Clients like it, too. H&K client UPromise in Brookline, Mass., is a startup that
eenables parents to earn college savings through credit-card spending. Its PR director,
Liz Carpenter, says hK.net was indispensable during launch preparations. By getting on
the site, she could see which media contacts H&K was talking to or view press kits and
media documents at various stages. But the most useful feature has been a calendar
that's kept updated on the site. "Just before we made our announcement, we had several
different spokespeople doing interviews," she says. "Schedules are difficult to manage.
So I had one central place to check the schedules to know who's interviewing with whom
and when. It's great to be able to update that information in real-time.
Although hK.net undeniably has a lot to offer, the company still struggles with
getting its employees to incorporate the system into a daily work routine.
One issue is connectivity. The company's 68 offices are hooked up to the Internet
at varying speeds. For example, Toronto and New York City boast T-1 connections, while
Paris is stuck with a 14.4K trickle of bandwidth. Graham must be realistic about what
kind of information the bandwidth-challenged offices can contribute or receive. "In
some cases we're trying to have them rely on their e-mail system to contribute things
instead of using their Web browser," he says. "They'll attach a document, and it'll go
into a repository. On the retrieval side, they may get an e-mail notification with a
URL attached that'll take them directly into a document instead of having them browse
or search the site."
Graham also must persuade sometimes-reluctant workers to post information on the
extranet as a matter of routine. Bartolucci says it's been slow at first, but she sees
people gradually falling into line as they acquaint themselves with hK.net's
capabilities. "The problem is that right now, we're all socialized to just use [what's
on our local networks] and when something new comes along, it's hard to push everyone
into it," she says. "Technology alone can't make things right. People need to be
trained to use it."