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What is a Networked Enterprise and What Can it Do for Your Organization?

Mike Hicks

August 1, 2019 · 4 min read

Today’s organizations are increasingly complex and dispersed, and it’s hard to keep everyone connected and informed. Remote employees, geographically scattered offices, and expanding ecosystems of external partners often result in disengaged employees and information siloes.

Luckily, a fully networked enterprise can overcome this fragmentation and even raise productivity by up to 25 per cent. The term “networked enterprise” – coined by McKinsey – can be misleading, because every company uses a computer network to communicate and share information. The difference is that networked enterprises go much further to enable seamless, secure, and scalable collaboration across the entire organization.

Let’s start by learning more about this next step in the evolution of digital transformation by defining a networked enterprise.

What is a Networked Enterprise?

A networked enterprise uses “hub and spoke” digital workplace architecture, meaning it consists of a central hub site connected to one or more spoke sites.

  • Hub: A central digital workplace housing business-critical content that’s vital and relevant to the whole organization (such as policies, news, brand identity, and more).
  • Spokes: Public or private sites provisioned by the central administrator as “standalone” digital workplaces. Spokes house content that’s specific to the individual geographic location or business unit, while providing instant access to the hub.

Hub and spoke architecture supports organizations with multiple teams, locations, brands, and user groups. No matter the size or make-up of the organization, this model gives independent business units access to the information, processes, and expertise they need to be successful.

At the same time, it preserves some degree of autonomy for spoke sites to tailor their structure, content, and solutions to suit their users’ distinct needs, and in a context that’s more reflective of their location or business unit.

Common examples of spokes include sites for:

  • Franchises
  • Member firms
  • Branch offices
  • Remote teams
  • Suppliers & distributors
  • Customer communities

Now that we’ve outlined the hub and spoke model in networked enterprises, let’s look at how it can help your organization overcome the disconnectedness that’s so common today.

What organizations can benefit from a networked enterprise?

Igloo’s Networked Enterprise Management Solution solves the communication and collaboration challenges of organizations that want and need to give their partners, communities, or branches unique digital workplaces that are still strongly linked to the company hub. These organizations fall into three broad categories.

Let’s take a brief look at the characteristics of each one, then explore how Igloo’s Networked Enterprise Management Solution has helped companies within each category.

Organizations with regional offices

With central headquarters in one country and offices, teams, or business units scattered worldwide, multi-national organizations grapple with cultural and language challenges, along with different times zones, business contexts, and regulatory frameworks.

Customer profile: A global gaming company

This American gaming corporation has over 50 casinos and hotels, and seven golf courses under several brands with 65,000 employees. They built an inspiring digital hub that helped unify the entire organization and enhance collaboration with easy access to company news, policies, and leadership updates. At the same time, they boosted subsidiaries’ cultural and brand autonomy by giving them distinct digital workplaces suited to their individual needs.

Organizations with affiliates

These distributed organizations have affiliates (holding companies, members firms, or branches) that exercise some control over their brands and cultures, which can result in siloes of information and brand inconsistency.

Customer profile: An international legal conglomerate

With 126 member firms in 147 countries and 30,000 employees, this global conglomerate needed to improve company-wide knowledge sharing and boost adherence to the central brand, while still accommodating member firms’ individual identities. They created a corporate hub that increased brand consistency, enhanced team collaboration, and enriched cooperation among experts across the organization. Member firms got their own spoke sites that preserve their distinct language and operational requirements.

Organizations with external stakeholders

Whether they’re dealing with vendors, customers, donors, alumni, or other external stakeholders, these extended enterprises tend to have a fluid, decentralized structure. Their central challenge is to keep all these partners satisfied and productive while maximizing the whole company’s efficiency at scale.

Customer profile: A global health insurance company

This service company has 100,000+ employees in multiple locations worldwide. During a time of M&A growth, they needed to ensure better alignment with their core vision and unify communications. By abandoning SharePoint and creating a networked enterprise with Igloo, they heightened engagement with corporate content through hub solutions such as a virtual town hall, HR center, and social zone. They also created deal rooms in spoke sites for secure evaluation of M&A targets.

​The next step in digital workplace transformation – available to every organization

Regardless of your deployment category, as your internal workforce grows and the number of external partners goes up, your organization’s needs will change. Networked enterprises have scalable architecture designed to handle significant usage fluctuations, additional security requirements, and mounting performance demands.

A hub and spoke model also supports fast, efficient communication for informed decision-making across even the largest company – a clear competitive advantage over companies struggling with fragmented communication.

In 2018, Igloo announced the general availability of its proprietary hub and spoke architecture in the Networked Enterprise Edition. It was the culmination of four years’ experience building digital workplaces for complex, dispersed multinational customers.

The hub and spoke model was originally only available to large enterprises on single-tenant architecture. However today, regardless of your organization’s size or whether it uses single or multi-tenant architecture, you can leverage all the benefits of the Networked Enterprise Edition, including the highest tier of support, in-depth training, and additional security.

Learn more about Igloo’s Networked Enterprise offerings.