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Intranet

With so much focus on public social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), many are now questioning how these same social media concepts might be used within the organization.

The fact is that most organizations function exceptionally well precisely because of the real-world social networks that have always existed.  The difference is the name: water cooler conversations, going for a coffee or lunch, meetings, and collaboration.

When technology made its appearance several decades ago, collaboration was improved (or not?) through email and “reply all” on one hand, and by archival intranets on the other.

Today, most organizations strive to improve collaboration, both in real-time and asynchronously.  This is powered equally by increased user fluency with external social networks, increased competitive and economic pressures, and alternative working arrangements (primarily work-from-home).  It is also powered by “network” corporate structures where contractors, partners, and others have long-term collaborative requirements: they may not be employees, but they are definitely insiders.

Unfortunately, in many organizations the desire to improve collaboration is left up to individuals.  As a result, one of four things happens:

  • Staff don’t collaborate efficiently (or at all).
  • Staff use the insecure public social networks to collaborate.
  • Staff set up their own “systems” for their group using public software-as-a-service offerings.
  • Secure internal social media capability is set up, driven collaboratively by IT, HR, and Communications.

Clearly this last option is the most desirable, but what does it really mean?  Here are seven practical internal social media tactics that can get you started:

  1. Internal Chat functionality.
  2. Discussion forums.
  3. The move from internal newsletters, to an internal blog approach.
  4. Collaborative document creation (Google Apps or Office 365).
  5. Ability to Like any particular content on the intranet.
  6. Ability to Comment on any particular intranet content.
  7. Display of most viewed, most liked, featured documents or pages on the intranet.

Yet even if the organization invests in the infrastructure, and even if the pent-up demand for collaboration is huge (it often isn’t), most internal social media efforts are doomed to failure. Success requires two key activities: active senior management engagement, and a formalized launch, training, and support plan.

This week’s action plan: To develop a collaborative culture you will need to start somewhere. This week, inventory your progress based on the ideas in this tipsheet, then select the most pressing obstacle for potential action.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

www.108ideaspace
.com
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com

 

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Very often marketers look to the logo, web, advertising campaigns, and earned media to execute a brand strategy.  But how might they look internally to do the same?  Or rather, where might they look internally to do the same?

One of the most important systems within an organization is the intranet.  While the external website is usually driven by marketing, the intranet is usually driven by the IT group.  And while many IT groups have refocused into a responsive client-service model, the brand and marketing aspects of the Intranet are not usually job one.  (Brand and marketing are reasonably trumped by security, privacy, functionality,  infrastructure, support, and uptime.)

One way of building a powerful intranet is to use our Intranet Maturity Model.  At each level, there is a certain purpose, but there is also a unique dimension of brand and marketing that can become activated:

Level One – Archive:  At this level, the Intranet functions as an archive:  an online version of a departmental policy book married to current organizational news.  There may also be basic legacy system access, or basic functionality.  The better Level One intranets are organized by target users’ needs, not by publishing department.  If people want to learn about marketing or brand – or see it via a common visual identity, a Level One site delivers.

Level Two – Process re-engineering:  At this level, the organization has used tools (such as Journey Mapping) to examine existing internal processes.  These processes are then improved and rebuilt, with the intranet exposing the data and functionality.  Information is collected, processed, and disseminated more effectively, improving the ability to execute the brand promise.

Level Three – Collaboration:  At this level, the Intranet isn’t just used as a data store or a tool to accomplish a task.  The intranet uses real-time “internal” social media to improve collaboration between people.  To start, it can be as simple as having the ability to comment on a page or “like” it.  A fully implemented Level Three intranet provides strategic competitive advantage.  Tools make it possible, but people make it happen.

This week’s action plan:  How well does your existing intranet do the job at each level of the maturity model?  And before you spend significantly on Level Three, are you sure that the foundation (Level One and Two) is sound?

Marketing Insight:  A Level Four Intranet extends collaboration through an Extranet and out from the organization to each key stakeholder group.   Instead of a centralized control, one-to-many model, a Level Four Intranet recognizes the many-to-many relationships that truly differentiate an engaged organization.  And that those relationships are not just inside, but reach out.  (And at the same time, that there is also an important role for the public social media sites.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)

www.RandallCraig.com:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

 

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