Every company has different feelings about the time and place for utilizing social tools, but really to properly assess this question there are four items to consider:
- What exactly is a social intranet?
- Why would you want to utilize social tools?
- What are some potential pitfalls of a social intranet?
- What business value does social give my employees?
Exploring these factors, this blog details the conversations and explorations companies and individuals have concerning their use cases for and opposition to a social intranet.
The Social Intranet Defined
A social intranet is a way of conducting business communication within your company or network, using social tools approved by management, that allows employees to cast off the shackles of dry, edited, perfected communication, via email or newsletter, and get back to the roots of our communication. No, this does not consist of grunts and yells, but in most cases the simplest communication is not only usually the best form, but also the fastest. Social intranet features could include:
- Enterprise Networking
- Message Boards & Status Updates
- Commenting & Rating
- Discussion Forums
- Employee Recognition
- Ideas Share Exchange
- And so on…
Currently, most employees of the digital age use social tools daily in forms of instant and social communication, such as Google Talk and Facebook. These tools are all workable and in some cases acceptable solutions to providing a social venue for employees to communicate, but certain management and control questions still linger:
- “What are my employees sharing using these tools?”
- “Is the tool being used for business?”
- “How secure are these tools?”
- “Can I ensure that my sensitive documents are not ending up in the wrong hands?” Which leads to the next topic…
The Benefits of Social Features
Deploying an intranet with native social communication tools virtually eliminates the questions raised above. Rather than having multiple unsecured and unmanaged social tools accessed through the internet by employees, in-house social intranet tools can be authorized, implemented and managed by your company for social, business and productivity purposed as you see fit. Additionally, all a social intranet can ensure all business-related discussions are taking place on their secured network, while still giving employees the quick an easy tools necessary to conduct daily communications.
Common Social Intranet Pitfalls
While the validity of the social concerns are not in question, one must look at the side effects of not offering this form of communication to your employees. One of the most likely outcomes will be employees using 3rd party social communication tools, outside of the control of the company.
Unfortunately, in spite of the concerns or pitfalls that may come along with social tools, the fact of the matter is they are part of the digital corporate environment today and here to stay. The question then turns to not how do you eliminate this distraction and potential leak, but rather how do you control and leverage the use of these tools and build corporate culture by allowing a free flowing stream of ideas and employee collaboration through them.
What Business Value Does Social Bring?
The business value is in its simplicity. Giving your employees a venue to chat gives employees the ability to have quick conversations and get quick answers to improve productivity and minimize distraction. How many of us would prefer a quick text to a phone call at work? A phone call can take minutes to hours…a text will take seconds to minutes and can be responded to quickly at the recipient’s convenience, improving productivity.
The benefits of social, when used appropriately, can be vast for your business. But it is important you have a good social intranet strategy and social governance in place to ensure your social tools are being used for productive business practices. If you have any questions about your social intranet, social tools or social intranet practices please comment below.