From ThoughtFarmer: How Social Intranets support better Employee Engagement

Social Intranets and Employee Engagement White Paper Cover

Thoughtfarmer’s Social Intranet and Employee Engagement paper pulls together a range of statistics that add to the case for social intranets (and I would say more broadly, Social Business). Quoting research by Cornell University, Gallup, Aon Hewitt, and Aberdeen Group they point out the cost of low employee engagement and also the gains for organisations that do use social software (including blogs, wikis and social networking tools). In the rest of the paper you can explore how ThoughtFarmer’s own customers have been applying their platform to support the goal of enabling greater employee engagement.

Social Intranets and Managing Remote Teams courtesy of ThoughtFarmer

If you have about an hour to spare and haven’t bumped into the theory and advice around the management of virtual teams before (something I haven’t written about specifically since I moved my blog off Blogger) then this is worth watching. The Webinar features Nancy White and ThoughtFarmer bring this theory up to date in the context of using a social intranet to support virtual teams. BTW see my brief guide to successful virtual teams for my take on this (written in 2008).

ThoughtFarmer 5.0 is… mobile and extendable


Coming off the back of their annual social intranet conference, the ThoughtFarmer guys have announced the release of ThoughtFarmer 5. This release includes a new mobile-optimised version and an improved API.

I haven’t played with the mobile version yet, but it looks well executed. I’m also really interested in the Integration Kit (TIK). No social intranet exists in a vacuum, so the ability to extend and customise ThoughtFarmer means you can use it as a true social workplace platform.

What Enterprise Social Business Software Should We Use?‬‏

Following on from my post about Deloitte’s contradictory experiences of using both Yammer and Microsoft Sharepoint, it begs the question – what enterprise social business software should you be using?

In the video above, CIO’s from two companies, Equinix and Flextronic, talk about this issue. The approach taken by Flextronic – who employ 200,000 employees in 30 countries – is a combination of open infrastructure and experimentation, using small pilots. This exact approach won’t work for everyone, but if we boil this down to a core idea that everyone can apply, then I would recommend a design thinking led approach:

In this interview, Jive’s CEO Tony Zingale provides some good inputs into this design process:

  • The consumer Web 2.0 is driving demand, but don’t wait or expect Facebook (and others like them) to build a solution suitable for the enterprise.
  • The cloud vs self-hosted question is important to some companies (although I would add, not all).
  • Its not worthwhile trying to build it yourself – but make sure what you buy is built from the ground up, to be a social system.

So what do built from the ground up social business tools look like? Here is a good overview from tibbr:

As the tibbr video shows, social business tools can integrate with existing enterprise information systems (systems of record). In your organisation, this might include existing information management platforms like Sharepoint:

We also need to support other simple ‘social’ business activities needed by users, for example calendars and scheduling etc:

Also, pick tools that allow us to ‘nudge‘ users, rather than forcing change:

Consider all these points and you should find that users love the tools you provide them…

BTW If you are interested in some theory behind these examples, see my presentation, Architected for Collaboration, and my post on Designing Social Workplaces.