The idea of a next-generation intranet has led to a variety of approaches including the use of social networks to increase personalization and interaction within the intranet to the use of gamification to increase participation. Although these approaches have increased the functionality of the corporate intranet, they have not fully unlocked the potential knowledge benefits of bringing employees and information together. To take advantage of the benefits of social and gamification, intranets must take an evolutionary leap that takes advantage both of game mechanics and the strength of interconnected interactions.
Staging the Intranet
From a gamification perspective, one of the most pervasive themes in games is the idea of levels. Nobody starts at Level 99 or Stage 99; we all start at level 1 and move on.
Likewise, there should be an introductory framework or hierarchy of information that is available for new employees that is based on foundational knowledge needed to understand how companies make decisions. By making sure that employees have understood the history and logic behind business policies, new employees can gain greater insight both into how to work within the company and to bring in change if foundational assumptions may be outdated or unnecessary in today's work environment.
These stages should not fully replace the idea of an open intranet, but should be available as an option for employees who are more goal-oriented or focused and may work better with a structured environment or with topics associated with multiple layers of business logic. By providing areas that can be unlocked through interaction or by downloading specific combinations of content, companies can create an intranet where every employee in a specific stage shares a specific background.
Intranet as Employee Engagement Tool
In addition, the next generation of intranets should be able to recognize themes associated with content that is viewed or downloaded. If an employee looks up competitive information for several vendors, for instance, the intranet should pick up on this competitive intelligence theme and make multiple suggestions such as:
- Suggesting employees who are part of the competitive intelligence team for additional information
- Naming key analysts or external resources used as competitive intelligence resources
- Listing additional internal training or external education that can be used to understand market research, including potential coursework or experience associated with the competitive intelligence skillset
- Providing best practices associated with collecting intelligence on a daily basis such as setting up RSS feeds and tracking relevant social media sources on a daily basis.
This combination of daily tasks, ongoing education and recommended colleagues and external resources would extend the value of the content by providing subsequent steps to increase the employee's ability to support the company.
The Intranet and Employee Performance
In addition, although gamification starts with the ability to keep score, points and badges are overrated. Employees should already know what they are incentivized to accomplish, so true satisfaction comes from reaching either those corporate goals or in achieving individual goals that are related to the job. Rather than taking a broad points-based approach, gamification should have an individually aligned approach that is aligned to employee and departmental performance that can replace the traditional performance review.
In this respect, the intranet can play an important role in making sure that each employee is up-to-date on all core topics for which she is responsible. If she is a subject matter expert, she may be responsible for updating policies or best practices on a regular basis. If she is a management candidate, she should also be familiar with information ranging from compliance issues to corporate finance to core operational capabilities. By using gamification aligning content consumption to core employee responsibilities, companies can use the intranet to help shape employee performance reviews and ongoing career development.
In addition, the intranet should lead directly to business applications and tools used to accomplish existing work. A portal or intranet with best practices on customer service should be also have direct access to the customer service tool in question. These links and connections can be made directly through improved portal design or on a social basis as employees add relevant comments and metatagging that associate a specific practice with the correct application or tool.
As companies continue to seek strategic advantages with their intranet, they must think about the aspects of social and gamification that are most associated with value. By providing improvements that reflect the mindset of the newest generation of employees, improve employee productivity, and support ongoing employee advancement, the intranet can continue to be the business hub of the universe and provide ongoing value.
Editor's Note: Another great article from Hyoun is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Collaborators.
Image courtsey of fotoscool (Shutterstock)
About the Author
Hyoun Park is a Principal Analyst at Nucleus Research where he conducts and oversees primary investigative research on analytics, big data, business analytics, social software, and enterprise mobility. He combines his telco, sabermetrics, social networking, and expense management backgrounds to describe key value propositions associated with analytics and emerging business technologies. He has keynoted multiple end-user and industry events and has served as an advisor for enterprise vendors seeking insight on upcoming market trends.