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Does Your Business Take the ‘Provide and Pray’ Approach to Social Intranets?

Date Posted: Sunday, 07 September 2014 13:51
Posted By: Kerry Butters

Last year a Gartner report found that whilst 70% of organisations employed social networking technologies, just 10% actually used them with any degree of success, with most taking a “provide and pray” approach.

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"Without a well-crafted and compelling purpose most social media initiatives will fail to deliver business value," said Gartner analyst Anthony Bradley. "A provide and pray approach provides access to a social collaboration technology and prays something good comes of it, like a community forming and participants' interactions naturally delivering business value."Bradley continued: "This approach sees a poor success rate and the underlying reason is usually that the organisation did not provide a compelling cause around which a community could form, and be motivated to provide their time and knowledge. In other words, a purpose was lacking."

This is clearly not the best approach to take and shows a lack of planning before and during implementation. So what can be done to ensure that an organisation really gets the most of social tools deployed on the intranet?

What’s In It for Me?

One of the main issues that seems to surround unsuccessful deployment is the lack of motivation given to employees to prompt use. In order to ensure that workers use the social intranet, organisations must give them an incentive, preferably something that means that their job is made easier.This means that the social aspects of the intranet should be fully developed, with wikis, blogs, profile pages and vitally, collaboration capabilities, if employees are to see its worth. All of this can be carried out during the planning stage, taking existing content and padding out, as well as ensuring that employees participate early on. It’s also hugely important that workers know how valuable to the organisation the social intranet is so that they give it proper attention.

This can be achieved by carrying out surveys early on in the planning stages so that employees can voice what they would like to see on social and how they would like to use it. Just like the successful deployment of any intranet, user engagement is key to its success and in order to achieve this, it’s helpful to understand exactly how the user is going to interact with it.

A Sense of Community

In order to encourage use of the social networking aspects to an intranet, it’s good practice to ensure that users are engaging and creating content early on. In order to encourage this, an organisation should create strong policies surrounding its use and a part of this could be to make it a part of a worker’s role to participate.The policy should include guidelines surrounding:
  • User profiles which must be completed on induction
  • A blog or wiki entry becoming a part of an employees working week
  • Use of workspaces for collaboration set up specifically for certain jobs
  • The inclusion of an instant messaging function to encourage interdepartmental communications
  • Announcements made solely through the social intranet
  • A requirement for employees to keep a record of social entries
In order to encourage a strong sense of community, on which a great social enterprise is built, it’s also vital to ensure that much more content is created by its users than the supporting enterprise and IT department.

Make its Value Clear

Many social enterprises fail simply because the organisation fails to make it very clear to employees just how important the social intranet is to the business. Employees who realise the value of something are much more likely to attempt engagement, especially if they also see how useful it can be to their job.

With this in mind, it’s essential for the organisation to create a buzz around social implementation far in advance of its deployment. Companies should aim to do this early on, giving presentations, asking questions and really making an effort to ensure that employees are immersed in the process right from the beginning.It’s also important to ensure that employees don’t just consider social a ‘bolt-on’ to the intranet, but something that has been specifically designed to help them do their job.

This can be further driven home with the use of quizzes and tactics that are designed to test workers’ knowledge of their role within the organisation.

Harness the Power of Mobile

Enterprise social networks have traditionally been difficult to implement due to many organisations choosing to see them as somewhat separate from the rest of the intranet. Clearly this is counterproductive as the idea is to gain employee engagement and this isn’t possible if the organisation fails to integrate enterprise social successfully.

With the rise and popularity of BYOD schemes, organisations should consider how they can allow workers to engage with social and the intranet in general using personal mobile devices. Since as a race we’ve become attached to our mobile devices, it seems somewhat wasteful not to use that fact when it comes to how the organisation’s network is accessed.

The use of MDM (mobile device management) software makes it a much simpler affair to manage mobile devices in the enterprise these days and more and more staff spend time accessing some form of work using their mobile than ever before.

At the moment, the use of mobile for accessing enterprise social is limited, but it’s something that should be borne in mind for the future and considered at the planning stage of deployment.Enterprise social networking has a lot to offer both organisations and employees and it’s a shame that it’s not being exploited to its full potential. In order to do so, it takes an understanding of its benefits, excellent planning that is carried out well in advance of deployment and a willingness to train employees and get them involved when the project is in its infancy.

The organisation that gets it right will enjoy a vibrant working community that is a huge asset to the business.

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