The social intranet is growing: what are you doing about it?

Prescient’s Intranet 2.0 Global Study has found that 87% of organizations have at least one social media tool on the intranet, but the statistics also reveal discrepancy in satisfaction, usage and measurement, challenging the teams tasked with implementing social media tools to determine where best to start.

In our complex business environment, taking action becomes challenging. Conflicting data, viewpoints and expectations raise questions that can stimulate analysis rather than activity: will we gain market share? How can we realize efficiency? Are we attracting and retaining the right talent? But in a dynamic market, stasis can lead to falling behind more agile competitors.

At times like these, answering a simple question can result in the strongest course of action: “What are you going to do about it?” It emphasizes personal responsibility, and challenges one to take action.

It’s a useful question to ask after reviewing highlights from Prescient’s second Intranet 2.0 Global Study, which demonstrate that we are entering the era of the social intranet. But while the numbers from the study provide compelling evidence that intranet 2.0 tools are exploding, the social intranet is still rare.

To be fair, implementing an enterprise-wide social intranet is extremely challenging, because it involves addressing three seismic shifts in the business landscape: radical technology developments in which lightweight, consumer grade tools offer similar performance to enterprise-class systems; major demographic changes, with the net generation entering the workforce and leading edge boomers exiting; and an increasing emphasis on knowledge work.

Unless you’re the CEO, you don’t have responsibility for dealing with all three issues. But you do have responsibility for doing something, and knowing where to begin is the first of three actions you can take to introduce the benefits of the social intranet to your organization.

Action 1: Work within your locus of control

A former boss liked to say, “If you want to solve world hunger, pick a street.” The statement reminds one of the benefits of getting started on a small, attainable initiative that will lead to a more significant benefit. Prescient’s study reveals that the majority of social media tools are deployed on a departmental level, not enterprise-wide.

While this pattern delays the delivery of value to the entire organization, it does indicate that individuals and departments are acting within their locus of control, an effective starting point, provided they have an eye on the greater good and are gathering and sharing best practices to help the organization see how it can benefit from these tools. For tips on how to pursue this approach, read Social Media is Changing Your Business: Are you listening?

Action 2: Establish a governance model

According to the survey, one of the fastest growing intranet 2.0 technology is social networking. Given that this tool enables organizations to address a critical business need in today’s hyper competitive world—connecting knowledge workers to one another and breaking down silos within complex, geographically dispersed work environments—the trend is not surprising.

Unfortunately, the survey also reveals that 42% of organizations do not have governance standards or policies. An intranet governance model details the ownership and management structure, roles and responsibilities of those involved with the intranet. Specifically:

  • Ownership structure (organization chart)

  • Roles and responsibilities of owners, direct reports, content and application owners

  • Decision making process and procedures

  • Policies and standards

Without a governance model, which can be developed at no to very low cost, organizations will be challenged to raise the benefits of social media from the departmental level to the enterprise as a whole. Even worse, they may perpetuate silo-based interaction and lose the benefits of the collective efforts of the entire organization. Learn what to do about this requirement by reading Social Intranet Governance

Action 3: Establish your baseline

Web-based technology is very measurable, and we exist in a business world in which data is essential for making decisions, measuring progress and securing buy-in. So it is completely unacceptable that according to the survey, nearly a quarter of organizations still don't know how often employees are using the intranet and 89% of organizations do not track the ROI of social intranet initiatives.

Given this lack of data, it is no surprise that while executive satisfaction with the social intranet has increased, only 35% of executives have satisfaction levels that are good or very good. If the team pitching the executives on social media tools have no data, how can the executives set an expecation, good or bad?

Because the trend is new, you shouldn’t worry about whether the data is positive or negative, your only concern should be whether it exists or not. Read Finding ROI: Measuring the Value of Intranet Investments to understand where to get started.

Compelling Benefits

While social media challenges organizations and individuals to make complex decisions, Prescient’s ROI article offers compelling benefits to those organizations that implement them based on a plan that aligns with organizations' unique goals. And early adopters have demonstrated that those benefits are delivered first by individuals that determine what they are going to do about it, acting within their locus of control, securing consistent support within a governance model and measuring their results.

Register now for the accompanying webinar, in which Toby Ward will expand upon on the survey’s findings and explains why it matters to you.

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