Intranets have changed drastically over the last few years. Traditionally they were very static affairs, designed to serve up content to a fairly uninvolved audience. They might contain a newsletter or a canteen menu, but little else in the way of really dynamic or useful functionality. As the consumer web has evolved, people have come to expect more from their company and enterprise systems. The 'millennial' generation expect more in terms of technology but also in the ways their employers engage with them. These information workers are used to the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter - they are used to new ways of communicating. They accept as normal things like open communications across networks, status updates and digital collaboration. So the static Intranet has had to evolve to meet these needs. First came the sort of content management systems that Websites have been using for years. Suddenly Intranets could support dynamic and rich content. Then document management arrived, and systems like SharePoint showed companies that they could operate an Intranet that was also a valuable business tool. Then came social. Enterprise Social Networking is the next big evolution in Intranet design. Here at Beezy we really believe that social has a big role to play in any Intranet style system. In this post we will explore three reasons why.
There are many reasons to make an Intranet social, each bringing a raft of benefits. Let’s look at three of the main reasons:
Social Intranets are more transparent and less hierarchical than their old fashioned counterparts. Employees feel more engaged because they directly talk to colleagues and even senior management in ways that were never previously possible. A social Intranet means the average employee is more aware of company strategy, feels more accountable for it and is aware of the need for everyone to pull in the same direction. Employees can more easily access communications from executives who might be regularly posting status updates, answering questions in a group or writing blog posts. With a social Intranet communication information is no longer created at a single point in the organisation, like the HR department. It is no longer ‘top down’. It can be created by anyone at any time, accessed from anywhere, and shared and commented on in new and exciting ways.
Todays employees no longer work from their email inbox or from a document library. They don’t use fileshares, or store documents on their Windows desktop. They are used to working with data in more modern ways. They are used to sharing files online, syncing quickly offline, and collaborating through a browser with people on the other side of the world. A social Intranet supports these new means of collaboration. A social Intranet allows employees to get more done in less time, and supports modern working lifestyles. Work from home? A social Intranet can be accessible from anywhere. Work different hours to your colleagues? A social Intranet lets you tap into the company culture when you need to. With a social Intranet employees can easily collaborate company wide or even beyond the boundaries of the organization.
Old fashioned static Intranets stored knowledge that was uploaded or added by administrators or page editors. They did not generate or capture fresh information. This is where social systems differ greatly. Social Intranets are capable of capturing knowledge in ways more traditional systems cannot even comprehend. Tacit information - the water cooler chat, the tip about a client, or casual lessons learned - is naturally stored and indexed by social systems. The very nature of an Enterprise Social Network, with its chat and status tools, means knowledge can be looked at in a whole new way.
There are many more benefits to think about, we have just touched here on three of our favourites. At Beezy we believe that social systems almost have the ability to take on a life of their own. The ways and means of their implementation often results in benefits and advantages that could never be predicted. They in effect become living breathing business tools, engaging employees and adding value every day.
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