Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
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Zeus Kerravala | October 01, 2015 |


Jive Software Unveils Interactive Intranet

Jive Software Unveils Interactive Intranet Intranets certainly aren’t new, but building one in a way to make it an interactive hub for employees to collaborate is a refreshing take on it.

Intranets certainly aren’t new, but building one in a way to make it an interactive hub for employees to collaborate is a refreshing take on it.

A technical definition of "intranet" would be something along the lines of a network that works in the same way as the Internet, yet only certain people can use. But if you ask an employee of a company with an intranet how to define it, he or she would likely say it's more of a boring webpage that they never go to. Why? Because it's not really like the Internet at all.

Sure, intranets may work like the Internet, but the Internet is real time, constantly in motion, and always has fresh information. Most intranets are anything but that. Content is updated very infrequently, and the information that's on the page is often useless to the average employee.

Prior to my analyst days, I spent many years in corporate IT and actually launched an intranet page for one of the companies that I worked for. We had the best intentions, but the task of updating the content fell on the IT department and with all the other initiatives we had to do, updating the intranet typically fell to the bottom of our priority list. The end result was an intranet with old information that no one went to, which is, unfortunately, more the norm than the exception.

Despite that though, I still believe an intranet can have tremendous value to a company if designed properly. Employees need a place to share content and information meant for internal eyes only. To solve this challenge, the model of an intranet must move away from being IT-led.

A New Intranet

Today, Jive Software announced a major release to its Jive-n product the company is dubbing the "Interactive Intranet," which is the intranet built on the concept of "For the employees, by the employees." This concept is well aligned with digital transformation, as one of the underpinnings of digitization is employee engagement; the Intranet can be one of the core tools for that.

In a pre-briefing with Jive, they provided me with this definition of the interactive intranet: "A single platform that combines the natural connections of mobile apps, the collaborative capabilities of an enterprise social network, and the structure of a traditional intranet."

Think of Jive's platform as being an interactive hub where a worker has access to all of their key collaborative applications such as Office, Google, Salesforce, Box and other platforms. Equally importantly, workers have access to a number of tools to create their own pages, invite co-workers to the page, structure the community, and other tasks to connect employees with the information and content they need to do their jobs. The interactive intranet modernizes how employees interact with co-workers, their team and the company. To make the process simple, Jive created a slick management console that has been built around the key tasks and repetitive activities required to use the product.

In addition to the third-party tools, Jive includes a number of purpose-built mobile applications that make up the Jive-w (workstyle) suite:

  • Jive Circle -- A directory application with contact expertise, organizational charts, location, presence information and easy tap to email, chime or call tools
  • Jive Daily -- This is an Internet company newsfeed, and you can think of it as an internal Twitter but with a few interactive feedback options from readers.
  • Jive Chime -- A secure team messaging application

Jive also built an engagement and rewards feature into the product to incent workers to contribute content and grow into company or brand advocates that the company can lean on for things such as recruiting and social selling. While this may seem frivolous, I believe it's critical to the success of any internal community site, whether it's a blog site, wiki, or intranet.

I recall a year or so ago speaking with the CIO of a global bank about an internal wiki the company built for BYOD support. The thought behind building the wiki was that if a user has a question about a certain product, why not tap into the community of employees that are well versed in that product to support. For example, if I need help with Mac, my best approach is to ask one of those Apple zealots that camp out in front of Apple stores to buy the first iPhones so why not use that knowledge to help the company. This is great in concept, but falls down if users don't contribute content.

The Jive platform has an integrated quests and reward program to accelerate on-boarding of new hires and to stimulate usage by employees. In some cases, bragging rights might be enough of a reward. For example, when I worked at a consulting firm, all of us engineers like to show off who had the most knowledge of certain topics and the ability to rub our fellow engineers' noses in our brilliance would likely be enough incentive to use the Intranet. Other organizations could tie activity to something like American Express points or other financial system, and the employees could use those points to buy merchandise. The key is the company has the ability to put a reward system in place to stimulate usage, which creates value, which in turn, leads to more usage.

Lastly, the product includes a number of data gathering and analytics tools to understand which employees or groups are interacting with each other and the tone of discussions. The analytics also looks at activity across the Jive-w suite to understand which employees are using the various applications. The engagement analytics can be used to uncover gaps in participation and then tie to performance. The company can then use that information to take corrective measures.

The concept of an intranet certainly isn't new, but building it in a way to make it an interactive hub where employees can go to collaborate and get work done certainly is a refreshing take on it.

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