Executive Viewpoint 2013 Prediction: Workshare

By Barrie Hadfield (Profile)
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Monday, January 21st 2013
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How many emails do you get each day? 50? 100? 200? Being inundated with emails seems to be the norm and, traditionally, storage has been the main issue surrounding it. As such, the Intranet has long been the key in solving this concern, in addition to being a resource for employees to tap into company information. But this problem of storage is changing. Now, it’s no longer about how to handle the influx of emails – the problem has become the human impact these emails have on employees. How can you manage all of these communications? How can you cut down on email overload, but still remain productive and creative?

With this in mind, in 2013 I predict we’ll start to see more organizations shifting away from the Intranet, and instead focusing more on fostering internal communications to leverage the creativity of their teams. Here’s why – whenever I visit a company, I ask the same question:  what is the biggest use of your Intranet site? What it boils down to is most people use the Intranet for disappointingly mundane tasks, like checking to see what’s being offered at the company canteen for lunch or looking for basic information like other employee’s phone numbers. However, this is the least interesting use for it. On the other side of the spectrum, the most interesting use for the Intranet is finding out what other employee’s skills are and connecting with them. But with this in mind, the fact is that the Intranet simply does not enhance collaboration in a better way.

Essentially, there’s a constant contextual discussion going on – people are collaborating across organizations and sharing ideas. Social media channels have not only been a key touch-point in fostering these conversations, but have also helped to reduce the amount of emails people are receiving. It’s vastly more useful than the Intranet in this way. So instead of a lengthy email conversation, or tapping into the Intranet to find out some piece of information, you can simply instant message a co-worker or voice your opinions on Twitter, for instance. This also boosts collaboration across international organizations. The benefits are numerous, really.

The question then becomes how do organizations make room for this? Segmentation will be critical, especially in thinking about how we use these social sites. For instance, LinkedIn is generally for external communication, Twitter for advancing our interests and causes, and email is what is used internally. There’s a gap here that’s providing an opening in a really crowded piece. This space is social networking, but just for internal use. It’s about social collaboration with walls. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – you can’t control any of these outlets, but they are mouthpieces for communicating to the world. In 2013, I bet we’ll be seeing a lot more companies leveraging these internally as new regulations are further developed.