Every tech company should be the best example of its own technology, so we thought it was time to share the eXo story of how we built and use our social intranet. Launched with eXo Platform, our social intranet satisfies the specific needs of our enterprise organization: managing content, as well as collaborating on projects worldwide – U.S., France, Vietnam, Tunisia and Ukraine. In doing so, the notion of “going social” has been redefined for us — now it’s more interactive, more sticky and more useful, and we have 100% adoption among our 180 employees.

Read on and you’ll find out how eXo built and uses its social intranet, including our rollout and rapid initial adoption, use cases and snapshots, as well as some unexpected benefits along the way.

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Companies create intranets and internal company websites to establish a central “start page,” a dashboard that users visit throughout the day for relevant, up-to-the-minute news and information. That’s the vision. In reality, traditional intranets and websites tend to be static and stale, discouraging user visits. Now, companies can make their intranets more interactive, more sticky, and more useful by “going social” with web 2.0 and social network features. Ultimately, this new breed of social intranet can connect employees, ideas, discussion and content to more fully empower users throughout the organization – in both expected and unexpected ways.

When eXo decided to launch a social intranet using our own eXo Platform, our goal was much the same. We wanted a better way to communicate comprehensive and detailed information on all things eXo, from project status to team activities and beyond. We wanted something that fell between pushing out email and posting a static page on our previous intranet. But most of all, we wanted our users to want to return to the social intranet, eagerly and frequently. If we had to mandate or otherwise force user engagement, our social intranet would surely be limited in its adoption, and possibly a wasted investment.

Our social intranet has been a dramatic success. And we offer our own experiences as a case study for project managers and developers charged with building a new company intranet or adding social network features to an existing intranet. What can be done with social technologies, and what happens when they are introduced to the enterprise? Let’s find out.

The paper covers several issues we found significant in our social intranet experience, including:

  • Dashboards – the concept of dashboards (which is central to the eXo Platform and to our social intranet) and the benefits and core technology of dashboards:
  • Building and organizing the social intranet –the framework and features of the social intranet.
  • Using the social intranet – our rollout and rapid initial adoption as well as use cases and snapshots.
  • Impact and unexpected benefits – improvements in our day-to-day work experience, including company unification, product development, remote and mobile employees.

Before we move on, let’s put a few things in context. First, “going social” for us was far more than the adoption of Facebook-style posts or Twitter-like activity streams. No doubt, those are significant parts of our social intranet. But eXo itself is an enterprise organization. If we really wanted to go social, we also needed to be able to manage content and collaborate on projects—features that work with, but are distinct from the social aspects. The eXo Platform already included that enterprise functionality, so we added the social features to facilitate the work inspired and informed by social activity.

Second, the eXo social intranet was not our first intranet. Like a lot of companies, our previous intranet was basically a shared drive with no social aspects whatsoever. At best, the static pages made for a great archive and research tool. At worst, information quickly grew stale and got buried. For managers, it was hard to get their teams to pay attention to updates, and it was hard to communicate with other departments. The result? An extremely low user retention rate. Even when we opened the intranet to select partners and customers—using it as a portal—users only came when they were looking for a predetermined resource. Until another, specific document, invoice or file was needed, there was no reason to return to the intranet.

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Stay tuned. We will be publishing more of our journey in creating and using our social intranet throughout this week, here on our blog. First up tomorrow will be: “Dashboards: Central to the Modern Enterprise Intranet.” If you can’t wait, you can jump right to the paper now – it’s available in our new Evaluation Toolkit.

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