The hype around social intranets has escalated anew with Microsoft shelling out $1.2 billion to acquire Yammer, a social intranet platform, in July, 2012. If that’s saying anything, the social intranet space is getting big and bound to get bigger. But before you get any ideas and start thinking along the lines of Facebook or Twitter to associate the term “social intranet” with, let’s define social intranet.
What is a social intranet?
Social = people. Intranet versus Internet, within an entity versus between/among entities. Not too complicated, right?
Now, let’s complicate things a bit for the sake of complicating things. If you Google “social intranet,” there’s a likely chance you’ll come across social intranet being defined as an enterprise 2.0 platform. If you’re no tech geek, enterprise 2.0, in a nutshell, is the use of software that promotes employee, customer and supplier engagement and collaboration through Web 2.0-supported applications within an organization.
Web 2.0, on the other hand, is a site that encourages user participation and collaboration as opposed to a static website. Blogs and social media sites are some examples.
Simply put, you were sort of right to think of Facebook and Twitter (if indeed you did) when thinking social intranet as long as you don’t forget that the operative words are “engagement and collaboration within an organization,” which, of course, can be your own business organization.
Does your business need a social intranet?
Microsoft spending a whopping $1.2 billion to incorporate Yammer’s social intranet functionality into Microsoft Office is not a small deal. Businesses use social intranets because they provide a whole host of advantages. Below are just three of them:
- Information. Information repositories are cool, especially if you know how to get to them. As well, information is meant to be shared. Through file and content sharing, status updates and comments, information is easily disseminated across an enterprise.
- Communities. Social intranets are a good way to bring like-minded people together, where they can exchange and share ideas and learn from their peers, fostering a spirit of teamwork within a company.
- Collaboration. Constant engagement leads to collaboration and proper implementation of processes that benefit the whole business in the long run.
How small can small businesses go?
You may have already heard of prominent names in the cloud-based enterprise solution space – the likes of Oracle and SAP, which, for the most part, cater to companies with headcount ranging from hundreds to thousands. And you may also have heard of a few vendors serving the enterprise solutions needs of small businesses. Knowing that you have options if you dig deep enough, one sensible question to ask is how small can a small business go? Statistics obtained from one social intranet provider shows that for the average small business intranet,the user size is 4.9. Even very small teams can benefit from their own social intranet.
How much does a social intranet cost?
Social intranets can range from free to ridiculously expensive, meaning, tens of thousands of dollars. The costs generally depend on whether:
- you want your intranet cloud-based, which is less costly
- you want it installed in your own server, which is normally more secure but more expensive and time-consuming
Depending on the application developer you choose, costs can also be:
- one-time in nature
- per user, which, of course, can add up depending on the number of employees your company has
- per amount of data space used, which is more economically attractive unless you work with large chunks or hundreds and hundreds of gigabytes of data
While the excitement around “social” has never before been so palpable, as Fred Cavazza of forbes.com asserts, it is paramount to keep in mind that the best social intranet solutions are those that tie the most data and business processes to an employee’s social behavior. At the end of the day, it’s not always about the “social” in social intranets, it’s keeping a balance between productivity and people engagement.
Maricel Rivera works for Bitrix24, the world’s fastest-growing social intranet + CRM solution for small businesses. With 10,000+ clients now under its belt, Bitrix24 is 100% free for companies with 12 employees or fewer.
Gary Shouldis is a father, husband, business owner and avid blogger. He is the founder of 3Bug Media, a web marketing company helping small businesses grow their online presence and bottom line. When he’s not working, you can usually find him being chased through the park by his 4 children.