Jeremy Schultz: Straddling the Firewall

Building an intranet social media usage plan for communications

Posted in Work by Jeremy Schultz on February 5, 2009

My colleague Nisha and I are building what we’re calling a Social Media Usage Plan for our global employee communications department. The plan has three main goals:

  • Define and drive usage of social computing tools by our department as both a communications channel and a way to better collaborate within our organization
  • Drive employee adoption and appropriate use of social tools to better collaborate, share, and discover colleagues and information
  • Influence senior leaders on the value of social tools for their personal communications plans and to strengthen their organizations

To get there, we’ve started to define where we are now, and where we want to go.

The current state

I don’t think we’re bleeding edge in the adoption of social tools, but we’re not too shabby. Here’s what we have inside the firewall today, and we use each tool in communications:

  • Blogs: Any employee can sign up and start their own blog, and we have several “group” blogs, used by programs and projects for status updates, etc. I think we have roughly 2000 active blogs. For communications, we have a blog that we use to capture comments for global intranet news stories. We also occasionally feature an employee blog on our main intranet site, from the CEO down to individual contributors.
  • Forums: The blog site also contains forums, which are more active, and far more diverse than the blogs. Forums range from hobbies (cycling, gaming), to teams and organizations, to temporary campaigns. We use forums primarily for occasional web jams. Several organizations have conducted 2-3 day jams over the last couple years, with rich discussion and very positive results.
  • Wikis: We have a central, anyone-can-edit wiki called Intelpedia, that is used pretty widely. It started as a carpet server project (as did blogs), and was eventually crowned “official” by IT. There are also several private, departmental wikis spread across the company. We use Intelpedia to capture the living information we write in news articles, and we frequently link to reference material there from within our stories.
  • RSS: Besides the syndication offerings of the three aforementioned tools, RSS is spotty. We offer RSS of our news articles, and several departmental newsletters do, too. For better or worse, all of these also offer email. We have an IT-approved RSS reader, but it’s not automatically installed on all machines. In my experience so far, consumption of RSS is limited to those with at least a bit of IT geekiness.
  • Microsharing, MOSS, IM, Flickr, Facebook…: A handful of other tools, with varying levels of social capabilities, exist across the company. A few biz groups have custom tools, we have a microsharing proof of concept underway, we have an employee group on Flickr, and we have quite a bit of folks on Facebook. The one of these we feature in our communications is an occasional top 5 employee Flickr photos story as a “Friday fun” kind of feature.

How can we more explicitly use social computing tools as a communications organization to connect with employees, fosters connections between employees, and inspire better cross-group innovation? That’s what we’re working to do.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what’s coming on the social computing roadmap, and how we can improve use of social tools by communications as a channel and as a collaboration tool.


6 Responses

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  1. Verity said, on February 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for this. I love to hear how companies are actually using Web 2.0 within their organizations.

  2. russell said, on February 6, 2009 at 2:03 am

    Yes, thanks for sharing this – really useful to see what you’re doing here. Quick question – do you Suite Two at all in this rollout?

  3. Jeremy said, on February 6, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Hi Russel, I’m reluctant to speak publicly about what vendors we use, just to avoid any unintended conflicts (although I did mention MOSS in my last bullet). Let me ask around and see how much I can share. In the meantime, it might already be buried in the Intel Information Technology 2008 Performance Report; I haven’t read through it yet…

  4. Nisha said, on February 9, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Nicely captured. I’m excited about the opportunities these tools provide; let’s hope everyone else gets inspired too! Now I understand why I have all these Twitter follower requests!

  5. Michelle Gorel said, on July 7, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I, too, love to hear what a “real company” is doing in social media. We’re working on launching an internal social computing tool for employees. Initially, there was a lot of excitement and now it’s slowing down as we’re into the nitty gritty of getting the functionality we want, cultural adoption — plus of course the cost. In this economy I have to be able to justify every penny! One of the issues we’re working through right now is how to comply with data privacy laws in Europe. With the tool we picked, a basic profile site is automatically provisioned with an employee’s name and contact info — our European legal beagles are saying that is creating a need for a registration process before employees add any additional info. How did you/do you deal with data privacy laws? We have a “safe harbour” strategy already in place for protecting employee data, I guess its just this issue of making sure participation is voluntary.

    By the way, I work for Avnet — an Intel distributor!


  6. Jeremy Schultz said, on July 7, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Hi Michelle, let me ask my friends in IT and see if I can get an answer. Our system is very similar to what you describe, so we must have encountered this scenario. I’ll let you know what I find out!

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