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March 7, 2012

Is there such thing as a Social Intranet?

by deirdrewalsh

To explore this question further, I sat down with Tim Zonca Jive’s Director of Product Marketing.

Q: Are companies really replacing their intranets with social business technologies?

In a recent conversation with an industry analyst, he interjected, “You keep using the word ‘intranet’ as you talk about using social business for internal collaboration. Do people really use Jive as their intranet?”  My response: you bet they do. Our customers have been using Jive to connect employees at some of the largest organizations on the planet. For example, Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company, uses our products to foster unity and creativity in the business units in 110 countries. They have found that global collaboration has sparked innovation, saving critical time and money.

Q. What business challenges is the social intranet trying to solve?

Whether you want to replace your intranet, or just give it a facelift by adding a social layer, you need to figure out why. And “better collaboration” isn’t a clear enough reason.

If you don’t know what problems you’re trying to solve, you’ll end up underwhelming and confusing your execs, chasing pointless integrations, distilling a massive vendor list, and wasting time. (Check out this great post from John Stepper on the topic: When your audience says: “No time. No money. No thanks.”)

Regardless the industry, I’ve seen our customers deliver a social intranet to address these main challenges. They want to:

1. Give employees a way to find the information and experts needed to get their jobs done faster, better.

2. Foster a culture of innovation and shorten the time required to take new ideas to market and to implement new ideas within the company.

3. Reduce the costs associated with keeping employees informed, aligned and trained.

Q. Specifically, how does the social intranet help improve internal communication?

I see our customers solve these collaboration problems across a few broad areas of collaboration:

1. Corporate communications: The top-down dissemination of information across the company. This can come in the flavor of communications from execs and HR, career development & training initiatives, and communications steering organizational alignment.

2. Cross-department, cross-organization collaboration: This is the type of collaboration that spurs innovation and connects people to the information and experts, outside of their team, that will help them get their jobs done better, faster.

3. Team, department collaboration: Working better as a team, for example marketing coordinating product launch activities, sales teams working around opportunities, R&D collaborating on product development, support solving customer issues.

Q. Show me the results.  How do we know this is successful?

Don’t forget why its important to solve these challenges: Value.  According to Social Business Value Survey results, by using social technologies, Jive customers see a 32% increase in ideas generated and 25% decrease in onboarding time.

Q. What else is important to understand about social intranets?

It is important to have integrations with key intranet technologies and back-end systems. Providing rich integrations with common systems and apps like SharePoint, Office, Outlook, along with a powerful integration layer for custom integrations should be assumed as givens for any social intranet platform. Likewise, a great mobile experience for workers is critical for effective internal collaboration.

Q. What’s the #1 thing people exploring intranets should takeaway?

Overall, I think social intranets empower end users to collaborate more efficiently, and inevitability helping solve key business challenges.

What’s your take? Are you trying to address these challenges? Is your current intranet cutting it? Where do you think social business technology can help most?

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