Making corporate intranets social is the main theme of Socialtext 4.6, which we announced today. The focus originated from my favorite source of insight: Our customers. I love it when they hit you over the head with use cases that emerge inside their companies.
Starting several months ago, we noticed an exciting pattern amidst many of newer customers: Their usage and adoption rates were accelerating on a curve previously unseen by us, or, frankly, most Enterprise 2.0 use cases for that matter.
Interestingly, several of these customers didn’t have grandiose plans of transforming their intranet. They merely sought to leverage social software to solve specific pain points their businesses faced. They were engaging in what our VP of customer success, Michael Idinopulos, would refer to as “In the flow of work” collaboration. They also wanted to eliminate knowledge and information silos that hampered business performance. In one case, the head of worldwide sales tasked about 200 people from his team, product marketing, and sales ops to improve training materials and product launches. In another case, we saw a broad, horizontal deployment to modernize knowledge sharing across disparate teams and functions.
But after launching these focused deployments, word spread fast.
Other employees looked at their intranets and realized what it was missing: People.
Pretty soon, employees outside the targeted usage groups at these companies started asking why they couldn’t have the same easy-to-use social applications in their intranet. Why did they have to tolerate the static, frustrating, and out-of-date intranet that was in place?
We’ve seen two results from their requests. Some of our customers have actually replaced the front door to their intranet with Socialtext – particularly with Socialtext Dashboard as the starting point. Dashboard allows people to not only access tools within Socialtext to connect with colleagues and share content, but they can also access other systems, applications and sites across their company. Others, though it wasn’t their intention at the onset, scrapped their intranet entirely and moved to Socialtext. These customers have transformed the look and feel of their intranet by injecting social patterns into it. Employees can share via microblogging, self-publish through blogs, collaborate on wikis, and form groups across organizational boundaries.
Meanwhile, my team also noticed a trend in the language used by our sales prospects. They began hearing phrases like “Our intranet stinks” or “No one can find anything in our intranet.” Just yesterday, I talked with the CIO of a large company who said, “We call our intranet ‘The Junk Drawer.’” Last month, we did a webinar called “Your Social Intranet – The Place Where Work Gets Done.” During the event, we ran a fun contest to see who could propose the funniest David Letterman-style “Top 10 ways you know your Intranet needs updating.” The visceral and sarcastic nature of the submissions we received speaks volumes about people’s frustration with current intranets. (More on that in future posts.)
So the new features that we’ve rolled up into Socialtext 4.6 are really the result of focusing our development and innovation through this lens – helping make your intranet more social. We’re doing as much as we can to make PEOPLE be a first-class object in your intranet. As a result, we can make the intranet be a place where people go to get work done together — not just a place to try to find information, documents, and application links.