What does a successful social intranet look like, and how does your current solution compare?
According to Rebecca Rodgers, the five essential purposes of an intranet are to deliver content, be a key communication tool, enable collaboration, support the culture, and create efficiencies through supporting business activities.[i] Rich Blank further describes a successful intranet as an integrated hub that is “simple, easy, frictionless, personalized, and intuitive.”[ii]
In practice, intranets are designed to solve for three types of internal business communication needs:
- Deliver one-way, top-down corporate news and HR information
- Offer a library of best practices, and process documentation
- Provide a space for employee-to-employee sharing and real-time communication
Most software suites address one or more of these internal communications needs and are stronger in some areas than in others. Prioritize your business goals and list out available software solutions, weighing their strengths against the gaps you identified in your digital workplace maturity analysis. Then weigh the pros and cons of each solution according to your particular needs.
Research and Compare
Take a look at what companies you admire are doing. Do their approaches suit your people, processes and technologies? Could you build a collaborative internal digital culture using some of the same approaches but perhaps with tools that are more suited to the size and budget of your organization?
To advance along the digital workplace maturity continuum, organizations must, among other things, recognize and embrace the direction of internal digital communications solutions. A recent intranet study found six emerging trends[iii]:
- Breakthrough of mobile
- Increasingly social features
- Wider collaboration possibilities
- Integration into operational management
- Emphasis on transparency
- Explosion of video content
Look for a solution that addresses these six trends as well as your organization’s particular internal communication and collaboration priorities. Dave Gray sees the process of rolling out a new intranet as a potential primary driver of internal culture change. He points out that companies are made up of people. Giving those people a central hub of knowledge sharing and collaboration in a sense forces organizational unification in a positive and productive way. Creating not just the infrastructure for a truly social digital workplace, but also a guiding culture that promotes comments, conversations, and connections among employees can drive real business results in the form of revenue and new business.[iv] Informed, engaged, and empowered employees lead to improved sales and customer service as well as higher employee retention rates.[v]
Note that some solutions may be really great for real-time communication but have a weak, add-on tool to address the need for a living library and social collaboration. This is why many enterprises end up layering intranet solutions together that address employees’ needs with strengths in the areas they are specifically designed to address. The key is to limit the proliferation of internal communication tools by offering strong and versatile solutions at the corporate level and building a culture in which employees are encouraged to use the tools consistently and well.
Evaluating your intranet options? Then you’ll want to check out our eBook, “The New Social Intranet: How We Collaborate in the Digital Age.” It reveals how the companies with high social intranet innovation and maturity will set the standard in the digital workplace.
[iv] Gray, Dave. Personal interview. May 2015.
[v] “Calculating ROI of Enterprise Collaboration Software.” Bloomfire. 2015.
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