Social software that powers Intranet 2.0

By Toby Ward − “Looking for greater flexibility and support for more ad hoc processes, employees have responded with a more bottom-up approach, in some cases circumventing official information systems,” said CMS Watch Founder Tony Byrne and contributing analyst Jarod Gingras, the principal authors of The Enterprise Social Software Report 2008.

In other words, if your organization hasn’t embraced and standardized social software, your employees will begin installing it and using it without your permission. I know of a client that only found out recently that 15% of its employee base had voluntarily joined a dedicated company Facebook site. In addition, at BT, 4,000 employees formed their own “BT Facebook” site. BT took note and in response built their own social networking site called MyBT (see The power of Intranet 2.0).

If your organization hasn’t already developed an Intranet 2.0 plan (social media plan), you would do well to develop one before employees develop their own. Such plans ideally contain the business case for moving to Intranet 2.0.

Byrne and Gingras cite a number of business benefits to implementing enterprise social software.

Hard benefits

  • Reduce expenses

  • Increase productivity

  • Increase customer retention

Soft benefits

  • Improve internal communication

  • Improve internal collaboration

  • Improve employee morale and retention

I cited a number of positive ROI examples, or link to others, in Intranet 2.0: A must-have.

While a plan is a must, an even more difficult task may be the selection of the actual software that will power your Intranet 2.0 – there are now hundreds of solutions on the market. The Enterprise Social Software Report dissected the capabilities of 20 different social software (social media) solutions for Intranet 2.0 (or Web 2.0) including those from:

  • IBM (Lotus Connections)

  • SharePoint

  • Connectbeam

  • Facebook

  • Google (Blogger)

  • MediaWiki

  • Socialtext

  • and others

CMS Watch's social media vendors matrix

Each of these solutions were reviewed for their business service uses including:

  • Blog

  • Wiki

  • Social Ranking

  • Project Tracking & Participation

  • Multimedia

  • Info Filtering

  • File Sharing

  • Web Conferencing

  • Discussion Forums

  • Presence / Instant Messaging (IM)

  • People Finding (e.g. social networking)

All of this is rated according to various Administration & System Services (e.g. security, analytics, etc.) and various corporate scenarios (e.g. Enterprise Collaboration, Project Collaboration, etc.).

Some interesting notes regarding the two big solutions, SharePoint and Lotus Connections / Quickr:

  • Lotus Connections / Quickr:

      • strong social networking

      • strong presence and IM tools

      • excellent integration with Notes and emerging Outlook connectors, and an innovative Blackberry application

      • “underwhelming blog/wiki” and requires WebSphere Portal for roles and group modules – best for Enterprise Networkin; poor for Project Collaboration

  • Microsoft SharePoint (MOSS 2007): 

      • broad range of third-party plug-ins

      • lightweight portal services including bundled applications and lightweight document and records management services into social applications

      • search works well in an all-SharePoint environment

      • almost all native services are weak compared to competitors

      • near complete absence of social networking, social tagging & Bookmarking

      • surprisingly weak integration with Outlook – best for Project Collaboration (e.g. team sites); poor for Enterprise deployments

In short, Lotus is a better enterprise solution; SharePoint is a better project or team solution.

Regardless, 20 different products are reviewed in detail (from 10 – 25 pages per product review) and it’s a worthwhile read if you are looking at implementing social media or Intranet 2.0 software. I recommend buying CMS Watch’s Enterprise Social Media Report 2008 (they offer a 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee).

Additional Reading:

Want to learn more about what others are doing? View the Intranet 2.0 Global Survey

Toby Ward is the CEO and founder of Prescient Digital Media. For more information on creating a social media strategy for internal audiences, check out Prescient's Intranet 2.0 Blueprint and download our updated Social Media Checklist.

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