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How to choose the best social intranet software

The employee tech industry is booming. It was just a few months ago that not many people had heard of digital tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and, almost overnight, it seems almost everyone has now become an expert.

To support mandated remote work and a flexible work environment, organizations have embraced employee technology like never before. In some cases, employees have even become overwhelmed with digital tools and platforms, often struggling to understand where to find the information they need to do their job. 

With the remote working revolution in full swing, many organizations are now starting to take a more strategic approach to employee technology. Far from adding to the technology burden, a social intranet can be a good way to consolidate, cut through the noise and enable your business to succeed

How to choose the best social intranet software

What is a social intranet? 

A social intranet is a modern, simple business tool that incorporates social technology, powerful search and sharing capabilities, as well as a communication and collaboration hub that can be easily accessed to get work done.  

Borrowing the most successful and rich features of common social media tools such as liking, commenting, tagging and sharing, social intranet software makes it easy for people to connect in a business setting, eliminating traditional silos.

5 benefits of a social intranet software 

Virtual communities on social intranets are a powerful way to drive productivity, allowing workers to exchange relevant information and manage projects with ease. Senior leaders are often astonished at how quickly the right intranet can boost the bottom line. Social intranet platforms bring numerous benefits. Here are our top 5.  

1.  Improves two-way communication. It may sound obvious, but a modern intranet is a quick and efficient way to  enable direct and clear dialogue  between employees and company leaders. People can share ideas, solve customer problems, crowdsource information, identify trends and make better strategic decisions for the organization. 

2. Better collaboration. Working with people within your organization who are based in different locations, across global time zones or speak different languages can be a challenge. Social intranets provide an easy avenue to communicate and collaborate on projects. With the ability to translate information, enabling easy collaboration helps to save time, strengthen team relationships, improve project management, deliver a better customer experience and improve business results.

3. More personalized and relevant information. In an age of information overload, it’s easy for employees to miss important information, feel confused or even burnt out. A good social intranet can mitigate these challenges. By joining or creating relevant online communities on a social intranet software, employees can easily see content that’s relevant to them. They can even personalize the platform and choose the level of notifications they receive, as well as how and where to receive information on their homepage. This helps employees only focus on and consume the information they want and need to do their jobs. 

4. Optimized efficiency. In the current economic climate, constrained resources need to be as efficient and effective as possible. With access to real time information available from every location on every device, a social intranet enables employees working on a project to make decisions and acquire feedback quickly in order to maintain the momentum and enthusiasm involved in the task. This leads to increased productivity and optimized efficiency. 

5. Increased productivity and improved employee engagement. Employees thrive in environments where they can share their expertise, their work has a clearly defined purpose, they are empowered to innovate and complete their work, and they feel recognized for great performance. A social intranet can inspire workers to contribute more fully to the organization so they can recognize their potential and improve productivity and employee engagement.

3 things to look for in a social intranet software

There are an increasing number of social intranet providers to choose from that it can be difficult to differentiate between them. Wondering what you should look for when considering the best intranet solution? We’ve got you covered. 

Any selection process should begin with a thorough understanding of what your organization and employees need to be successful. Are you looking for a better way to share information or collaborate? Do you need to integrate existing platforms that your organization uses? Taking the time to assess the problem that you are trying to solve will help you create a list of prioritized requirements to guide your decision.

With this exercise complete, you will need to consider different options to streamline your decision-making process. The most important include the ability to:

1. Help employees work more efficiently 

A user-friendly experience is crucial. The best intranets incorporate intuitive tools that are based on the principles of consumer-grade social media platforms. This encourages even the most technology-shy workers to get involved, with little — if any — training. Intuitive ways to publish and share information will motivate people to create their own content and to use the intranet to enhance their work. This includes an easy to use Content Management System as well as the ability to quickly share information with a defined community of employees such as a project team. 

Robust search is essential. One of the most important attributes of an intranet is the ability to contain a wealth of data in one single location. Once the data is stored, enabling employees to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily means that they can serve customers more effectively and be more productive. Employees are used to powerful search engines like Google and will have little patience for platforms that are significantly less effective.

A mobile experience is a must. More than ever before, employees need to be able to work on whatever device they own from wherever they are. Your social intranet experience should be user-friendly and effective on every device.

Third-party integration is key. To eliminate the use of multiple applications and the potential for siloed departments and information, choosing a solution with the ability to integrate with programs like SalesForce and ServiceNow is needed. Keeping everything in one centralized location allows employees to remain productive and efficient.

2. Ensure employees see the information that is relevant to them

Content should find people. In a world of information overload, ensuring that relevant and personalized content finds your employees is critical to business success. This includes content that employees may not know existed.  As consumers, we increasingly expect content to be pushed to us based on our unique browsing habits, geography, and interests. Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google all do this and your social intranet should be no different.

Tailored homepages make it personal. Giving employees the ability to tailor their homepage with relevant content, widgets and information can ensure they achieve the best intranet experience. You can establish this for specific communities of people such as project teams, new employees or even for specific geographies. You can also make confidential information available for selected users. Most organizations will want every employee to see the latest corporate messages and a good intranet solution will enable this information to surface for every user.

3. Align with your business objectives and values

Your intranet should serve an important strategic purpose within your organization, becoming integral to the success of every employee and project. Without an alignment to your goals, your intranet won’t deliver value, leaders will become disinterested and adoption will suffer. 

For example, if your strategic business goal is to expand globally, your intranet needs to be able to support employees through collaboration across time-zones, translation features and remote access. It will need to be able to scale and grow with your organization without further technological development and the resulting disruption and cost. 

If your organization aims to encourage innovation and creativity, your intranet will need to be able to facilitate idea generation in real-time. If your organization needs to improve efficiency, integration with other tools and the creation of workflows are likely to be important.

Conclusion

Selecting the best social intranet software for the needs of your organization is critical and encouraging user-adoption is just as important. A social intranet is a significant investment for an organization and can greatly impact productivity and workplace connections, so it’s important to make sure that it adds maximum business value and aligns with your goals.  

Remember, the speed of technological change in today’s digital world means that we expect regular updates, new releases and fresh and exciting thinking from every platform and your social intranet software is no exception, as long as you don’t lose sight of its core purpose. 

A great business tool in the hands of motivated workers is the ultimate recipe for business success. In the words of Steve Jobs “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

Ultimate Guide to Creating a Solid Business Case for Your Intranet
Larraine Solomon

Larraine Solomon

Communications and Change Consultant