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Intensifying the intranet
COLLABORATION

Intensifying the intranet 

If the product-producing team forms part of the company’s exterior, the internal connections these people share might very well be the engine that powers the proverbial car. A strong intranet helps these individuals to collaborate and work together to complete projects which gets products on the shelves and into the hands of consumers.

However, despite the benefits it brings, there are times when intranet-reliant projects fall flat, thus warranting a significant tune-up in the shop. Proof of this lies in statistics from Gartner, which indicate that 40 per cent of intranet projects fail to reach their potential, while 15 per cent are completely scrapped.

Steven Green, founder and president of Toronto-based TemboSocial, discusses why these projects sometimes miss the mark, and what enterprises can do to build a stronger intranet.

IT in Canada: Statistics from Gartner show that 40 per cent of intranet projects fail to reach their expected ROI, while 15 per cent are abandoned entirely. Why is this?
Green: A large part of the focus of an intranet strategy tends to be on all the pre-work. Everything on the governance, platform selection, who’s going to own it, how it’s going to be designed and which groups you’re going to have communities.

Very little focus goes into what we call Day 2, what happens the day after we open up this intranet and allow people to come in and use it?

Employees are going to have an experience, and that’s going to determine whether people are going to adopt the intranet as a place to spend their work day or if they’re going say it’s not for them.

ITIC: What is TemboSocial doing to make employees smarter about their company’s business?
SG: Intranet platforms are generally very broad and very shallow. They can’t provide every feature with the depth they’d like to because there are many components that they’re focused on providing to the company.

It’s not really a rich experience. What we do is add value inside the corporate intranet. We provide the tools that will allow the place to really collaborate and connect with each other, tools that will provide meaningful content about people, about success, about achievement, about the mission and vision values of the company. They’ll have storytelling to really create a social experience with tools that are beautiful, decisive tools that employees are using when they go home at the end of the day.

That’s why millennials are very savvy users now. When people leave work at the end of the day they’re using social tools that are very engaging; they’re beautiful, they’re rich and they’re community focused. And then you come into the intranet, and the intranet allows you to collaborate on documents and posts and share other items that people are posting to the intranet as well.

Another reason why intranets tend to fail after their launch is because people tend to focus on the technology. If you buy a tool that has these features, people will be able to do these things, and then we’ll put it out there and people will do it. But it doesn’t work that way.

So if you have a community manager who is creating awareness about the discussions taking place, about the meaningful content that can help a community of practice become more successful within the business, and coupled with that you provide social tools that allow employees to actually get their work done in collaborative and meaningful ways, suddenly you have an intranet that will be very successful.

ITIC: What are some of the challenges that CIOs are facing with their intranets?
SG: I think the biggest challenge they’re facing is investing a huge amount of money. A big part of their budget is being invested in the intranet and the success rates are incredibly low.

While a CIO’s primary focus is on technology and security, they are also focused on business success, just like any other senior executive. If you’re going to invest millions of dollars into your company intranet and then it’s not going to create social capital, it’s not going create a place where people say “I need to be a part of this community to be engaged, be connected and advance my career,” then it’s not going to be successful.

The reason why this is a big failure for most companies is because while the focus from that team who’s decided on the intranet and strategy around the intranet is so focused on the intranet, there’s so many competing groups that are stealing the traffic. If you ask a CIO, “How many hosted SaaS services can an employee access and use?” they’ll say, “Well, we have these seven, 12, or 15 that have been approved.”

Then, they’ll go in and do their own analysis and find out that the company actually has on average employees accessing over 200 SaaS services. You have that competing with your intranet strategy, and you also have other groups within the bank that are servicing the company who are bringing on solutions for recognition.

What we’re finding is that in the past, the CIO had the intranet under them, and the intranet was really locked down. It was owned by IT and was something where line of business said, “We really can’t use this to do what we need to do.”

In a really rogue way, they started to bring out all of these outside tools, because that’s how they could get their job done. And then CIOs got a lot smarter and they said, “Okay, we’re going to invest in these new intranets that have more capabilities and we’re going to put them out there.”

ITIC: How can CIOs overcome these challenges?
SG: The CIOs have some great benefits that have come around in the past 24 months. Soft services have really become mainstream.

There are several companies like SkyHigh Networks who are out there doing the hard work of certifying companies to make sure they are in fact enterprise ready. It’s a very rigid review process to get through. They look at everything from your security requirements, certifications, insurance, the customers you work with.

For CIOs, now accessing cloud-based soft services is really much easier. It’s easier to say, “Okay, this company is certified by a third party, this company is working for a few companies that are similar to mine.” So you don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s actually going to work inside of your environment once you buy the software.

The time-to-market is so much quicker, as we have pre-built installations for the major intranet platforms. So if you’re a jive customer and you want to purchase our solutions, we could literally have them deployed enterprise wide within about 25 minutes. That’s a significant cost saving.

The management and maintenance of these tools are very easy. Eighty per cent of the calls that we get from customers looking for support is really just about knowledge of how to use the tool, and not actually because anything is broken.

CIOs are able now to demand that the services they’re going to adopt for the intranet, or for the company to integrate into their intranet. They’re able to say, “Our focus is creating social capital and creating an intranet that works. We don’t want to be among the 60 per cent of people whose intranet projects fail, and we’re not going to allow this fragmentation of our audience by allowing other systems to compete with the main business value that we’re offering to our intranet.”

ITIC: What are TemboSocial’s future goals?
SG: Our future goal is to help CIOs to reduce that failure rate on their intranet success metrics. It’s a really frustrating number, and a 40 per cent failure rate is really dismal.

We have programs about educating your employees around idea generation, around recognition, and all of these tools are certified, secured, easy to set up, integrated inside of their intranet platforms, and they’re going to make CIOs able to prove that an intranet can have the metrics that match up with what the original vision was.

Our plan going forward is to become a leader in the market. There are several tools out there that focus on idea generation recognition. We want to be the company that people that identify as the company that helped them achieve their business goals.

Additionally, we want consumers to be able to turn TemboSocial on and have a full enterprise ready to be deployed within 25 minutes. We plan to be the leader in employee recognition and idea generation inside the company intranet.

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