New technology moves into the enterprise slowly, and it's been no different for social software. Some companies are not ready to adopt social while others are cautiously optimistic, but even for those who are at the cutting edge, information still tends to become siloed, making it less useful and harder to find.

Early adoptors of social have moved past the experimentation phase, and those companies are forging a new path in the quest to make organizational communication more open, a report from the Nielsen Norman Group found.

Integration Gap Still Considerable

Whether organizations adopt social because of a worker mandate or if it's a top down process, social too often remains yet another layer of complexity for people to work through, the report found. Social breaks down very real communications barriers, a positive step for most companies.

However, without easily integrating social tools into existing intranets and official portals, any discussions or answers found there are too often cut off from the other channels. The fact that many Saas versions of popular social software don't support federated search is another big reason social has not swept across the enterprise with abandon.

Social Eating Intranets?

It is this fundamental question of integration that holds back the full promise of social applications. Because social tools are often bolted onto existing intranets, there are UI challenges, infrastructure challenges, and usually a political challenge, the report found.

Without better integration, a new social tool may whither as workers stick to their official intranet, but the opposite isn't much more attractive. Once a new system is adopted, workers may quickly move away from their old channel, something better integration can obviously solve.


Microsoft's Yammer is one popular example of social tools in the enterprise.

Organizations looking to bolster their social tools need to be doing so for the right reasons, and if business problems can be solved with social, fewer issues will arise. Simply put, social can't be put in place just because it is a fad, it must be tied to real problem solving.

Nielsen Norman Group examined the social intranets of 22 companies for its report, including IBM, Oracle, Intel and Sprint Nextel. Tell us in the comments if your business is using separate social and intranet tools or how their integration is helping or hurting productivity.