The Synergy Between Traditional and Social Intranets

There’s no doubt that an intranet has to be social and interactive. But, according to intranet consultant Mads Richard Møller, these aspects should not take focus off the basic purpose of the intranet: supporting business needs. At Intranätverk 2014, he showed three examples of how companies have combined both the business and the social aspects, and by that created synergy between traditional and social intranets.

Mads Richard Møller has been working as an intranet consultant since 2000 when he founded the companies Intracom Consult and Intra2. Over the last 14 years, he’s had insight in more than 500 Danish intranets and has become very aware of the challenges in the field. Mads Richard Møller presenting at Intranätverk 2014

Don’t re-invent the wheel – or throw it out with the bath water

A key philosophy in Mads’ work is that even though the digital world is changing rapidly, there are still extremely valuable learnings in “good old practice”. So, instead of using resources to invent a wheel that’s already been invented, or even worse, throwing it out because it’s seen as “old fashioned” – it’s far more valuable to combine old and new best practices. 

Three cases

During his presentation at Intranätverk 2014, Mads spoke about three cases regarding the synergy between traditional and social intranets.

Intranet + Yammer = 1

The first case concerned a Danish law firm with about 500 employees, located in different areas of the country. Mads explains that the main idea was to create a concept of a basic, well-functioning intranet. This would mean that the employees should be able to use the intranet in their daily work as well as being able to interact with their co-workers through it. Basically combining necessary functions with social elements. In this case, the company chose to combine the traditional intranet with Yammer to create a common platform. Mads explains that in this specific case it was also important to separate the professional discussions (exchanging knowledge and sharing information etc.) from the daily “chit-chat”. Therefore, they created different Yammer-groups assigned for the different purposes.

Fusion via Yammer

As the second case, Mads illustrated how Yammer could be used in the merging process of two companies. According to Mads, it was done pretty easily in this specific case. How? By creating a common Yammer-group and presenting it as an integrated part of both intranets. If you’re interested in finding out more about how this is done, please have a look at Mads’ presentation at Intranätverk 2014 in the video below.

Business vs. social

According to Mads, it’s vital that you are aware of the main purpose of the intranet. Going too social and turning it into a pseudo-Facebook isn’t necessarily the right way to go. The third case demonstrated by Mads brought just this specific issue to our attention. The company in this specific case had a very functional and traditional intranet. But one day the upper management wanted to use the new social media by launching a separate platform called Ourbook, which in many ways reminded of Facebook. The issue was that this platform stood alone from the intranet, something that resulted in two different systems within the organization. This meant that the employees had to choose which one to use – the “boring” or the “fun”. As a part of a later re-launch, the two platforms were merged into one platform – in which the “social” and the “business” elements were combined.

The key is combination

The three cases demonstrated by Mads are a reminder of how important it is to create synergy between traditional and social intranets. According to Mads, clever intranet managers know how to combine both the business and the social aspects into one. The recipe is to make it possible for everyone to participate and contribute to the intranet, but at the same time preserve the traditional management governed intranet. But as simple as it may sound, the process requires a whole lot of knowledge and patience.

Bio Mads Richard Møller

Mads Richard Møller is the founder of Intracom Consult that, since 2000, has helped more than 100 private and public companies exploiting the business potentials of intranets and digital workplaces. In 2002, he wrote the first Danish book about the business use of intranets and Internal Portals. Mads is also the founder of the Intra2 community where more than 250 Danish companies share knowledge about intranets and digital workplaces. In addition, Mads has a partnership with Worldwide Intranet Challenge, which offers the world’s most widespread Intranet User Survey and Benchmark. More than 50 000 employees from more than 200 companies have participated so far.