Remember the promise of the intranet? It was supposed to be the place where you could go to connect with colleagues, find documents, collaborate on projects, and get work done.

 

And then reality sank in.

 

What we were actually given was a set of static brochure sites where we could successfully find something 3 out of 5 times when we needed to, and eventually we just ended up emailing the relevant person/department rep after a fruitless search. No real work was getting done; collaboration didn’t improve, and our email inboxes got out of control.

 

What happened to this so-called Promised Land?

 

Looking at the way my 12-year-old son interacts with his friends — his idea of collaboration is much different than I remember at that age. Back then, my idea of collaboration was to call my friend and ask what answer he got for #4 on his homework assignment. Now, my 12-year-old is collaborating on PowerPoint presentations online and dividing up work between 5 to 15 of his classmates. This process sounds a lot like what many companies have been trying to achieve with an intranet. And in case you didn’t do the math, let me do it for you. My kid is the one you want to hire in 10 years. Facilitating this type of workflow with collaborative technology is becoming table stakes for attracting the best talent. Who are you missing out on because you haven’t anted up?

 

I believe that the social intranet has begun the process of making good on its original promise. But before everyone starts to celebrate in the streets, there are a few things to discuss about bringing a social intranet into your company.  The hardest part of introducing a social intranet is the change management that revolves around introducing a new tool to your colleagues.

 

There are a variety of ways to do this, but a combination of both wide and deep use cases works best from the installs I have either implemented or witnessed.

 

A wide use case would involve HR, IT, or any other department that touches most of the enterprise. These use cases will try to capture a little ROI multiple times. A wide use case is also a good way to introduce your company to the new intranet. I guarantee that if you post the company holiday schedule on your new social intranet, people will come check out the new portal and hopefully stay for the other riveting content you have posted. This also involves moving from a broadcast type of corporate communication to a subscription type. Now, the information is available anytime the user wants it.

 

The other side of the coin is the deep use case. This involves engaging a business unit to move their process, hopefully one that might be duplicated within other business units, into the new platform. This new way of using a social intranet can model the benefits for some business units and bring hope for the future to others.

 

Deep use cases really bring the notion of moving work into the social intranet as a viable option instead of presenting it as “just another place I have to log into”. Integrations with other systems such as SharePoint as a powerful backend content management system or Box as an extension to external users continue to build on the notation that users really can get all of their information from one portal.

 

Some common stumbling blocks or hurdles we see when people roll out new social intranets are manual log-ins (no one wants to remember another password), lack of relevant content and ghost towns (fun to visit once but no reason to come back), and architecture that just duplicates the org chart. The way to defeat these obstacles are enabling single sign-on, ensuring relevant and new content is posted in groups, and architecting around use cases, not the org chart.

The modern portal or social intranet also allows for integrations with other systems in the enterprise ecosystem. If I don’t work in HR, why do I have to go into the HR web app every day? Just to clock in and out? That doesn’t make sense when I can probably do that in a smartphone app if I look hard enough.

 

Through smart integrations, the social intranet can become the focal point of where we can actually find all the things we need to do our job. The rule should be that unless a majority of an employee’s daily work needs to be done in a specific application, they shouldn’t have to log into that application every day. Sadly, this is the exception as opposed to the rule. With Jive’s ability to integrate APIs into new Tiles within Places, there isn’t an excuse not to find these efficiencies within your enterprise. Add the ability to use Jive Anywhere to bring relevant content from any web site or web app into your team’s group, and the promise of the social intranet gets a little closer to fulfillment.