Intranet Management: Social Networking and Mobile Accessibility

With intranets quickly becoming a top priority for organisations and intranet teams subsequently growing in size and incorporating new technologies, social intranets and mobile accessibility have been perceived as the road to future intranet growth. Intranet development is gradually being looked upon as a central communication environment for collaborations within an enterprise. According to Jakob Nielsen, the development of flawless internal communications within organisations has necessitated cutting across multiple technology platforms – be it the Web or mobile devices.

Keeping these platforms in sync and accessible to the employees of the organisation has, in turn, necessitated the requirement for a greater amount of resources.

The Social Intranet

The intranet 1.0 or the “static intranet” has encountered a general lack of interest due to its static and stale content. As a one-way medium of broadcasting, it has inhibited access to knowledge. With too much control from HQ, almost all intranets have remained undervalued and under-utilised.

Since the end of 2009, the incorporation of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, communities, forums, groups, social tagging, bookmarking, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) etc) in intranet designs has paved the way for the “social intranet” or the Intranet 2.0. These features help the social intranet to facilitate easy capturing and sharing of knowledge, and simultaneously support spontaneous and structured collaboration within enterprises. In the years to come, organisations will increasingly draw upon the power of social media to empower their corporate intranets. Some of the features of Intranet 2.0 are described below:

1. Intranet blogs – through in-house blogs, enterprises enable employees to share their knowledge and experience among colleagues.

2. Wikis – storage for knowledge assets; a wiki promotes commenting, tagging, bookmarking and sharing, and helps to increase the collective IQ.

3. Communities – employees have the opportunity to share information about their experience, specialisations, photos, contact details, etc through community profiles.

Intranet 2.0 facilitates increased visibility of the pulse of the organisation, accelerated resource and expertise availability, enhanced flexibility in workflow, reduction in e-mail counts and recruitment of Generation Y employees, thus putting the Web 2.0 technology into operation behind the firewall.

Hit by the global economic downturn and driven by the need to reduce their IT spending, companies are looking for an economical intranet solution. Therefore the need arises for cloud computing services such as outsourced Sharepoint, Yammer, SocialCast, ThoughtFarmer and the like. Each of these has revolutionised internal communication within organisations through the help of a private and secure enterprise social network. It has been demonstrated that by moving from a one-to-many to a cloud-based, many-to-many publishing model where all employees can add and edit content on the intranet can bring about the following changes:

1. Increased usage: including increases in readership outside the usual group boundaries and information silos.

2. Reduction in cost as a result of a reduction in the need for one directional publishing.

3. An edge in strategic hiring over competitors.

4. A united geographically dispersed workforce with a real sense of community.

The Mobile Intranet

Among the organisations with winning intranets at the Intranet Design Annual 2010, 30{f6a2710aa095913ec9934fad59095fb27ca562565e2c0098b5ccc108ff0eb746} of the intranets had come up with a separate mobile website for users. This percentage doubled to 60{f6a2710aa095913ec9934fad59095fb27ca562565e2c0098b5ccc108ff0eb746} of the winners in 2011, so it can be stated that organisations are valuing the future increased scope of corporate intranets through mobile accessibility. Intranet websites on mobile devices are expected to evolve further in 2011 and the years beyond. Through testing on mobile devices, intranet websites with fewer features have proved to be more accessible than full-featured websites. Companies are therefore trying to design mobile intranets which incorporate the specific features that are indispensable to employees on the go, rather than trying to incorporate the entire company website onto the small screens of handsets.