This morning I attended a session entitled "Social Media: Intranets 2.0 - Internal Social Networks Catch Fire" sponsored by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council. The speakers were Joan DiMicco, Research Scientist, Center for Social Software at IBM Research, and Donna Cuomo, PhD, Chief Information Architect at The MITRE Corporation. It was inspiring to see what these forward-thinking organizations are doing with social media in the enterprise, and some common themes emerged:
1. Social media activity is already happening within the enterprise.
2. There's mutual gain for the employee and the organization.
3. It's important to have policies around the content.
4. It's necesary to manage the lifecycle.
5. Get started.
1. It's already happening - people are sharing anyway (they're emailing links and files around, trying to find people / meet colleagues); and it's only going to increase. Joan DiMicco cited that 95% of college students use Facebook.com - we all know that the next generation of workers will not only be comfortable with web 2.0 technologies but will expect them in the enterprise. How can you enable them and leverage them to improve productivity and collaboration?
2. There's mutual gain - both the employee and the enterprise will benefit from the implementation of social networking tools. Joan DiMicco shared the value of social networking within IBM, as follows:
- stronger bonds w/network
- form new relationships
- caring - a notion of humanizing the workplace
- climbing - a means to advance in career
- campagning - an ability to build build support for projects
- up-to-date, detailed employee profiles
- tacit knowledge & relationships made explicit
- intranet data repository vs. outside (kept even after employee leaves the company)
- increased social capital: loyalty, communication
4. Manage the lifecycle - have a plan for what happens to the information after a user leaves the company. At MITRE, when employee leaves, private bookmarks are deleted, and the public bookmarks go into an expiration account. The user's profile photos is replaced with a ticking clock icon. Bookmarks are available for 90 days so colleagues can go in and grab valuable information. For collaborative sites, there must be 2 owners for every site. When someone leaves they have to assign a new primary owner. When a site becomes less active it is moved to a different area, indexed less frequently, etc.
What about the ever-present issue of rapid and uncontrolled proliferation of content? As one audience member quipped, "First it's too soon to tell, then it's too late to stop." Both speakers acknowledged that content proliferates rapidly, but the implication was that the benefit outweighs this potential downside. MITRE's future development efforts will include a tool to aid navigation among their wiki pages to mitigate the proliferation issue.
5. Get started - find something that people already find useful - phone directory, organizational chart, listing of new project codes - and then start hanging additional functionality off it (like an availability indicator, profile information linked to the org chart, etc.). The greater amount of activity around the tool will lead to a greater amount of social capital within the organization.