The Gatehouse Blog

Life on Mars

It’s a household name, but what goes on behind the scenes of IC at Mars? We sat down with Tony Sanchez, Corporate Systems Business Partnership Manager for Mars, to talk internal communications, revamping the Mars intranet, and news and information at Mars and beyond.

A firm favourite with chocolate lovers the world over, Mars is a $38 billion, family-owned-and-grown company, with around 125,000 employees across four major divisions.

At the heart of this 108-year-old global manufacturing giant is the people who make things happen – the employees. And with exponential growth experienced in recent times – Mars has gone from 35,000 associates to 125,000 in the last eight years – employee engagement has never been more important.

Intranet for all

With a large, diverse audience to reach, internal communications at Mars hinges on strategy and tactical campaigns, as well as accessibility. But of course, ever-improving functionality is essential to maintaining engagement. And that’s where the Mars company intranet is so important.

Mars has gone from 35,000 associates to 125,000 in the last eight years – employee engagement has never been more important

Mars and beyond

Three years ago, Tony and his team were approached to revamp the company intranet, and at this point they made it their mission to target every one of the 115,000 associates with a central solution. It had become apparent that Dot Mars, the original internal portal, was not fit for purpose – it suffered from a lot of inefficiencies, was outdated and, crucially, failed to engage employees properly. And, as such, a lot of divisions had split from the pack and created their own platforms.

The team recognised that, if it was to work as a global portal, the intranet needed to align with day-to-day employee behaviours across all divisions. This meant weaving it into both work life and personal life, and was based on the strategy of providing “news and information at Mars and beyond”. This was a holistic approach that focused on providing what every employee of Mars needed, frequently and helpfully – and considering how these needs could be continually accommodated.

They called this new portal My Mars, and overall, the idea was to mimic people’s behaviours – waking up and grabbing their phone to check CNN, Facebook… or the news and information provided on the Mars company intranet.

This was a holistic approach that focused on providing what every employee of Mars needed.

Clearly defined steps

With a widespread net of associates, creating a flexible, robust tool was very important to achieve a truly global reach. This meant a complete overhaul of their intranet strategy, and new solutions to make a successful start. After several failed attempts at launching a new intranet, it had become clear that the key to getting it right was ensuring the IC and digital technologies teams were on the same page, and weren’t trying to do too much at once.

At this stage, it was about identifying key players, defining next steps and kicking off a detailed research phase, determining vendors and solutions before embarking on an iterative three-year change programme to launch My Mars. It was about taking small steps – ensuring that every element of the project was done well and done completely – and allowing a greater level of agility and speed when the process actually began.

Fast and smooth

High levels of preparation meant smooth sailing. Decisions could be made on the spot, with the design look-and-feel and architecture finalised within a four-day session. There was also a robust content migration strategy, with clear timeframes and a well-audited collection of content to migrate from Dot Mars to My Mars, as well as useful links to the SharePoint environment and HR systems. In the interests of keeping things fresh and relevant, the rest was archived.

After kicking off the project in July 2017, a live version was up and running internally by December 2017 – before launching to associates in February 2018.

It was about taking small steps – ensuring that every element of the project was done well and completely.

Successful transition

With a number of independent intranets still in use, the IC team now faced the challenge of bringing My Mars in as a global portal replacement. Some of the smaller intranets had already collapsed, deciding early on to go straight with My Mars – but there was a certain degree of hesitation from other divisions.

However, after a hugely positive response from the user community, even the largest intranets were sold on transitioning, and a lot of others soon followed suit.

Company rebrand

Recently, as a company, Mars has rebranded with a whole new visual identity and purpose statement – revealed to associates through My Mars on June 15, 2018. So, for the first time in over 100 years, Mars has a new logo and a new look – and a brand new global employee platform from which to showcase it. And, what’s more, the external mars.com website has been rebranded with the new Mars purpose, making it easy to see and understand just what’s been introduced to the entire associate population of Mars.

Mars has rebranded with a whole new visual identity and purpose statement – revealed to associates through My Mars on June 15, 2018. So, for the first time in over 100 years, Mars has a new logo and a new look – and a brand new global employee platform from which to showcase it.

Defining ‘beyond’

Half of Mars’s associates are now actively using My Mars, so the team’s ambition for the platform is to expand its reach to the entire organisation. Rather than simply being a place for news and information, My Mars has plans to go beyond – bringing tools to employees that they need in their daily jobs, whether it’s Calendar, Teams or any Microsoft tools that could help them on a day-to-day basis.

It’s about helping employees work smarter. And with the benefit of a fantastic IC campaign, there’s always a reminder that My Mars is the place to go for useful information.

“This is where you go. This is what you do. For anything user information wise, My Mars is where it’s at.”

Biography: Anthony Sanchez
Anthony Sanchez, Corporate Systems Business Partnership Manager, Mars digital technologies, has been with Mars for eight years. In his role as Business Partner, Tony works closely with his functional area senior leaders to build a strategy for growth through digital tools. With robust road mapping and incorporating industry-leading technologies, they fuel growth that they are proud of. Tony was formerly with Dun & Bradstreet for 15 years and held a variety of roles in customer service, sales, marketing and technology.