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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Social Media and the Intranet - Is it Enough?

Alexander Wolfe (The Wolfe's Den) commented in a recent article entitled Enterprise 2.0: Confronting 2.0's Dirty Little Secret:

"At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, there's been frank discussion this week of the question average users have been whispering (so that their bosses don't hear them): Namely, what can this stuff do for me that's actually useful? In truth, though, the answers to that question are not yet completely apparent."

Mr. Wolfe also indicates that technology enthusiasts' implicit familiarity with social media tools can be a problem as it glosses over potential usability and training issues for staff unfamiliar with these technologies.

Social media is a fast and efficient way to share thoughts and ideas - just ask anyone on Twitter. Many web 2.0 fans are seeking ways to integrate micro blogging, status updates, and video sharing within the corporate enterprise. Enterprise 2.0 is here to stay and can be an effective and extremely valuable part of your internal communications, particularly as it is built around the idea of engaging employees to be an active participant and not a passive observer of the intranet. We have often blogged about the key factor of a successful intranet is employee participation, and have built the Intranet Connections Intranet Software around this concept, but do social 2.0 tools give you everything you need for a successful intranet implementation?

Missing in social media is the organization and structure that most organizations are built upon. A well thought out and presented navigation system is invaluable for an intranet. Content stored within three clicks that can easily be found, rather than unlimited levels of content with no structure that becomes buried and rarely viewed. 2.0 social tools can be difficult and complex to set up, and instead of tying into existing single user logins, many have proprietary security requiring users to remember yet another username and password. These are all challenges that 2.0 software vendors will eventually address, but there is something to be said for the established intranet that is getting hammered in the media. Core internal applications are the backbone of an intranet. They are the tools that serve the employee in helping them with their daily jobs.

How can you have an intranet without some form of document management, the ability for employees to fill out and submit electronic forms and the ability to streamline and report on those e-form submissions? An intranet can help the IT department in providing a support desk ticketing application and knowledgebase - one central area for employees to report problems and view what the techs are doing about it, or to search FAQ's and to share how-to tips, tutorials and the option for employees to register for training, share comments and rate the effectiveness of the courses.

HR also has a strong presence on the intranet with the much-discussed employee directory, which does not have to be passive but can be highly interactive and social. HR also posts policies, new hire procedures, updated medical and dental benefits, job postings, departmental news and upcoming company events.

You can't discredit these important intranet features that social conversation and networking tools cannot replace. A successful intranet deployment should integrate the advantages of social media with the core applications already proven to enhance corporate information sharing.

Carolyn Douglas is the CEO and founder of Intranet Connections - Intranet Software ( a fully customizable out-of-the box intranet suite of applications designed for ease of use, simplicity and affordability.


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