Building a social intranet in the age of mobility

by Lindsay Forcino

How can your organization emerge from an intranet quagmire?

In today’s constantly changing work environment, one thing that has remained constant is the importance of communication and collaboration. But the great irony of this age of connection is that despite all of the technologies that exist to help people better communicate, if anything, it’s become more difficult to collaborate. Fewer workers are working within the office environment, taking away that one common area where people could meet, discuss important matters, and plot paths forward. Remote workers may be accessing the intranet from a mobile device, but they need the same information as employees onsite. And without that common medium, keeping everyone on the same page can be a significant challenge for any organization.

Social intranets were the tools designed by companies to meet this challenge. Especially in larger organizations, intranets were billed as a digital water cooler, giving everyone in an organization—from an entry-level worker all the way up through the CEO—a voice that everybody could hear. In reality, intranets haven’t lived up to that lofty billing. But they have evolved into a valuable collaboration tool for organizations — though, it has not been the smoothest road getting there.

For workers to make the best possible business decisions, they must be able to access, share and transform information in any format, at any time, no matter where they are.

We’ve walked every step of that road at Ricoh USA, Inc. In 2008, the company acquired IKON Office Solutions, which at the time was the world’s largest independent provider of document management services. A company with a 60 year history, IKON had approximately 20,000 employees who became part of the new, integrated company. As you can imagine, this presented some challenges as thousands of employees were now part of a different organization with new coworkers, a different name and ways of doing things, including two stand-alone intranets with plenty of unstructured data.

While there were many components to our integration, our intranet team’s challenge was focused on creating a new and enhanced collaboration platform to support our unified company. Throughout the process, we kept several areas top of mind:

  • Unify content and organize unstructured information across the two companies’ intranets to make it easily accessible to all employees.

  • Create a culture of continuous improvement dedicated to enhanced productivity, optimized information flow and increased employee collaboration.

  • Foster team cohesion by breaking down walls between the merging companies and their workforces, including mobile and off-site workers.

Building a new RWorld

Is your intranet inviting to employees?

When building your internet, make it useful and engaging for both remote workers and those in the office.