“The Recipe For A Perfect Intranet”: Insights From A Webinar

You can launch a community without a lot of technology behind it!

On February 27, 2019, Jive hosted a web workshop entitled “The Recipe for a Perfect Intranet,” led by Andrew Kratz, President and Founder of Social Edge Consulting. Sharing use cases, best practices and case studies, Andrew showed how to build and engage employee communities in the cloud, and encouraged attendees to make the leap and implement a modern intranet. He pointed out that for some companies, the decision to implement a modern, social intranet is the hardest part – harder than the implementation itself.

You can watch the webcast here if you missed it.

Webinar Poll Results

The webinar wasn’t just an opportunity for us to share some expertise – it also gave us a chance to listen and learn from the audience. For example, we wanted to better understand attendees’ communication and collaboration pain points so Andrew could address those in the webcast session. Here’s what we learned when we surveyed the participants:

As you can see from the chart, a majority (61%) said they struggle with multiple, fragmented communications channels at work. That squares with industry research showing that “app fatigue” is endemic in workplaces; one study found that the average enterprise uses 329 apps (Vanson Bourne Research). In addition, almost 40% of attendees complained that they spend too much time searching for information. That too, accords with industry data. McKinsey reported, for example, that business workers spend 19% of their time looking for information.

While we weren’t happy to see our attendees struggling with these issues, we were delighted to be able to present a solution: modern social intranets, which end fragmentation and simplify work by providing a single, centralized hub for information, communication and collaboration.

Just how aware were attendees of the potential benefits? We measured that, too:  

Forty percent of respondents guessed that social intranets might save 2 hours or less per week per employee. Sixty percent were more optimistic, putting the number at 3-5 hours. That’s a sizable impact, but the actual results are even better. In a study of hundreds of companies, a leading global business consultancy found that organizations using Jive intranets saw average productivity increases of 15% across the entire company. That works out to 6 hours per week per employee, assuming a 40-hour work week.

Q & As

Attendees had many questions, which Andrew addressed at the end of the webinar. We’ve summarized the questions and the answers here (edited for brevity):

Can you describe how Jive adds value over Microsoft Teams?

The Microsoft stack includes many components with overlapping functionality. Users wonder whether they should use SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, etc. for this or that task, leading to confusion and duplicated effort. On the other hand, combining Jive and Microsoft in an optimal way eliminates these conflicts and redundancies, blending the capabilities of the two product lines in one streamlined, easy-to-use and easy-to-navigate environment where each tool has a clear and distinct purpose.

What are your recommendations for an intranet that needs multiple profiles to address different business units (in addition to the corporate intranet)? Our company has multiple sales groups covering different content areas and they all require different profiles.

One way to address the needs of different business units and populations in Jive is to leverage the Groups function. For instance, you can create six different groups for six business units in the company. Each group could contain members of a single business unit only, or you can invite members from other business units to encourage cross-functional collaboration. In addition to Private groups, which are accessible only to designated members, you can create Secret (unlisted) groups, which are invisible to non-members. You can also create externally accessible groups, which can include collaborators from outside your company (partners, contractors, agencies, etc.).

How do you go about building your use cases in a practical way? Are there any recommendations?

There are many ways to do it, with no one-size-fits-all answer. In general though, you should always start by identifying the basic requirements: What are the business objectives? Who are the users? What content and capabilities do you need? To take a typical example from corporate communications, the objective might be to increase alignment between management and employees. The end users are the entire workforce. The key capabilities would be blogging, news streams, announcements, notifications, and polls. And the content would be various communications delivered via those channels.

What are some strategies to create more leadership engagement so the platform gains more traction?

It’s really important that management leads by example to help drive usage and adoption. Even though some leaders may not feel as tech-savvy as younger, “digital native” employees, a modern intranet like Jive is so simple and self-explanatory that anybody can use it. Urge leaders to dive in and join conversations and participate wherever possible. Even seemingly minor contributions, like occasionally posting a comment in a discussion thread, can have a big impact. Leadership blogs are especially effective, enabling executives to communicate with their teams, departments or the business as a whole in a way that’s open and authentic. If leaders are too busy to write the blogs themselves, ghost-writing is always an option. Another powerful way for leaders to engage is to host “ask me anything” sessions and town halls in real time (for instance during lunch hour), where employees can ask questions and interact directly with management.

And remember to steer communications to the community whenever possible. For example, when sending a corporate memo or some other official communication, instead of prompting people to ask questions via email, direct them to a space in the community where they can continue the conversation and get more information.

How should a company monitor and/or control discussions so that the important conversations are healthy and creating a good sense of culture?

Many communities tend to be self-regulating: people adhere to the cultural norms of their company and really don’t go out of bounds. Different company cultures have different standards  for candor and outspokenness, and in general, the users themselves tend to enforce those standards in an organic way. So in most instances monitoring and moderation aren’t necessary. If they are required, there are mechanisms to support that. For instance, all comments can be directed to moderators before posting, but that requires a lot of manpower, and in reality the need for that kind of gatekeeping is very rare.

How do you ensure that engagement continues after implementation and makes collaboration part of that culture? Do you help organizations build scorecards and KPIs to help them track and deliver on that strategy?

That’s where having a dedicated community manager is critical. It’s part of their role to drive engagement and foster productive collaboration after the platform is launched. Community managers can identify early adopters, for example, and encourage them to promote the community to colleagues and leverage the platform for team activities, conversations and collaborative processes. Community managers can appoint group owners and meet with them monthly to ensure that they’re following best practices for engagement and usability.

Blogging and thought leadership are another great way to drive adoption and interest. Companies have lots of smart people, and Jive gives them a chance to share their knowledge and get recognized as experts. They’ll get followers and comments, and that will encourage them to write more. Others are likely to follow suit, and the process builds on itself.

Metrics and KPIs are important for measuring adoption and engagement, and assessing how well the community is performing relative to company goals. Jive provides a rich set of out-of-the-box analytics for this purpose, enabling you to track the number of users, the volume of activity, different types of interactions and more.

Is there a Jive function that would allow a communications person to be delegated to impersonate or ghost write for an executive.

You can do that. It’s even better if you can convince executives to write their own posts, but if that’s not possible, ghost-writing is a good second choice.

How long does it take for you to implement a modern intranet on average?

The time to implement a complete intranet primarily depends on two factors: the pace of the company and company size. Large organizations will probably need several months to fully migrate to a new, modern intranet. Really big, complex intranets with many owners and stakeholders can take longer. That’s not a bad thing, because in those cases you’ll need time to manage the cultural shifts and organizational impacts of transitioning to a new intranet.

Want to learn more about how to implement, launch and grow a modern intranet for your company? You can view the whole webcast on-demand here.

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