Intranet 2.0: social revolution at the office?
Magazine Contact #22
The intranet per se is not new and its usefulness is increasingly gaining acceptance in the light of impressive study results. For instance, a recent meta-study attests that each member of staff wastes 1.1 hours of working time every day searching for information which, with a company-wide intranet, would be available to him/her at the touch of a button.*
More interactivity, transparency and quality in communication.
The potential revolution in the intranet system is primarily linked to an increase in interactivity which should improve the quality of communication. For example, “Facebook at Work” (currently in the beta phase at major clients such as Heineken and Royal Bank of Scotland) aims to overcome the hierarchies within a company. Similar to classic Facebook, interest groups can be formed and contributions can be liked. In the social intranet all participants are equal – at least, this is the vision. Another criterion is transparency in communication. The social intranet aims to crack information and communication silos. From knowledge for the few to knowledge for all – the focus is on direct exchange by means of discussion forums, chat rooms, and internal wikis.
One major topic is data security. Do companies really wish to entrust their internal communication to products of platforms like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, even if these claim to have the highest security standards? LinkedIn, for example, is working on services which will make it possible for internal company staff to network and communicate with one another. A certain lethargy among employees could also prove an obstacle to this social revolution as it is difficult to break down conventional patterns of behaviour. How long will it take for staff to say farewell to the conventional email for internal communication? Or even to become more digitally active and social by command? Another aspect is freedom of speech. Is it possible to deal with criticism within the company – at all levels? Apart from this, internal human resources will be necessary to observe the forums and intervene in cases of doubt.
The social intranet could potentially unleash a revolution at the office. At any rate, technology supplies the preconditions, but what about the user, the human factor? This depends very much on company culture and also on how the whole issue is lived out, promoted, and implemented.