Plek blog

The three trends shaping the future of the social intranet

A social intranet is a platform that centralises a company's employee communication, knowledge sharing and collaboration. Just like social media applications, a social intranet helps individuals build relationships and connect with one another - all the positives of social media, housed within a work context.

There is a but, however…

Despite all the promises and positive expectations, the reality is that 90% of (social) intranets fail, often due to a lack of purpose, outdated information, and fragmentation. Many intranets have become dumping grounds for content, lacking employee interaction. They are seen as top-down initiatives, just ‘sending’ machines paying little attention to employee wants or needs.

And there is another but…

The need for information, connection and communication within organisations remains paramount and continues to grow. Hence the proliferation of separate tools fulfilling different organisational functions. A separate app for onboarding. A separate measurement for engagement. A separate app for conveying details about x or y. Information is shared through e-mail, WhatsApp, Yammer, and many other tools. Apart from the cost and technical complexity, there is no appreciation of the ‘mental real estate’ taken up by yet another tool or channel. Instead, employees are bombarded with information from various sources, often lacking any overarching context and where the content divided between the various apps is often inconsistent or outdated.

Just empathise with employees for a moment. Don’t you agree that this is a pretty poor experience which distracts rather than engages and empowers?

The good news is that things are changing. Both from a conceptual - and technical point of view.

"It is not about ‘sending’ anymore. It’s about an Integrated Employee Experience and Organisation Health."

Today, companies are starting to realise that improving the overall employee experience is essential for success. Employee experience involves a worker's perception about his or her journey throughout all the touchpoints at a particular company, starting with job candidacy through to their departure from the company. Within that journey, the social intranet can play a vital role by connecting various organisational and work touchpoints together, like vision, purpose and strategy, knowledge sharing, engagement, inter- and intra-team communications, collaboration and learning. In addition, a social intranet can provide fast access to relevant work applications in a central place where modern social features can be leveraged to deliver a more engaging, ‘integrated’ collaborative workplace.

Simply sending information from various sources is passé. A positive ’organisational’ employee experience, where the dots (collective, team and individual) are connected, directly contributes to a higher level of organisational health . Today, in many organisations the digital ‘organisational’ employee experience is seen as a core focus of the modern social intranet, serving as a hub for all digital interactions - both organisational and work-related - within the work environment. It is an integrated approach to the organisational employee experience.

Social intranets are stepping up their game. Three trends.

As explained above, although in many organisations the potential of a social intranet has not been fully realised, today, more than ever we see organisations developing a strong need for exactly what a social intranet should offer: connection, engagement and empowerment. Technology is stepping up its game to amplify organisational functions (HR, IC, Leadership, IT) to improve the employee experience:

1. From personalisation to individualisation

Personalisation in social intranet terms means that users, for example, can create their own homepage, join groups and create a space that matches their personal needs. Of course, this is enjoyable and certainly helps create a good employee experience.

Personalisation, without a doubt, is here to stay, and for sure will improve going forward. However, important as it may be, it is not enough to really lift the digital employee experience. What matters more is individualisation.

Individualisation comes from the fact that the social intranet is smart and able to deliver, suggest, and ‘feed’ content that is relevant to the individual based on his or her preferences, needs and expectations. It brings intelligence to the table.

Today’s technology offers, for example, the possibility to go one-on-one at scale. Which is a completely new level of interaction. We foresee a future where social intranets grow from ‘push and tempt’ to ‘pull and inspire’, based on data-driven insights, creating a completely different digital employee experience in a safe environment. As one of our clients described it ‘...the social intranet goes from being the mailman in a nice van to being a more personal, trusted advisor who can empathise with me more’.

2. From statistics to analytics for data-informed decision making

Analytics is much more than just statistics. Statistics give you insight into what happened and - with the right statistical formulas - might give you an expectation of the future. They can certainly be very useful.

But analytics gives you a greater level of intelligence. With analytics, you are able to ask better questions and, with your knowledge of the specific context, create better answers. Analytics improves your decision-making. It is hugely powerful, especially when it is about people and your organisation.

We believe that Leadership, HR, and IC (as well as IT, Legal, and other departments) will work more and more using analytics to collectively create a better, more integrated organisational experience for employees.

What do we mean? Just as an example, modern social intranets have built-in intelligence to cluster data from digital one-on-one interactions, scalable conversations and user statistics. Based on this data, fact-based ‘employee personas’ can be created that go far beyond demographic personas (age group, educational level, and years of service) but look at ‘engagement’ factors like unique combinations of needs, assumptions and expectations - providing deeper insights regarding the human behind the data.

3. From standalone to a central hub

Last but not least, we believe social intranets will increasingly grow into central hubs from where employees can find their way within their organisation. ‘Organisational’ will be connected to ‘work’, ‘the individual’ and ‘the team’. And vice versa. All in one digital place where the dots are connected.

The need for a centralised place to communicate and collaborate is more important than ever, which is exactly what social intranet platforms can deliver. When deployed correctly, a social intranet can support your communications and alignment by integrating with other applications, serving as a single place where all the dots are connected. About much more than just comms, it brings all aspects of the employee experience together. In terms of digital tools, experience is not defined by Microsoft Word or Outlook, it is about bringing all stakeholders to the table. It means letting employees shape their own conversations. This is what a centralised social intranet can achieve.

A social intranet can help break down silos and organisational boundaries by delivering a single point of reference, a place where context is formed, aligned and enriched. Access can even be granted to external parties so everyone that needs to engage with a particular topic, message, or update is brought to the same place. It’s a seamless, all-in-one vehicle for employees, whether they are working in the office, at home, or from anywhere else.

How Plek can help unlock the social intranet of the future

At Plek, we understand the future power of the social intranet. If you’re trying to boost employee experience and organisational health, really improve connection and engagement, and empower individual employees to be successful, then give us a call. Find out how Plek can support you.

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