Social intranet– A simple philosophy of new wine in old bottle

social intranet
The connected intranet. Social intranet needs to understand the employee and the team’s collaborative behavior to succeed. I drew the sketch using Artflow on Android. It is open for interpretation.

Intranets back in those days were a simple internal website within companies serving company webpages. Over the years, they have transformed into a full-fledged social intranets if we go by the claims and working operational models projected by vendors and industry practitioners in this space.

In this post, I would like to explore the buzz around social intranet and the philosophy behind it.

According to a pew-research study, as of 2016, about 2/3rds (about 69%) of the American population use social networking sites. The percentages might be slightly lesser for other parts of the world. Such massive usage is slowly catching up with the usage of social intranet within organizations as well.

Integration of internal business processes within organization is something of great value and could be a turning point for their adoption and usage considering they have a close running competition with their brothers – Enterprise social networking tools.

On this point, I would like to say, intranets have come a long way. In the 1990’s intranets were simple internal websites serving company staff directory and pages for company policies and procedures.

Intranets these days have become more social with the addition of collaborative features. They allow employees to share, connect, and interact with other colleagues in the organization. With time and ‘attitude’, simple intranets have become ‘Social intranets’. They serve good for the employees of the organization.

The contention is that there is a thin line that separates social intranets with the enterprise social networking tools with lot of overlapping features and functionalities. There are hardly any crucial distinguishing features now.

Social intranet fosters a collaborative spirit among the employees, which in turn aids in improving the productivity of the organization. This brings us to the part of understanding the philosophy behind it. Which is commendable and quite simple.


Listed below is a set of underlying philosophies for the new age ‘social intranet’.

1.Social intranet allows employees to work together and share knowledge and new discoveries. Having said this, social intranet is democratizing information sharing and interaction within the organization.

2.Organizations now are increasingly cognizant of the fact that when employees are given the freedom to interact and share their interests, it boosts their morale, it gives a sense of belonging and there by productivity.

3.The Social intranet is primarily built to facilitate cross-functional communication and collaboration among people and business units.

4.Employees take ownership and are responsible for smooth running of the social intranet. Roles are assigned to the employees like for example, knowledge brokers, and moderators who facilitate interactions and liaise with the senior management and business units.

This set of philosophies calls for a unique of balance of alignment to organizational objectives, a dash of freedom of expression and flexibility to mix social interaction with organizational processes.

A critical challenge

Integration of business processes into the sphere of social intranet is a challenge. Once the transaction processing, data capture and analysis on organizational processes start to happen, we can see increased usage and adoption of social platforms.

Even enterprise social networking software vendors are vying for this opportunity. However, the kind of business processes that we can allow employees to transact under the social platform with concerns of privacy, security, and confidentiality is still a question.

An important feature of social intranet among others is the listing of employee profiles under the staff directory. Sure, it is important, but Jive software, an enterprise social networking tool uses a novel feature where employees can be known through their social interactions and contributions rather than just plain searching of employee names or tags. This has been a driving feature for them.

In fact, there are no detailed employee profiles listed. You are required to login and participate to know others. Simple it is, such core functionality encourages the building of ‘social capital’, the invisible bonds that boosts morale and encourages employees to share and work together as a team.


It is not important to have an elaborate list of social features built into the tools but understanding the team’s social behavior is. As the very word ‘social’ denotes, it is important that the tools adapt to the employee behavior rather than the other way around.

Most of the employees are not interested in knowing the ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ of the organization. They are more interested in being in the good books of their managers. They need a sense of belonging where they can freely share, interact and contribute.


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Ramkumar Yaragarla

I am 43 years old. Founder, Loving dad and Husband. Worked as an IT Business analyst and program manager in several Fortune 100 companies.Alumnus at the University of Warwick, UK. I love the WWW and write on Social aspects of information, Social collaboration, Digital Sociology, Digital Humanities and Work life balance. I enjoy playing on the beach with my 9 year old daughter. I am open to your suggestions and comments.
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