Intranet and digital strategy trends 2012 (in France but..)

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Summary : collaboration matters, wait-and-see attitude toward social network, focus on governance and digital strategy…here somme of the conclusions we can draw from the intranet and digital strategy observatory 2012 in France. Behind this ackowledgement, a good news : what may look like a very cautious attitude seems to mean that organizations are assessing their past initiatives and begin to think in terms of global strategies. A time for reflection before starting on more solid and sustainable foundations ?

French consulting company Arctus recently published their intranet and digital strategy observatory.450 french speaking organizations of any size and from multiple industries have been surveyed, what gives us a quite precise overview of what’s happening. The local nature of the survey may also be helpful to compare with other similar studies and understand the cultural differences to make judicious decisions, don’t make mistakes about what people really expect and understand the maturity of the audience they target.

I won’t go into every detail of this very rich report but will focus on some points that interest me more than others.

First, it’s very interesting to consider two trends jointly : the raise of collaboration tools and a wait-and-see attitude towards enterprise social networks. Paradoxical when we know that ESN are often shown as the cornerstone of collaboration as it should be and will certainly be in a near future.

In my opinion, the reason is collaboration does not means the same thing for everyone. On this point I advise you to read these recent posts from Jane McConnell d’une part, and Greg Lowe. On the other hand, opposing structured and emergent collaboration is not the right approach. They complete rather than compete but it’s obvious that the first is more obvious as it’s about instant productivity vs. enriching knowledge to have a long term impact. Last point that may explain this wait-and-see attitude toward social networks : its not only about how work is organized but about postures to adopt in terms of management and collaboration. People being the low factor in any transformation, we can think organizations are having a little break to let things go their way at their pace.

It confirms a trend I also perceive on the field : don’t neglect day to day operations vs. “over the flow” approaches that have certain benefits but are less predictable and, most of all, staggered.

But, in the end, future is neither one nor the other…but both. And that’s obviously an emerging trend : the progressive integration in the same system of communication, publishing, collaboration and enterprise networking tool is actual.

That leads us to talk about governance and the report clearly highlights that things are getting more and more structured on this side. Roles definition, regulation bodies dedicated to ESNs, professionalization of stakeholders are strong signals. We can even think that this work on governance is a needed preliminary to making all approaches converge and help ESNs find their place in the whole system. As a matter of fact, the report clearly shows that ESNs are still in search of sponsors….

Adapted governance and convergence of communication, collaboration,…etc. strategies seems to be mandatory before the social stack find its place. That’s not a surprise because, by nature, social tools are protean and designed to deal with unpredictable issues. So it’s not obvious to tell who owns then in terms of leadership…if anyone does.

Conclusion : the digital cornerstones of the organization are converging before a new start can happen and social tools can be integrated as a layer and not as a silo.

My bet for next year : I’m quite sure that, once this consolidation phase achieved, a new matter will emerge. I’m thinking of interoperability that is what logically comes once the questions about how to position tools have been solved. Then we’ll be clearly heading toward digital workplaces.

collaboration, Communication, digital workplace, gouvernance, intranet, réseaux sociaux d’entreprise, réseaux-sociaux