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What Is A Social Intranet?

Remember the promise of the intranet? Back in the mid-1990s when intranets were born, they were touted as an antidote to many of the ills that plagued corporate knowledge sharing. They were going to liberate content and spread the wealth locked inside information repositories, closed networks, siloed file systems and even physical file cabinets.

And to be fair, intranets were a huge improvement over those older systems. But that was then. Now, the typical intranet is itself old technology – widely perceived as part of the problem, not the solution.

Defining "Social Intranet"

Fortunately, in recent years a new type of intranet has emerged – the social intranet – which addresses these shortcomings. While traditional intranets are based on older, content-centric technologies, social intranets are people-centric. They’re designed to facilitate dynamic interaction, build relationships and drive collaboration. They incorporate all sorts of modern social networking features that enable people to connect, share, work together and stay in sync.

Whereas traditional intranets rely on a few people to curate content and keep everyone informed, social intranets turn everyone into curators and stakeholders, collectively ensuring that information is up-to-date, relevant and brought to the attention of those who need it. Social intranets serve as hubs of interactivity and teamwork—what intranets were supposed to be but never were.

What are the Key Features and Capabilities of a Social Intranet?

Social intranets provide a rich array of capabilities that go far beyond traditional one-way intranets. Some of the key features include:  

  • Discussions and comment strings
  • Private and public groups and spaces, where specific departments, teams and groups work together
  • Collaborative document creation and editing
  • Sharing documents, files and other content
  • Tools for social connection, such as user profiles, status updates, @mentions, following, social bookmarks and tags

One of the most impactful features of a social intranet is the ability to create captivating corporate and executive communications. A leading-edge social intranet should allow you to easily publish articles and blogs that look great and really capture employees’ attention. To complement the content, a great social intranet has powerful search capabilities (aided by social graph analytics), functioning like Google for the enterprise, helping employees rapidly find people, information and content across multiple systems, and saving tons of time.

The most advanced social intranets can actually serve as digital hubs (what Gartner Research calls “activity hubs”) that unite not only people and information, but also external systems (productivity apps, content management, cloud storage, CRMs, etc.) via deep, bidirectional integrations. Information from those systems can be pulled into the social intranet, where it’s much easier to find, share and use for collaboration. Conversely, people working in external systems can access content, colleagues and conversations in the intranet without leaving those systems. With the right integrations and information, actions are automatically synchronized across all environments.

All the connections and interactions that take place on a social intranet can be tracked, analyzed and leveraged by machine intelligence to better understand what each user needs. Advanced social intranets use this understanding to provide personalized experiences, which are tuned to each employee’s work needs, to proactively connect the right people with the right information at the right time.

Best-of-breed social intranets provide a great mobile experience, too, enabling employees to stay informed and productive–even on the go.

How Social Intranets Help Businesses

In contrast to traditional intranets, well-designed social intranets are actually a pleasure to use. They have rich personalized experiences and a captivating consumer-style interface that drives adoption and engagement to all-time highs. The best social intranets, such as Jive, even measure the impact of your communications in real time, so you know your message is getting through.

Productivity

People can work together much more efficiently, getting more done in less time. Companies using Jive, for example, have seen 15% increase in employee productivity on average.

Employee Engagement and Strategic Alignment

Employees are better informed, more aligned and more connected. Jive customers have found that social intranets can increase employee satisfaction by nearly 40%.

Knowledge Sharing and Corporate Memory

Instead of being siloed and invisible, vital knowledge is shared and searchable. The intranet becomes a form of corporate memory, enabling companies to preserve and leverage their collective intelligence.

Cost Savings

Because social intranets are so easy to use and modify, they can save companies millions of dollars in IT support and development costs.