A wide variety of content, engaged users, accompanied with a solid adoption rate are just a few of the things that can be found on an organization's wishlist when deploying an intranet. But with Gartner reporting 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve intended benefits through 2015, I ponder where organizations go wrong.
The convergence of social, mobile and cloud technologies are growing in familiarity and are no longer considered "foreign terms".
With "social, mobile and cloud" showing up repeatedly in reports conducted by industry analysts, it is no wonder why more and more organizations are attracted to deploying an enterprise social software solution. According to Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis Group, he claims "we're going to see a high-water mark in 2013 as organizations put social in the center of the way they operate like never before." Whether it be internally (where employees can communicate and collaborate with each other) or externally (where their customers and partners can interact and engage with each other in a private community).
According to Gartner, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks by 2016. But why is it that Gartner also states 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve intended benefits through 2015? Where do organizations go wrong?
Is it a one size fits all problem? Is it an adoption problem? Is it a design problem? Is it a software problem? Is it an engagement problem? What causes these intranets to be inactive with little to no engagement? Why do these intranets go stale?
To tackle this question, I recently had the opportunity to ask five of my colleagues in different departments this exact question. Check out their responses below and see what they have to say.
1) Executive Support
"It is important to have executive buy-in when implementing a social intranet. They need to fully understand the benefits of social and how it can improve the ways employees communicate and collaborate with each other. After the intranet is deployed, it is important to have the continued support of C-Level executives; a great example could be having the CEO blog about his vision for the company. The active participation of senior executives in the community can model the right behaviour where employees will be encouraged to actively login, read blogs and comment on the content."
- Jason Whitehead, Account Manager at Igloo Software
2) Establishing A Realistic Wishlist
"It is important the team tasked with recommending an intranet solution for the business be in alignment with needs and requirements of the end users; as well as corporate and governance policies, before evaluating vendors. All too often, evaluation groups come to me with a long list of complex requirements and wish lists with obscure features or functionality, rather than understanding the business problem they are trying to solve and why. It's easy for me to dazzle them with this feature, or that functionality, but in reality, the end user just needed something that could act as a social document depository where their fellow employees could collaborate on documents or presentations. And perhaps the CIO's office had a need for content to be protected and access controlled with audit trails for compliance.
Lessons learned to share? If the end user is overwhelmed with a complicated solution or too many bells and whistles [features], they are less likely to fully adopt the solution. Or if the solution is too narrow, it will not address their needs and essentially will fail. The solution for each company needs to be ad hoc and flexible enough to work the way their employees do (email, mobile, web), modular enough to provide a wide range of potential features and functionality to address business users needs, and scale for the future - all while serving the structure, policies and governance of the overall business - this is how business and people create successful intranets."
- Yvette Nanasi, Regional Sales Manager at Igloo Software
3) Simple Design That Fits Your Collaborative Needs
"Not having a transparent and clear goal as to why you are deploying the intranet is where organizations go wrong. Are you deploying an intranet to connect with other employees? Are you deploying an intranet to act as a document depository and as an information source? This will essentially affect the design and structure of the intranet. When I speak with clients, I always ask what their intention for their intranet is to further understand how to appropriately connect the intranet to the audience.
Having a base design and end goal ultimately affects the information architecture of the intranet. I've had clients give me direction, but have not included key stakeholders in the design process. In turn, this lack of transparency made operations and designing unclear and ineffective for me. As a graphic designer, my objective is to design for the end user and to ensure the design becomes engaging and friendly. An inconsistent and scattered aesthetic could ruin the experience and deter the end user from adopting the intranet. Understanding how to speak to the audience, what will capture their interest, and overall make it a clear and concise tool for the end user will assist in the success of the intranet."
- Samantha Johnston, Graphic Designer at Igloo Software
4) Launching With Ownership
"Launching an intranet is always an exciting journey for our clients. The design looks great, they have clear objectives, and they are comfortable with how the technology works; but one area where clients go wrong when deploying an intranet is taking ownership after it is launched. Before coming to Igloo I'd seen so many intranets launch with the idea that they'd manage and take care of itself, but that isn't how it works. I highly suggest assigning a community manager who will champion and grow the intranet after it is deployed to ensure the momentum continues. Having a community manager take ownership and accountability is a key to a successful intranet. Having this person monitor and take steps to improve the intranet will lead to a more engaged and active user base."
- Donal Murphy, Senior Project Manager at Igloo Software
5) Measure Success
"It is important to have a benchmark to measure against when deploying an intranet. So many organizations dive in without a clear objective of what they are trying to accomplish; so they aren't able to measure if they are making any progress. It is important to pick a workflow, say time to completion. Once the intranet has been deployed, measure that workflow and see if any progress has been made."
- Andrew Dixon, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Igloo Software
What challenges have you faced?
Inactive intranets are not a one size fits all issue. There are stages before, during and after an intranet is deployed where behaviours can affect the overall success of it. Having a successful intranet with high engagement and adoption levels not only requires work and attention, but it requires having clear and transparent goals with end users.