Intranets are made for working

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I’m afraid not as many people as we can expect are aware of that when social media in emerging within the enterprise.

As a matter of fact I attented one of Jane McConnell’s famous breakfasts, which theme was “2.0 and globalisation, collaboration and personnalisation” a couples of day ago and three points held my attenion.

• Stop focus on the 2.0 buzzword which doesn’t mean anything for most people and is confusing for those who aren’t in and stick to what O’Reilly said about it : “it’s the web as it was supposed to be”. For the unitiated, 2.0 means “erase and replace” what’s is frightening within an organization although the truth is we’re just adding functions to explore what we couldn’t explore before.

• Jane identified three kind of companies : those for which the intranet is a business tool, those for which it’s not still clear and those for which it’s rather a top-down media dedicated to sending information from the enterprise to the people. The first are more forward in tools integration, personalisation of contents, and web 2.0 experimentation.

• The first point was confirmed by some questions from the audience. For example “I’m in charge of internal communication, with the raise of UGC how can I ensure structuring information is diffused ? Isn’t there a conflict ?”. Answer : not at all. One tool, one use. New tools will allow you to explore new kinds of communication but they don’t question the use of appropriate communication tools to structure the organization.

Web 2.0 tools favor day to day interactions, knowledge sharing, co-thinking, co-building…which are people day to day tasks. This unstructured part of their job isn’t incompatible with processes and control : it takes place within them. The more intranets will be considered as a business tool, the more attention will be paid to the so called intranet 2.0 tools, and their use in the context of business processes. This is one of the main differences between intranet and internet : the internet is a space where people behave as they feel like, the intranet is a space where purposes are business-driven. Whenever they are web n or n+1n tools are made to fulfill business needs that have to be clearly identified.

This reminds me of a discussion that took place on my french blog exactly one year ago. We were arguing about how to define an intranet. My answer was that I couldn’t give a satisfactory definition of an intranet, but what I could say was it was the reflect of an enterprise’s management and organization. Jane’s study gave us the proof last week : the enterprise that wants to improve synergies between individuals, take benefits from connexions and relationship between its people and between people and information, makes everything possible to go beyond structuring tools in order to make the intranet support the way it wants its people to work.