The Intranet (not to be confused with the far more fun INTERnet) still plays a big role in the way business operate internally. Making a vast number of resources available at the click of a mouse, or prod of a touchscreen and allowing to business to become far more effective at internal communication.
But is it really necessary for business to start up their own internal social networks? Just how much of a positive effect does the social aspect of the intranet have? Is it a useful communication tool that increases productivity? Or is it a legitimate distraction to be exploited by the work-shy employee?
The big case study for a fully fledged social business is IBM. The high-waisted Ted Stanton gives a fairly long speech here about how IBM has become a big social business through it’s use of the intranet.
In his speech he has some pretty hard facts about the effectiveness of the social aspect of the intranet.
At IBM there are over 30,000 specialist communities, 18,000 blogs and 12 million chats every day. And employee surveys show it makes people happier and they are doing deals through the intranet. Their guidelines were written by employees in a Wiki.
Everyone is encouraged and guided to build personal profiles in social media at IBM too. They have their own social network and people can communicate what they’re doing through it.
The social network is a great way of breaking down the physical barriers of the workplace. The hierarchy becomes almost obsolete as CEOs read blog posts of any employees from any level, and in turn make themselves more accessible. Communication becomes more free flowing and more frequent, which in turn increases productivity.
IBM is still not perfect, the whole company is obviously not connected thorough the social aspect of the intranet, but it’s certainly well on it’s way to becoming a vastly social business.
But as with any social media, responsibility is the key, whether you’re IBM or any other business with your own social network. The fact that the social network is hosted within the intranet means the whole experience will be more sterilised than having a social network on a public site such as Facebook. Moderating what you post is crucial. Whilst a gossip session around the water cooler ends at the water cooler, the intranet is a much more lasting and long reaching method of communication. One slip up in post and it cause a lot of trouble.
Whilst the use of social media across the intranet is obviously beneficial, it is important that the business invests a balanced amount of time in business side as well as the social side. You could easily get caught up with customising your online profile and browsing the blogs and posts from others, and waste the day away.
The social business is a far more effective and productive business if the social media element is treated in just the right way.