How Social Intranets Cultivate High Performers

4 minute read
Gia Lyons avatar

If traditional intranets are killing your company, what can revive it?


In Why Traditional Intranets Are Killing Your Company, I explained that traditional communication and collaboration tools often hinder high performance, rather than help give it a boost.

In particular, conventional intranets don’t allow employees to easily collaborate with others to create and deliver quality work, or to share their knowledge with others. Let’s examine how a social intranet can do both -- seamlessly -- to boost employee performance.

Think about it: Here’s what people probably do in your organization:

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

And, here’s how they do it -- most likely with one or more of the following tools:

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

So many tools (ugh!) and unfortunately, they are typically all disconnected. You can’t keep track of actions needed or decisions made across them all. And, in a few weeks, you'll have no idea of the context of the work done. And don't even think about using them on a mobile device -- it’s not an option.

The Seamlessly Social Intranet

To address obstacles to high performance, including a lack of collaboration and ability to share, you need the power of social business. Keep in mind, social doesn’t mean a stack of software tools. Instead, it is a way of doing business that offers a seamless flow of information, context and activity across different applications and business activities.

A social intranet accomplishes all of that. It is used from within your most common tools, such as MS Office, SharePoint, Lync, Google Docs, Google Drive, Box, Salesforce.com, etc. It consolidates -- within a single, searchable area -- all the actions assigned, decisions made and the conversation threads and activity streams happening across those tools. And, it delivers all of this in the context of a specific process to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.In short, a social intranet becomes the hub and the system of record for collaboration.

Here's a specific practical example for how this plays out. Let's say an IT team is beginning to develop a new application for one of their business lines. They would likely follow this process:

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

To accomplish its goals, the IT team would likely use tools to collaborate such as Microsoft Office/Google Docs; SharePoint/Google Drive, Email, Web meetings, Chat messaging, a source control repository and a bug tracking system.

Learning Opportunities

However, this will likely bring up a bundle of issues and questions, such as:

  • “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 businesspeople change the requirements again? Is it documented somewhere?”

The Social Intranet Solution: Central Collaboration Control

By using a social intranet as the collaboration system, all of the above emails and documents would automatically get posted and updated to one place, with the latest versions and replies intact, no matter who sends them.

The team would be able to 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, and made available on their most-used mobile devices. The project manager would be able to post project governance information, alerts and meeting notes, and designate decisions made and actions needed within conversation threads.

Best of all, the team's work-in-progress would appear in smart activity streams and search results, get recommended to others across the company, and appear next to similar content (subject to view permissions)

The end result? A project team with access to all the latest project information and people, official decisions and actions needed, no matter where the information, decisions and actions originated, and no matter what device people want to use. Now, imagine this happening not just in one project team, but in groups large and small across the entire enterprise.

Image courtesy of Leszek Glasner (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Want to read more about Social Intranets? See James Dellow's A Brief History of Social Intranets

About the author

Gia Lyons

Gia Lyons has developed, provided consulting services for, and sold collaboration and intranet solutions since 1996. At Jive Software, she leads a product marketing team focused on solution delivery and enablement across all of the company's product portfolio.