Originally published by Vanessa DiMauro on the Jive Software website on November 3, 2016.


A New Day in Corporate Collaboration Is Dawning

Economists, researchers, and journalists are now making the connection between an organization’s collaboration environment and its ability to innovate. They’re also seeing its impact on its overall financial performance. And what, you may ask, is at the center of an organization’s ability to collaborate in the digital age? Their intranet.


Today’s intranet – aka the interactive intranet – is much more than a static tool or information repository


It’s a powerful portal to knowledge and a gateway to collaboration. That’s because interactive intranets are no longer centered on sharing completed content–they’re optimized to promote the creation of content. They bring together divisions, departments, groups, and individuals to flesh out ideas and co-create solutions. They yield faster access to information, break down geographical boundaries, and–most importantly–advance competitive advantage.


So why are interactive interactive intranets essential to the modern work environment?


The good people at Jive Software, leading social software provider, recently published an interesting e-book: “From Fragmentation to Connection: How IT, Corp Comms and HR Professionals Can Unite People, Information, and Systems for Better Company Performance.” They created the book to outline the key concepts related to interactive intranets and educate business leaders on the impact these systems can have on the top and bottom line.


As someone who writes about, teaches, and works with firms to develop digital business solutions, Jive sent me an early copy of the e-book and invited my reflections. Here are some key points that caught my attention:


1. They Provide Strategic Value Across Corporate Functions and Enhance Employee Productivity

Business leaders who haven’t seen a fully functional, interactive intranet in action may not realize the strategic value they can deliver. Jive’s e-book brings the interactive intranet to life.


The book includes multiple use cases and real-world examples that juxtapose the old-school intranet way of doing things against the interactive intranet way of doing things. In the process, it’s easy to see how an interactive intranet can have a positive impact on all sorts of processes in every corporate department–including HR, IT, Corporate Communications, Sales and Marketing.


I was particularly struck by the connection among interactive intranets, email, and cost savings. Let’s look at some data points…


  • Research on multi-tasking shows that knowledge workers check their email up to 74 times a day, or 11 times per hour.

  • Combine this with findings from a recent Harvard Business Review study that shows that shifting our attention from one task to another, as we do when we’re monitoring email, reduces employee productivity.

  • Consider also a 2015 study by Microsoft that finds that checking email not only lowers productivity but also increases employee stress levels.

  • Then overlay data from the Jive ebook that suggests that interactive intranets can result in a 21% reduction in email load.


If you connect the dots, these combined findings suggest that a well-supported interactive intranet could significantly free staff up to focus on the tasks on hand rather than email monitoring, which could yield an increase in productivity and output–all while making employees more relaxed. Talk about a win-win situation!


2. They Facilitate Real-time Feedback That Helps You Shape Your Business Strategy

The e-book echoes what I have seen firsthand with the organizations I work with: interactive intranets can bridge the gap between objectives and implementation in several critical ways.


Using an interactive intranet lets you share aspects of your business strategy for specific feedback. This is one way to see if the plan will withstand the litmus test of employee acceptance. After all, they are the ones who will be responsible for executing it.


The interactive intranet is also a perfect vehicle to gauge how well an already-introduced strategy has been internalized. By collaborating and communicating via messages, videos, documents, polls and more, business leaders can then reinforce the strategy where it needs further explanation.


3. They Make Search Sexy

I was excited to see that Jive’s e-book mentions the impact that an interactive intranet’s federated search function can have on the organization. While a seemingly small point, it is in fact a hidden gem!


Search has long been the Achilles heel of corporate collaboration. Before the interactive intranet, knowledge workers lost hours, even days, trying to put their finger on the information they need. And far too many work products suffered significant setbacks because of rework or redundancy.


Interactive intranets have the inherent ability to simultaneously search multiple resources–including documents, people, places, discussions, and questions. They make finding information easier, faster, and more efficient than ever before. That’s an incredibly significant development–especially since findability is the cornerstone of speed, efficiency, collaboration and competitive advantage.


4. They Help Your Employees Become Company Advocates

The e-book does a great job of demonstrating the impact an interactive intranet can have on a company’s discrete HR and Corporate Comms functions. But I’m jazzed about the collaborative opportunities that are possible when these two functions join up.


Think about it: HR teams are using interactive intranets to engage employees, reduce onboarding time and improve employee satisfaction. Corp Comms teams are using interactive intranets to share messages across the organization, and track and measure the message’s sentiment, reach and engagement.


Engaged and connected employees make the role of Corporate Comms easier. When employees have access to critical information and have a way to respond, ask questions and get answers–they are able to serve as employee advocates who cascade corporate messages across their professional channels. And when collaboration happens at this level, it is truly poetry in motion.


5. They Solve One of IT’s Biggest Pain Points

It is no secret that a huge challenge for IT departments is managing disconnected systems and maintaining corporate standards–especially when so many tool purchases are happening outside IT’s remit.


Too many tools, too many systems, and the burden of jumping between applications gets in the way of effective collaboration. Plus, the cost and time burden on IT to support this sea of tools is substantial.


The vision has always been convergence–where employees can read, think, write and co-create in a single environment. The e-book spells out how interactive intranets can reduce complexity and fragmentation, easing the management burden on IT, and providing users with an integrated communication and collaboration experience.



So What's the Big Takeaway?

Jive’s “From Fragmentation to Connection: How IT, Corp Comms and HR Professionals Can Unite People, Information, and Systems for Better Company Performance,” offers a thoughtful analysis of how an interactive intranet is essential to success in the digital age. In 2016 and beyond, it’s hard to imagine how a mid-to-large organization could function, let alone thrive, without one.