I think we are now starting to see the issues companies have faced with ‘The rush to social’ or the social silo.
Every new medium or technology goes through a life cycle. Social intranets (however one defines these) will be no different. It’s part of the phases of this disruptive technology life cycle.
I suspect many of the social intranet are at an early stage of the cycle. One of the main issues I have found is to few companies have enough evidence why they should replace some core needs which I suspect the current intranet has not addressed. For many in the workforce, collaboration often means more work, not less work. Connectivity results in more interactions, some less meaningful than others. Increase in effort often shifts the status quo resulting in internal resistance.
There must also be some choice in the user experience.
Time and time, people want to use the tool they are most comfortable with. For example, activity streams make sense for some employees who are used to high frequency, always on, information flows. However, those accustomed to using email as a task list and structured approach to filing information will find discomfort with activity streams.
Companies that were early adopters of social tools have already begun to see signs of duplication of effort and worries over the governance model. Some of the issues being raised are familiar concerns with early intranet developments of the 90s.
The social intranets that receive harsh criticism from many users will look to blame intranet maangers or IT. But if you don’t have sound governance, you are going nowhere fast. The most important element for an effective governance model – nay the intranet as a whole – is the strength and level of engagement of the end owners. People are the primary catalyst of intranet success.
If the governance is in place, then valued, relevant content can’t help but flow from it. It won’t happen overnight, and does require oversight and enforcement, and an effective user experience to support it, but strong content will surge from the right team (and governance model).