So you want to implement a social intranet. You want to bring your business into the new generation of technology and create an environment where your employees not only have access to everything they need to keep your company running right at their fingertips no matter what the time of day or where they are in the world, but you want them to be able to interact with each other while they do it. In effect, you want to turn your business’ intranet into the hot hangout spot for employees.
So how are you going to go about it? You could simply walk up to your IT Director (unless you are the IT Director, in which case you can just look in the mirror) and demand that your business intranet not only go social but go mobile as well. But do you truly understand what a social intranet is?
A communal intranet brings together the best of two worlds: the company intranet, which allows employees access to all the documents, instructions, calendars and proprietary information they need to do their jobs daily. It’s a place where you provide employees with key information that can’t be shared in an uncontrolled environment. It’s basically the company library and handbook in the digital, mobile accessible form. The social aspect comes in when you decide to add interactive features to your Intranet, and we’re not talking about forms and three choice surveys that have been a part of Intranet capability since Server 1.0. A social intranet incorporates blogs, forums, online chat and chat rooms, and other types of social networking like status updates and feeds into the intranet environment. However, before you decide to jump off the deep-end and implement social networking as a part of your intranet system it’s important to understand the main components of a social intranet and ensure that it’s right for you, your business and your employees.
• People. The first, and most important component is the people that will be involved. In order to successfully implement it all, or at least most, of your employees should be able to access and use your intranet and the features that will be made available. This includes managers, executives, salaried staff and part-time hourly employees. If not everyone is going to have access to the intranet, and especially the social parts, your new social intranet may actually decrease employee morale and reduce your chances of promoting the long-term use among personnel and ultimately creating long-term success.
• Process. When we talk about the process, we’re not talking about the process you go through to actually implement a social intranet. Rather we’re talking about the process of integration that captures the true meaning of a social environment. For example, you’ll need corporate policies and governance for your new social intranet, and you’ll also need an enforcer. Currently only 78% of all companies with a social intranet have governance or policies. However, rules are important to creating an appropriate social network within your company’s intranet, more so than they are on social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
• Technology. Sure, creating a mobile and intranet is, in and of itself, technology. However, when you think technology in terms of your social intranet, you should be thinking about the types of tools you are making available to your staff on your new social intranet that makes it a truly social intranet option that they can feel good about using and actually get excited about. Some of the tools you can consider using in tandem when you develop your social intranet are commenting, forums, blogs and video blogs (blogs), wikis, tagging, presence, portals, employee networking, including status updates and feeds, commenting; forums and RSS feeds, just to name a few. However, these technologies are not the only ones that can be implemented to make your social intranet really special and something your employees will not only enjoy using but will clamor to use.
Essentially, when you decide that your company is ready to start building an intranet you have to consider whether it’s right for your company and for the people who work there. In some cases, social intranet may not be the best choice. If your employees enjoy social networking and understand the importance of your company’s intranet and also put it to use on a regular basis, then you may have just the right idea. But if this is not the case, then you may want to consider other options, like leaving it the same until you can bring all of your employees on board. You should also consider the cost, time and security ramifications that implementing it will exert on your business.