3rd Aug 2009
Intranet's go social
Long gone are the days when the company Intranet was an unwieldy website with reams of information, which employees could never work out how to find or didn't want to use it because they didn't understand it or see how it would help them with their jobs.
According to the usability guru, Jakob Nielsen's latest Intranet report, companies are realising that as their employees are using social networks and tools to manage their lives outside work, they now want to do the same inside work and slowly Intranets are going 2.0. Yammer services (corporate Twitter) are starting to become common as are RSS feeds, social bookmarking and encouraging user generated content.
It certainly makes sense for companies to jump on the social bandwagon but they need to be careful how they embrace it. Rather than deploy as an add-on, they need to instead consider how the social tools and applications can help them and their employees and ensure that it's integrated across the Intranet and is not a stand-alone feature.
For example, Nielsen says that there's little point in developing a separate social network where employes have to sign in- to use and to connect- when tools already exist in the form of Facebook and LinkedIn. So instead, companies need to be thinking imaginatively and creatively as to how going social can help their employees and then deploy from there after all there is little point if these services aren't useful as they simply won't be used. In effect- they need to structure the Intranet around their employees, their employees needs and how they consumer and use social tools - outside of work.
The best bit of advice from Nielsen is the old adage that as on the Web- content is king on Intanet's and so there is little point having a slick and in-depth community or a great Wiki and yet have little or no content or activity within it. That's why, companies need to start slowly and build- rather than trying to do it all at once and going Intranet 2.0 straight away.
We, at Evolv have done a fair bit of work on Intranets and it always amazes us how some companies insist that Intranet's need to be information repositories and effectively a one-way communication platform. The best Intranet's strike a balance between information, tools and services and a lifestyle manager. They offer personalisation and services that employees cannot find elsewhere. They have to integrate with 'the best of the Web' and they need to be communicated across the company as useful destinations, which are going to help and not hinder employees,