I’ve never entirely be convinced by the suggestion that using social networking technologies to form a business intranet. That is, until today when I heard a podcast presented by the Chief Technologist of Ektron as part of the SWSX conference. To date I’ve viewed the intranet as needing to be able provide static content (e.g. standard documents such as benefits etc) and a dynamic area for knowledge sharing.
What Bill Cava highlighted is that a large percentage (50%) of people found site searching for information can be ineffective. But by exploiting people’s innate understanding of human relationships and roles. So by leveraging that, you improve the chance of finding what you need. For example configuration information for a VPN, well talk to a system admin as they’ll know where the documentation is, and may well even have links from their profile to the information. This really plays dividends on distributed or larger organisations.
Secondly, social networking sites also have forum style areas where a written exchanges can be posted. But unlike the forum, the participation in the discussion can be more easily configured and dynamically controlled (self organising). But there is also context to the conversation as the social network provides detail about the participants.
Lastly the intranet only delivers value if its used, and to get use it must provide the engage-ability that social networking functionality can offer. As Bill points out we perform web analytics on company business sites, and should we not also do that for the intranet to understand that its value and contribution to the business operation.
I’d recommend listening to the podcast if you’re looking how to improve your business’ internal IT resources, although it is slow slow going to get the nuggets from the ‘cast.