This week we continue our digital literacy series with another fascinating and informative interview. Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the various ways that social media benefits businesses, non-profits and political figures in interacting and forming meaningful relationships with people outside their organizations. In today’s post, we examine the power that social media holds on the inside – in the form of the company intranet. To get the scoop on everything intranet related, I spoke to Julian Mills (@millsj007), Head of Corporate Intranet and Internal Social Media at BMO Financial Group.
What do businesses need to know about social media and their company’s intranet? What are the benefits?
If a business is relatively new to using social media on its intranet, the most important thing to know is how to keep it simple. Don’t get distracted by functional differences between vendors, instead focus on a simple fact: well-connected employees are more productive, and a social intranet increases the productivity by which they connect and collaborate. A study from MIT showed that at one company, employees with the most extensive digital networks were 7% more productive, but those with the most cohesive face-to-face networks were 30% more productive.
In addition, this presentation on Slideshare speaks to specific benefits such as increasing knowledge, worker productivity, improving employee engagement and enhancing the dissemination of best practices.
Can you give me an idea of what you are currently doing with intranet social media at BMO? What are you excited about? Can you see any new trends emerging?
What I’m most excited about at BMO is the number of people, from executives to staff in our branches, who see the potential of how social media can provide benefits. We have completed a comprehensive social media strategy, which is providing a strong understanding for the user needs within the organization, and a clear set of business requirements for identifying the right social business platform.
A key trend that we’re seeing is a more sophisticated understanding of how employees who contribute in different roles might use the same social business tool, but to create value differently through varying use cases. A recent blog post on increasing productivity for employees in task-based roles, for example, speaks to how we’re deploying blogs within the company for these employees.
From a business perspective, how do social media campaigns for employees differ from campaigns directed at the public/customers?
It’s essential to understand that employees do not want to feel “sold to”. The person managing employee-focused social business initiatives must truly understand the spirit of social media: co-creating value by listening and seeking first to understand user needs. The critical success factor is delivering a return on participation.
From a management perspective, what is the importance of a high functioning intranet? How does it impact the bottom line?
Prescient Digital Media, where I worked prior to joining BMO, has a long and impressive history of demonstrating the business value of an intranet. Their research, captured in a comprehensive white paper on finding ROI for intranet investments, provides helpful ideas on bottom line benefits, ranging from increasing productivity through locating information faster to reducing operational risk by ensuring employees can find and act on accurate information.
What do you feel are the top key things to a successful company intranet?
The most important starting point is to understand the overall benefits of an intranet, one that includes a strong social component, and then determining the specific way in which your company will improve its business with a stronger intranet. You then need to make an appropriate investment, in both technology and people. This investment doesn’t need to be large—especially with social tools—but you get what you pay for. Finally, make sure you have a staffing model with specific responsibilities and accountability for ensuring the site delivers its identified benefits.