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The social intranet - white paper, case study, webinar and a PR stunt
Tuesday, 21st February 2012
The so-called "social intranet" has been the next-big-thing for years. Over the last few days a white paper, a case study, a webinar and a PR stunt on the topic have all caught my eye.
On intranetizen.com, Jonathan Phillips wrote about the problem of measuring the value of a social intranet. He argues that it is the sentiment of employee contributions that is important to measure, not just the volume – "Thirty happy comments irrefutably show thirty happy employees". His post was inspired by reading ThoughtFarmer's white paper "Social Intranets and Employee Engagement".
There was an interesting comment under Jonathan's post though, by Martin White. He raised the question: Why do people frequently assume that people within an organisation are all going to be speaking the same language? And no, he didn't mean that the finance department and the marketing team use a different vernacular, he was talking about multi-national corporations with employees flung far across the globe:
"I was at a meeting recently when a global company told me that English was used in all their offices around the world. I happen to have visited their office in Kuwait, where everyone was speaking and writing in Arabic on Arabic language keyboards. There was just one English keyboard connected up to an old Dell PC and used only for communications with Head Office."
The second thing I spotted was this presentation deck by Socialtext, about its work with Motley Fool. Jingle is a social tool within the business. Jingle is the social intranet tool they've built there, and one of the nice things that comes out of the presentation is the way they are checking whether the project is really working. Feedback forms are embedded on the dashboards that staff use, but most interesting, five random staff are selected each week to be quizzed about their usage, to help shape future requirements. If you are prepared to go through the chore of a marketing sign-up form, there is also a recorded webinar about the project.
Finally, in what was almost certainly more of a PR stunt than an actual serious shift of business practice, Exformatics abolished email. Well, sort of. They only abolished internal email because they needed to use external email with their clients. And their replacement was, of course, the internal social communications tools they themselves sell. It does raise an interesting question about the extent to which a business could go email-free though, completely replacing it with something like Yammer or Google+.
By Martin Belam
Martin Belam is Information Architect for guardian.co.uk. Before joining The Guardian, he worked as an Internet Consultant with organisations like the BBC, Sony, Vodafone and the Science Museum.
Martin also blogs about information architecture and the media at currybet.net and can be found on Twitter as @currybet.
Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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