The social intranet features multiple social media tools for most or all employees to use as collaboration vehicles for sharing knowledge with other employees. Based on social technology that millions of us use every day, it enables an often neglected resource to address business challenges common across all sectors: knowledge worker productivity, collaborating across silos, recruitment and retention of talent.
Even if you've not come across the term before, you are quite likely to be familiar with the concept of the "social intranet." As defined by Toby Ward, President of Prescient Digital Media on his Intranetblog, the social intranet is:
An intranet that features multiple social media tools for most or all employees to use as collaboration vehicles for sharing knowledge with other employees. A social intranet may feature blogs, wikis, discussion forums, social networking, or a combination of these or any other Web 2.0 (intranet 2.0) tool with at least some or limited exposure (optional) from the main intranet or portal home page.
In other words, the social intranet is based on social technology that millions of us use every day, enabling an often neglected resource to address business challenges common across all sectors: knowledge worker productivity, collaborating across silos, recruitment and retention of talent, for example.
The increasing familiarity of the tools described by Toby is essential for driving adoption of the social intranet. As the following numbers demonstrate, the spectacular growth of social media stems from the intuitive usability of the tools and their ability to enable us to interact with one another naturally. When combined with seismic demographic shifts and a compelling cost-benefit equation, the social intranet is a term you can expect to hear in board rooms across the world.
Explosive growth in scalable, intuitive technology
Throughout 2009, according to comScore, Social Networking continued to gain momentum with 21.5 million unique visitors in Q4, up 5% from Q1. With a reach of 88%, the category accounts for 2 out of every 5 visits over the Internet in Canada. The category now accounts for 15 percent of all time spent online and 19 percent of all pages viewed in Canada, making it one of the most engaging activities across the Web. In addition,
- 75% of Americans use social technology (Forrester)
- 66% of the global intranet population visits social networks (Nielsen)
- 1,382% monthly growth rate of Twitter users from January to February, 2009
- 5 billion minutes spend on Facebook every day.
With social media now an integral part of our day-to-day personal lives, we will expect it to play a role in our professions.
The Net Generation is in your building
According to Neilsen, 93% of social media users believe a company should have a social media presence, and that includes within your firewall. Millions of people are spending billions of hours on social networking sites because they want to share the OMG cat meme with their friends. But they are also doing so because it enables efficient, productive collaboration with communities around the globe. The Economist reported that Facebook has one engineer for every 1.1 million users, enabling the company to scale extremely rapidly to manage the explosive growth of its platform. And have you ever heard of a suggestion that Facebook needs a help desk?
The intuitive performance of social media technology creates the expectation that companies will make it available to employees. As one client heard from a new hire, "I have better technology in my living room than you're giving me here."
Demographics are an obvious driver for the social intranet, given that a generation that has grown up with digital technology is now on most company payrolls. One Canadian financial institution, for example, has seen Generation Y grow from 10% to 34% of its workforce in six years. At that growth rate, Generation Y will account for over 50% of its workforce in 2012.
How does that affect the workplace? Research suggests that young people may perceive inadequate technology as an indicator of an organizational culture that does not offer them interesting opportunities. Consider a study conducted by IT services firm Telindus, which found that:
- 39 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds would consider leaving if they were not allowed to access applications like Facebook and YouTube.
- A further 21 per cent indicated that they would feel 'annoyed' by such a ban.
- The problem is less acute with 25 to 65 year-olds, of whom just 16 per cent would consider leaving and 13 per cent would be annoyed
But don't expect these concerns to only come from young people. The stats are in, and essentially every demographic within your organization is participating in social media. According to Google Ad Planner, the age distribution across all social sites is:
- 0 - 17: 15%
- 18 - 24: 9%
- 25 - 34: 18%
- 35 - 44: 25%
- 45 - 54: 19%
- 55 - 64: 10%
- 65+: 3%
Learn more about social intranets and how to build engaged communities with our free guide.