Barb Mosher from CMSwire announced the results of their latest poll regarding the usage of collaboration tools in intranets.
Frankly speaking, I wasnt impressed about the whole idea of this poll as I thought the results would be very predictable. However, the actual findings were absolutely surprising. It turned to be that 16,3% of the respondents dont have intranet in place, which is far more surprising taking into consideration that the CMSwire audience is extremely advanced in leveraging the advantages of Enterprise 2.0. At the same time approx. 17% said they do have intranets but they dont include any collaboration features and they dont have any third-party collaboration solutions in place. Finally, 13,2% said they rely on separate collaboration tools not linked to their intranets.
I can admit the poll results may not be reflecting the reality on the ground. The statistical base was only 1000 respondents and more research should be done on the audience to understand who actually responded to the question.
Anyway, this quick poll got my attention for a different reason. When summarizing the poll results, Barb questioned the readership: Do you hear the term intranet used when looking at social software solutions? It made me think of a common perception leading to a misunderstanding of the meaning and distinguishing of the terms intranet, Enterprise 2.0 and social media.
With much respect to Wikipedia contributors I would like to depart somewhat from the common definitions and share my view on what is what based on my market experience.
Intranet is basically a practical tool that creates a unified workplace for an organization supplying a number of benefits. In my opinion, the list of must-have features include collaboration, communications and knowledge base.
The intranet lets organizations put the employees experience into a single database to ensure knowledge continuity. There should be a number of additional features in place to avoid knowledge from turning into a useless silo and converting it into highly-available database that allows employees to easily locate relevant data. The CMSwire poll shows that 30,2% of respondents are content to use this single benefit, ignoring the others.
Intranet collaboration is tightly associated with the knowledge base. Data in a centralized repository brings little benefits in the absence of proper collaboration tools which act as a superstructure, enabling employees to effectively work with this data. In fact the connection between data and collaboration tools can be made with third-party applications. However, is there any sense in extra software investments when modern intranets are full of such tools? The only reason to work with third-party collaboration tools is legacy software. But in this case, the organization will inevitably meet with integration difficulties.
Finally, communications. Along with instant messaging, web e-mail, and video conferencing, modern intranets now contain powerful social networking features to let organizations harness the social dimension of creative communities and convert alienated employees into a solid well-wired body.
This is where the terminological controversy happens. People tend to mix up social software, Enterprise 2.0 and socially-enabled intranets while social networking is just a single intranet feature! Well, there are pure social-oriented software products like Yammer, but again is there any reason for extra software investments in niche products when modern intranets normally contain these features?
And now we have just one step left: to define what Enterprise 2.0 is. At Bitrix, we understand E2.0 to be, actually, an organization that has implemented a socially-enabled intranet! Dont blame me for contradicting E2.0 gurus. I just see there is a significant misunderstanding in terms that misleads people and confuses the organizations that are willing to Two-Point-0 their enterprise.