Social Business, A Love Letter to My Intranet
My Dearest Intranet,

You and I have had a longstanding relationship, full of ups and downs. You’ve greeted me every weekday morning for years, brightening my dark, windowless cube in the absence of sun, giving me a view into the world with your “recent news” ticker reminding me that there’s life outside of this office. 

Over the years, I’ve explored every part of you, seeking answers and information that you hide deep inside. We know each other so well, Intranet. But though I am with you all day, every day, and despite the fact that I need you intensely, you still sometimes cause me great anguish.

Our relationship has been a constant inside the ever-changing landscape of corporate life, but I find myself both needing you and shunning you, wanting you to change yet hoping you’ll stay the same, all in the same day.

It’s time for me to finally tell you how I feel, Intranet. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Intranet, you are beautiful

I’m in awe of your design, our corporate logo placed so delicately next to the stock images of hard-working models smiling in a fake conference room. You have an entire, dedicated team of employees to make sure you look your best, fresh with content. It’s hard to remember that your beauty only runs surface deep, your lines of confusing legacy code and customizations all tangled up and messy underneath your glowing custom skin.

You work hard to stay young, Intranet

I appreciate your efforts. Any time you’re feeling a little bloated and puffy, or when you hear that the other Fortune 100s intranets have had a little work done, you make it a priority to get a little “update” here, a hefty “upgrade” there. When your vendor and its development team have new code, new features, even something new and shiny like “social” plugins that are still untested and unproven, you’re the first to volunteer and say, “Me! Upgrade me!” There’s no shame in that, Intranet. I like it that you work hard to look good and stay relevant.

Your heart is like a maze, Intranet

Despite your exterior beauty, when it’s time to go deeper and actually search you, it feels like I’m wandering aimlessly through an everlasting puzzle. Your corners shift. Your walls move. When I try to search for new HR benefits, sometimes you share the links to the right page. But then I search again the next day, and you’ve moved the page.

So I wander again through you, desperate to figure out where you’ve hidden my benefits details. Intranet, you’re a constant source of mystery and intrigue, a brain-teaser out of the Sunday comics that keeps my search and rescue skills sharp. You’ve trapped me inside, Intranet, and I can’t come out.

You’re magical, full of rainbows and leprechauns, Intranet

At least, that’s how it feels when I’m searching you for a document. Sometimes, I need a budget or a PowerPoint deck that was presented to a client last year. I know you’re holding onto them safely, because I uploaded them into you many moons ago. But when I search, they’re elusive, like a rainbow that appears after a spring shower, only to disappear a few minutes later. Sometimes, they feel nonexistent, like the mythical leprechaun that supposedly exists where the rainbow meets the ground. My pot of gold contains my much-needed documents, but you, Intranet, lure me with the hope of finding critical information that easily disappears into the realm of folklore and storybooks.

Sometimes, it’s YOU that disappears, Intranet

I know it’s tough being the information hub for tens of thousands of people. You take a lot of heat. But Intranet, that doesn’t mean that you should just disappear sometimes. The weight of our company is on your shoulders, and when you go down for an hour or two at a time, selfishly hiding away from the world, our workforce is paralyzed. I am lost without you, Intranet. Your absence means that I can’t get to my email, my browser, my team site, and I can do nothing to tame my panic except ensconcing myself inside the addictive land of Candy Crush Saga on my iPhone. It’s not your fault that you’re the gateway to all corporate productivity, Intranet. But that doesn’t mean that you can simply go down at-will.

There’s no pleasing you, Intranet

You like to play games with me, don’t you? I work hard to get used to my new password for you, a random jumble of at least 10 characters including one capital, two symbols, three numbers, all of which, when strung together, must be valid in a Klingon game of Scrabble. But 90 days later, you demand that I change it yet again in order to access your precious content. We seem to be comfortable together, you and I, for a few months at a time, and then your obscure password demands make me question your faith and trust in me. But I continue to play your games, and I keep coming back for more.

Sometimes, when you drive me to the brink of insanity, I turn to my secret Taylor Swift station on Spotify and stare at you on the screen and belt out my promise that we are never, ever, ever getting back together, like, ever.

And I daydream about a time in the future, outside of the walls of corporate life, on a sandy beach somewhere with a fruity drink in hand, in a time and place where intranets are nothing but a relic of the past. I may not be able to change you, but I feel like I can escape you, and it’s only a matter of time. I dream of your demise, that ne’er-will-happen day when an activity stream or enterprise social network might usurp your power, and I will pop a bottle of bubbly as I bury your memory.

But then, reality sets in again, and I need to get on the web, check my email and search for the name of that marketing manager in New York who holds the key to my next project. To do this, I must visit you, the gatekeeper to my work and climbing the corporate ladder. And today, you work just fine. You play nice with me. You let me online without a hitch and give me the search results I need.

“You’re not so bad, Intranet,” I say with a sigh, a bit of guilt and the fond memories of our time together washing away my anger toward you. So I treat you nicely and commit to trying harder, maybe even going in for a bit of virtual training to learn how to work with you more effectively.

Oh, how I can’t seem to quit you, Intranet. You just know how to keep me coming back for more.

Affectionately and unabashedly yours,

Every Employee in the World

Title image courtesy of Your lucky photo (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more from Carrie in The 8 C's of Social Software Success