According to well known experts in the field, standard social intranets have 3 main downfalls.Here I will explain to you why you do not need to worry about them.
Social intranets have been around for quite some time now. Any re-launch of an intranet is nowadays planned as a social intranet, for which there are loads of ready made tools like JIVE, COYOTE, BITRIX24 etc... And yes, the idea seems appealing! You get an employee information and communication tool that facilitates working together!
However, there are three main downfalls to that thought:
Security of Information or Reach?
One of the biggest touted advantages of social intranet is their reach compared to traditional intranets.
Communication needs reach
And yes, the reach of a social intranet is way higher than just writing a blog post on a traditional intranet. Every employee has an account and can potentially access any information at the touch of a button. Most social intranets also have a responsive website (meaning that they can be viewed on a mobile) but employees have to login every day into it - and honestly, would any of your employees do that? If the answer to that is Yes, then please contact us over the support button, because we would like to know how you do it!!!
Communication actually needs real reach.It means that it should be possible to contact every employee, even though they have not got any access to a computer or are not sitting in the office.
The only solution to this dilemma is that if your social Intranet is reachable via an app over each employee's smartphone. An app does not need to be logged in every day and an app also offers the benefit of allowing push notifications (even if the user is currently not on the app) which DRAMATICALLY increases the reach and engagement of users. Furthermore, it is possible to tailor the necessary push notifications and/or the content to the user, meaning that employees will engage with the app much more as it will help them in their work.
Reach vs Security of Information
The issue of accessibility is often complicated by issues of data protection. Most companies in Europe use a graded security level for each of their data. The normally used categories are:
- Strictly confidential data.
Normally, for real reach, you can only choose information that belongs to categories 1 or 2, which can be easily covered by above mentioned apps. But the problem is that when working on projects, data belonging to categories 3 and 4 often also make their way into the social intranet.
And here is the problem. How do you prevent these Confidential and Strictly Confidential data from diffusing out into the intranet when people are working on projects together? It is near impossible!
SION has thought of a very elegant solution. Interested? Then contact us!
Social intranets miss the two biggest trends in digital collaboration
At the heart of every social intranet are virtual rooms containing document storage, team blogs, task management and wikis. These can be used by every team member to improve collaboration. These team rooms are good for structuring the information in a structured way but they are not ideal for collaboration.
In recent years, there have been some interesting developments in the form of collaboration tools.
In recent years, one form of collaboration has been replacing emails and that is team messaging. Tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have shown how to do collaboration across team groups. After only two years, Microsoft has managed to get 329000 companies to use its tools for internal communications.
But what about the structured data from the social intranet team forums? What about having both in one tool?
The new product SION includes exactly that. At the heart, it is a social intranet and has got these virtual rooms but it also has, exactly like the above mentioned team messaging tools, the possibilities to join groups streams, receive updates on team projects and even video conferencing possibilities. All in one tool.
As the corona crisis has shown, companies will be moving more and more towards remote work. It simply works.
One of the things though that is missing in order to effectively collaborate is seeing the facial expressions of the other person that you are currently phoning with. Yes you can have another tool for it, but that is another tool that you have to spend money on, that increases the confusion of the employees in the multitude of tools that are being used in the company.
It would be ideal if social intranets could catch up on that vital trend. SION is currently the only one that I know that offers Chats, Calls, Video Calls and Conferencing. No more trying to piece together thousands of tools into one working tool collection, and after a short time, one single one fails and the whole IT-construct of your IT company falls together...
Social intranets miss innovations for employee engagement
One of the central duties of an Intranet is that it should support the employee in his day to day tasks, thus increasing the productivity of that employee as well as his engagement. And here all the social intranets fail.
Continuous employee evaluation via gamification
One of the biggest trends where current social intranets completely miss out on is gamification. Computer games rely on the social conditioning of its users. For example, the most popular games use a point system in order to show how far along a person is to leveling his character up and opening up new features for his character etc...
In recent years, other parts of the economy have started taking up on this gamification idea to promote certain behaviour in its users. A good example of this is Class Dojo. Good behaviour in class is rewarded by giving the avatar of a child Plus points or bad behaviour results in Minus points. The psychology behind this is actually quite old, from 1902. The experiment is called Pavlov's Dog.
What about using this gamification to reward productive behaviour or smaller achievements on a continuous basis? Great idea? Then you can read more here!
SION uses this new trend of gamification to further increase the productivity of the employees. Managers or designated employees can give other employees a continuous assessment, thus rewarding productive behavior. At the same time, the employee gets conditioned to be productive and gets a continuous assessment of their performance.
This part has already been discussed extensively above. Current social intranets do not the actual real reach that they claim to have. Over 65% of current employees do not have every day access to a computer terminal. These are not at all reached via traditional social intranets.
Some social intranet apps start to emerge now, but their use is often not as intuitive as one would like and they do not allow the fine-tuned push notification customisation that normal apps should normally have.
SION is based on the lessons learnt running the popular social network International Friends. Its success is mainly due to its mobile first strategy that has allowed International Friends to grow and become an established app in the social network field. The same strategy is also employed in SION, which gives your chances of a successful Intranet launch a huge boost.
Focus on all types of company internal communication
As we have seen in the above, social intranets are good at providing a space for organising documentation and presenting it in a structured way. However, social intranets need to allow much more than that. They need to enable the employee to efficiently collaborate on documents, to efficiently communicate and also to motivate employees. The communication is now all about team messaging. The upper management needs to be able to reach every employee, while the divisional lead needs to be able to be able to talk to the 50 or so employees that are under her area of responsibility, while project teams need to be able to contact all members of the project even though they may come from other areas.
Also, as it became especially clear during the corona pandemic, it is vitally important to have video telephone calls so as to avoid any miscommications and enable us to effectively communicate with each other. It is NOT useful to have this part integrated in another tool and another tool, but it should be directly part of the Social Intranet (effectively moving it to be a Social Collaboration Intranet). The user should not have to jump to another application with a different user experience and a different password etc.
Social intranets have been around for a decade now. The standard social intranets though have three glaring downfalls:
- Social Intranets claim to have a big reach, however with a big reach comes also the problem of data security, with confidential data often being spread to non-confidential places
- Social Intranets miss the two biggest trends in collaboration: Team messaging and Video conferencing
- Social Intranets miss innovations in employee engagements.
All in all, if you set up a social intranet, be sure to consider the above points as your new social intranet may soon become obsolete because nobody will use it.
However, there are ways around the above problems. A new type of Social Intranet is currently rising, aimed at Small to Medium sized businesses with the aim to provide a complete digital workplace. SION belongs to these new types of Social Intranets.