As published in Social Media Today
Social Intranet Solutions
IGLOO Software is a company that develops social software providing online business communities. Providing a powerful suite of content management, collaboration and knowledge sharing tools, the cloud-based service gives employees, partners, and customers a voice in their business activities. In speaking with Dan Latendre the CEO of the company, I was educated on five key considerations any company should make in determining their social software needs.
1. Embrace “Social” for the Right Reasons
Everyone’s doing it, and to some very real degree, it’s unavoidable–social, that is. It’s easy for the early adopters in company to readily embrace this new, necessary channel, but doing so well, requires some forethought. Like any software investment, it is important to approach a social software initiative steadily and objectively, creating a clear business case which identifies the purpose and goals of the investment, along with metrics for how you plan to measure its success (for example leveraging social analytics tools). By treating your initiative as a long term, strategic investment rather than a quick fix, you can set more realistic expectations for both sponsors and employees, and maximise your opportunities to demonstrate value and, in turn, bring about change.
2. Part Tech, But All People
Sure, a new software solution is all about technology, but adoption of it is all about people. Introducing a successful social intranet initiative is partly about the technology, but also about encouraging employees to think and work in more social and collaborative ways. Changing the culture of a company requires the support and involvement of all levels of management. Companies should take heed of this migration. Additionally, involved encouragement from senior figures within the organization is equally essential. Have your leaders lead social by example, and use it.
3. Unify Your Separate Business Strategies
Companies embarking on a social intranet initiative should ensure that they consider their intranet strategy in the wider context of their overall collaboration and content management strategies, both those on paper, and those that already exist. Many in a medium to larger sized business would be hard pressed to find there doesn’t already exist a certain degree of overlap between technologies between different working groups. So, selecting a single vendor to support and integrate these tools and strategies is essential. This includes considering the openness and migration capabilities between platforms, as well as support for open standards for integration and interoperability.
4. Scale Your Effort
A good social platform is robust with features and capabilities, but an organization needn’t launch them all at once. It is often better to avoid presenting your employees with everything on day one, especially if there has been little or no previous use of such social features elsewhere in your organisation. Many companies find it more effective to introduce change gradually. Allow your employees to become familiar with the core new intranet features as they apply to day-in-the-life practice, then later introduce more challenging social features. This phased approach also takes the liability off the initial rollout, and provides the opportunity to collect an on-going conversation with users, gaining feedback, as part of your solution’s evolution.
5. Integration Takes Consideration and Time
If the social intranet is to become a central, embedded part of employees’ daily activities, it is vital that there is tight integration with other applications they are using to carry out their job. Things like existing content management systems, communication systems, and business applications need to fit in. If your social intranet is not sufficiently integrated with email to provide notifications, and allowing individuals to respond, it will likely be met with limited adoption for day-to-day collaboration. Connect your social solution with your broader IT systems and applications environment.