Do you think your company can get by without a social intranet? Whatever you think, you may not have much of a say. Dave Gray, author of Gamestorming and The Connected Company, cautions senior business leaders, “Whether or not a social intranet happens is really not up to you. It’s like a tsunami; you simply cannot stop it.”
If you don’t provide the tools employees need through a social intranet that is functional, useful, and attractive, employees will find and use any of the many, many social tools available to them externally.
The Wide World of Social Collaboration Tools
Sometimes external social tools are used as solutions and adopted by the entire company and layered over or integrated with the traditional intranet. Examples of tools that might be adopted at the corporate level or within smaller business units include Slack, HipChat, and Jaconda — private group chat tools that allow co-workers to give each other real-time updates, but don’t necessarily fulfill all of a company’s knowledge sharing needs. More robust tools like Bloomfire and Jive may also be used company-wide or by a specific department.
Some groups use free external content management services like Wikispaces or task-management tools such as Basecamp or Trello. Individuals and small groups may even seek out free or low-cost communication and document sharing tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, SlideShare, and DropBox.
Each such tool tends to serve limited communication needs. As such, tools quickly begin to proliferate within the organization. This tends to lead to user frustration due to too many accounts, logins, and processes that they need to do their jobs.
Additionally, with the expanding use of tools outside the company’s jurisdiction, employees can inadvertently compromise company security and leave sensitive information vulnerable to discovery and misuse.
Cutting Through the Noise: Adopting a Company-Wide Social Intranet
The most obvious way to reduce the security risks and frustrations that come with using a mix of social collaboration tools? Implement a social intranet that allows everyone at the company to share content, ask and answer questions, and comment on one another’s posts.
It will take more than one ambitious team leader to successfully launch a company-wide social intranet, of course.
“It’s important for senior management to actively promote the intranet and engage in social collaboration,” says Susan Hanley. “If it doesn’t matter to senior management, it won’t matter to employees.” In other words, if adoption of the intranet doesn’t come from the top down, employees will ignore the new platform and continue using the jumble of social collaboration tools they’ve already chosen.
A good social intranet that employees and managers use together gives managers a better idea about what’s working and what’s not in their organization while providing employees the means to communicate across business functions with less friction and frustration.
To check out more about social collaboration in the digital workplace, check out our eBook, “The New Social Intranet: How We Collaborate in the Digital Age.” It seeks to understand where your organization’s intranet is today and how to get it to where you want it to be in the future.