant customizations we have made to our ERP solution are in the area of User Interface. To continue to remain viable, I expect enterprise software vendors to focus on improving the user experience.
Further, a significant improvement to user experience can be delivered by integrating multiple tools employees use within a single portal and workflow. This requires products to support standards-based integration functionality. How is the role of the CIO changing in your company? What is driving the change?
Yuvi Kochar: To effectively respond to the increasing pace of business change and innovation, IT must be completely embedded in the business with a seamless partnership. This partnership is necessary for the business to transform its products and services and remain competitive. The CIO must be a true partner in proposing solutions that help the business move quicker and be more flexible and must push architectures that have a longer-term view than business people would be able to envision and create.
To overcome the challenges ahead of us, architectures need to be more flexible and IT more agile. I am transforming my organization and product suite to become “Embedded IT.”
The rate of change in the business environment and consumer technology is driving this transformation. What is the last interesting book you read?
Yuvi Kochar: “Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson. I started my career in IT right when personal computers were being launched in the 1980s. The first program I wrote was on an Apple IIe. The book provides great insight on how Steve used his unique gift of marrying technology and design to create beautiful, easy-to-use powerful technology products that are a huge global success.
Yuvi Kochar, as the corporate CTO, constantly evaluates business opportunities and threats presented by new technologies to the diverse businesses of The Washington Post Company. He collaborates with business and technology executives to develop innovative strategies to leverage the rapidly changing technology environment. His current focus is in the areas of Social Business, collaboration, gamification, mobile and cloud computing. Prior to joining the Post, Yuvi was the CTO at Brassring (now Kenexa), a leading SaaS solution for talent management. Yuvi also worked at technology startups in France, New York and California. Yuvi is President of the Washington Area CTO Roundtable, a group of 250 CTOs that is built around discussions of events and trends poised to have an impact on the technology industry. His personal technology blog is at
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor at

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