Delivering solutions and services that help Enterprise companies compete in a changing digital landscape.

Case Study

Social Collaboration & Employee Intranet Integration

Asponte Helps Staples Develop Employee Intranet & Knowledge Center, “The Hub”.

Staples is known as a one-stop retailer, online and in stores, for the essentials that keep business up and running. In 1986, their first store opened in Brighton, MA and has grown into a household name boasting over 2,000 stores in 26 countries employing over 1 million people.

Business Challenges
Staples watched their ever-expanding database of employee HR data and standard operating procedures grow as quickly as stores opened and employees were hired. This growth demanded an innovative, business-to-employee intranet portal that could also provide a collaborative environment to drive engagement and adoption across business units and geographic locations.

First, Staples would need a system that could manage the database, keep up with its exponential growth, and an accurate search feature to quickly find what each user type needed.

Next, managers needed a single digital space for reporting, payroll, HR functions, and for employees at all levels to collaborate via department microsites.
Also, as Seasonal employees moved on, Staples saw the impact of knowledge loss and the value in preserving those distinct voices. A recent hire with fresh eyes might look at a long standing process and see a time saving solution that a more tenured, involved employee might not. Those unique ideas needed to be preserved, and easily searchable, for future employees.

Fortunately, Staples also saw a “build it and they will come” approach might not work at work. Employees would need to be drawn to the new system other than timeclock and HR functions– a social component with features to encourage collaboration would be needed.

Staples’ project management team engaged Asponte to handle the Development, Infrastructure, and Integration phases for their upcoming next generational employee intranet, “The Hub”.

Our Approach
Asponte’s team worked closely with Staples’ development team to identify and prioritize their needs from development through implementation:

A virtual meeting space with custom chat features was built using IBM Sametime, to enable collaboration from anywhere between employees from all levels of the company. To drive users to The Hub, Asponte developed a custom social media component using IBM Connections’ blogs and communities function. This custom component was seamlessly integrated with IBM WebSphere Portal to create an engaging digital space that encourages end user interaction by mirroring popular social media sites.

A gamified points system was created to encourage good work habits and drive employees, from seasonal to salaried, to engage with The Hub. Asponte worked with the client’s third party design firm to guide them through designing the gamification functionality. The design firm had not previously worked with IBM WebSphere Portal, and Asponte guided them through the art of the possible.

The Hub’s most-used feature was the search function. Asponte’s custom search implementation crawled and indexed content from both IBM WebSphere Portal and Web Content Manager as well as IBM Connections content such as blogs, wikis, files, and communities. This customized solution delivers every user a unified, personalized search experience across platforms and content types.

After The Hub was launched, Staples engaged Asponte for Managed Services to assist and maintain the IBM WebSphere Portal, IBM Connections, and IBM Omnifind environments. As part of Asponte’s agreement with Staples, Asponte provided assistance with education, training, and hiring of well-qualified technicians so Staples could support their environment internally without assistance.

Software/Products Leveraged

  • IBM WebSphere Portal
  • IBM Web Content Manager WCM
  • IBM Connections
  • IBM Sametime
  • IBM OmniFind Watson Content Analytics Search
  • TDI Tivoli Directory Integrator
  • Ephox Edit Live
  • Ephox Web Radar Web Content Analytics and Reporting


Asponte’s contributions to “The Hub” included an integrated portal, content management, a gamified social media component, and HCL Digital Experience Connections system that was rolled out to every Staples store.

Managers and employees can now quickly access and search through the reporting, HR data, and payroll info they needed from Staples’ continuously-growing database.

The gamified portion of The Hub encourages healthy work habits by rewarding employees with points to exchange for prizes, and Staples knows employees are likely to see work-related items in their newsfeed as the gamified portion of The Hub encourages use.

The feedback from their users was excellent and Staples’ “The Hub” won the 2012 Nielsen Norman Group Intranet of the year award!
Staples continues to support their environment internally without the need for outside vendor assistance thanks to Asponte’s knowledge transfer, hiring influences, and training.