The company has more than 800 groups on the Jive system, many of them business-related but some of them social in nature. To illustrate the range of uses, he noted that regional sales and marketing teams have formed groups to share best practices, while employees who like photography have set up a more informal community for colleagues who share that interest.
"I think they're in line with most of the companies that are deploying this kind of software," Shimmin said. "[Enterprise 2.0 tools] certainly are not widely adopted, like, say, e-mail. Even companies that are deploying it are working with different facets of it. Some start with microblogging to get internal chatter going. Other companies are starting with profile-centric social networking so employees understand who is working in the company.... There are different ways of getting involved."
It hasn't all been easy, said Lowe, who noted that it's often difficult to keep up with all of the information that comes his way through personal and group updates. Sometimes getting people to think collaboratively can be its own challenge. he said.
"As for success, I think what I am realizing is that deploying and getting people on a 2.0 tool is the easy part. Influencing behaviors and driving change in an organization is much more difficult, but also far more rewarding," Lowe said. "What I mean is that we are not all collaborators by nature. There are some who believe that just because we deployed this platform that everyone instantly will get it."
Despite those challenges, it's the people inside Alcatel-Lucent who are making the collaboration tool work.
"The people have made this successful," Lowe said. "The tool has just helped, but it's the people who surprise me on a daily basis."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com .
Read more about enterprise web 2.0/collaboration in Computerworld's Enterprise Web 2.0/Collaboration Topic Center.