The end to Internal Communications and collaboration?

Recently I have been thinking a lot about how IT can help organizations to communicate and collaborate more efficiently and quicker. The enterprise world seems to be out of ideas and leadership to drive innovative solutions and the consumer world is quite the opposite.

How does your organization communicate internally? What tools are at your disposal to initiate two-way communication and collaboration with your employees? As more organizations look at services like Google Hangout, Twitter, Facebook to reach out in channels where their employees normally spend their time it’s even more important to have a clear vision in how, where and why you are shaping your internal communications strategy.

From a human resources perspective engaged employees are on their targets and could very well drive business forward as employees are involved in the overall process of the company. But how do you engage employees and create efficient tools for collaboration and at the same time having to invest in different tools and solutions?

It’s here where one need to reflect and think about how their employees will benefit the most and how HR could act as the glue between IT and business needs to drive both communication and collaboration.

One would naturally think about the intranet as a good source for two-way communication. Strangely many still sees the intranet as a sole replacement for email communication. Generally email communications are one-way when messages comes from the management team or the CEO. I’d go as far as describe them as spam as the larger the organization gets the amount of emails coming from management increase. If your company employees 50.000 employees there will always be a need to communicate different procedures and “internal PR” along the employees.

Replacing these emails with a well-designed intranet where departments will get the possibility to show their self on the first page from time to time would certainly decrease the internal one-way mail flow. But without a well-designed and easy to use feedback system the information is still one-way. By adding a voting system, a forum or a commenting system close to the message you could engage your employees to interact and discuss. Some of the best ideas sometimes comes from outside your department and might only be discussed on that afterwork next month. But shouldn’t feedback come from all offices in all locations?

There are other benefits from directing internal communications towards a well-designed intranet. Attachments and images makes better use on an intranet instead of hitting email size limits in the email systems. The process for onboarding also increases with an active intranet, as a new employee you sure want to catch up quickly and as your inbox is empty when you starts working you need to find the information elsewhere and here can the intranet be a good source.

The social features of an intranet are however the glue that makes your employees come back. Today we are used to be active on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and expect that the same functionality would exist in our workspace. So what are the drawback of using consumer based services within the enterprise?

Would you protect your corporate data?
We all need to take a step back and think about confidentiality – is it important to protect your information to stop it spreading to non-enterprise grade channels? Would you employees be knowledgeable to handle and protect sensitive information?

There are a number of cases where information has spread due to a lack of security understanding and “common sense”. I have seen companies host sensitive staff meetings on Google Hangout streaming to YouTube Live where everyone could watch corporate sensitive data and corporate users not aware of settings in cloud based services where anyone could access corporate data. Do you know if your employees threat and act on information the right way in your organization?

These questions would best be addressed to your IT-department but if the organization would act themselves who would one ask? Corporate security normally fall under the CIO or a specific security manager.

How can we know that all these social networks and external cloud services do not leak sensitive information?

We all know information sharing and collaboration is key to the success of a company but if we do not act responsibility about the risks and establish procedures about when information should be shared we might leak confidential information to our competitors.

To help ourselves communicating in the right channels we need a framework and procedures about when and where we communicate and to whom we would address.

IT tools will sure help you tailor your message and collaboration strategy but make sure you select tools that would help you archive your goal and minimize the complexity.

In the next article we will look more closely at tools that will help you reach your internal collaboration goal.

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