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Why Your Intranet Should Be Seamlessly Social

04.28.2013
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In The Problem with Traditional Intranets, I explained that employees are hampered by their company's traditional communication and collaboration tools across five behaviors of high performers:

  1. Understand their organization's overall strategy, and how they contribute
  2. Informally learn from others in similar roles
  3. Find experts and their knowledge to improve work in progress
  4. Collaborate with others to create and deliver quality work products
  5. Share their knowledge with others

Let's explore how social technologies can address these obstacles to higher performance, starting with (4) Collaborate with others to create and deliver quality work, and (5) Share their knowledge with others.

What would you say you do here?

Forget about technology for a moment. What do people DO in your organization? Probably variations on the following:

  • Develop products
  • Develop campaigns
  • Update websites
  • Plan events
  • Launch products
  • Create client presentations
  • Write sales proposals
  • Manage client projects
  • Resolve customer issues

And what tools do you use to do these things? Perhaps one or more of these:

  • Email
  • Phone calls
  • Conference rooms
  • Web meetings
  • Chat messaging
  • Wikis
  • Microsoft Office
  • Google Docs
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Dropbox
  • Box
  • Basecamp
  • CRM
  • ERP

That's a lot of tools.

One of the biggest problems with using all of these disconnected tools is that you can’t keep track of actions needed or decisions made across all of them, and you have no idea about the context of the work done, weeks later. And forget about using some of them on a mobile device.

So, how can a social intranet help?

First, social isn’t a software stack. It’s a way of doing business that requires the seamless flow of information, context, and activity across different applications and business activities.

A social intranet:

  • is used from within your most common tools, such as MS Office, SharePoint, Lync, Google Docs, Google Drive, Box, Salesforce.com, etc.
  • consolidates within a single, searchable area the actions assigned, decisions made, and the conversation threads and activity streams happening across those tools
  • delivers all of these tools in the context of a specific process to your mobile devices

In short, a social intranet becomes the hub, the system of record for collaboration.

Here's an example.

Let's say an IT team is beginning to develop a new application for one of their business lines. They would likely follow a process like this:

  1. Gather requirements from the business people
  2. Develop solution that fits into the company's technology architecture
  3. Define use cases
  4. Build a prototype and present it to the business people for feedback
  5. Repeat until requirements stop moving, and technology architecture is feasible

And they'd likely use these tools to collaborate:

  • Microsoft Office/Google Docs
  • SharePoint/Google Drive
  • Email
  • Web meetings
  • Chat messaging
  • Source control repository
  • Bug tracking system

But, issues like these are abound:

Where is the latest Excel version of the requirements? I think someone emailed a new version yesterday.

I can't keep coding until I get an update from the Bangalore team, and they're asleep.

Who from the business side can make a decision on this new issue?

Why did the business people change the requirements again? Is it documented somewhere?

With a social intranet as the system of collaboration, all those emails and documents would automatically get posted and updated with the latest versions and replies to one place, no matter who sends them. The team can ask and answer one another's questions around the clock using email, the source control repository, and the bug tracking system, knowing that everything is streamed to their social intranet place, and made available on their most used mobile devices. The project manager can post project governance information, alerts, meeting notes, and designate decisions made and actions needed within conversation threads. Best of all: this team's work in progress would appear in the social intranet's streams and search results, get recommended to others across the company, and appear next to similar content (subject to view permissions).

That's how a social intranet helps people collaborate with others to create and deliver quality work, and share their knowledge with others while they're working. How do you use your social intranet to work better?

Learn more about how a social intranet can impact your business by downloading this Whitepaper.
Published at DZone with permission of Jive Community, author and DZone MVB.

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