Can we bridge the divide between current thinking about intranets vs social business?


I’m at day 1 of Intranets2011 today, what is billed as a “fully-fledged conference for intranet practitioners”. Personally, I’m pleased to see a reasonable selection of social business related presentations (apart from my own of course):

  • Socialising SharePoint! 
  • Three success stories from using Yammer at DET 
  • A social intranet celebrates its second birthday 
  • Taking a user-centred approach to intranet design 
  • Customer experience and intranets in the context of service design

Strongly related topics around organisational change include:

  • Change management is paramount 
  • Tips to gain executive support 
  • Ask an executive

My first impressions this morning, primarily from listening to Jane McConnell’s presentation, is that here in Australia (and NZ) there is still a big divide between ‘traditional’ intranet managers and those moving towards social business (what some also call “enterprise 2.0”). This is not just evident in the language and stories used, but also in the stats.

Out of 120+ people attending today, only one person admitted to being a community manager and 1 person identified themselves as being from HR. Two people had attended an “Enterprise 2.0” branded conference. This mix was also largely mirrored in Jane’s stats.

This doesn’t mean people aren’t interested (based on my conversation over the break) and I hope the content over the next few days will help to bridge that gap between these different communities. However, there is also a view that its time for intranet managers to adapt or face the risk of the ground simply shifting from beneath them (Jane talked about an organisation where a group leading a social network initiative openly talk about trying to kill off the old intranet, and intranet team with it).

One mistake I think people here might make is to treat social media as feature. While I agree that the terminology and phrases we use around ‘social’ will increasingly become business-as-usual, I disagree that you can view this change simply as a technology feature to incorporate.

In this respect, James Robertson is correct that something is changing in the world of intranets. I might modify that slightly and say – it has already changed.

Lets see what happens next.