Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Facebook as an Intranet

Bill Ives wrote on the The FASTForward Blog about how Serena has Adopted Facebook as Their Intranet. They established a private group in Facebook for the company's employees. They built a few Facebook applications to interact with a simple content management system behind their firewall.

One of the reasons I use and experiment with Facebook is to see how a tool like it could work inside the enterprise. On our intranet, like on most intranets, the photobook/employee directory is the most widely visited site. I think it would be great to have more robust personal and professional information in the system.

If Facebook offered an enterprise edition, I would buy it. Of course the enterprise would have to force some content onto each profile: extensions, title, etc. But lots of features could carry over and be successful inside the enterprise. Then, think about the application integration into other systems inside the enterprise. For instance, you could publish a list of matters the person is working on.

Groups of people with similar interests could form spontaneously and have a platform to form, communicate and share information. I would encourage the formation of groups for both personal and professional purposes. It would be great for attorneys interested in Malaysian investments to form a group. It would be equally great for staff and attorneys interested in knitting to form a group and share information.

I think this ability form online communities would lead to better job satisfaction and better employee retention. Susan Hanley posted an article on Can online collaboration help with employee retention?
"I was approached by a community member who came up to me to share that she was still at the company for one and only one reason: because of the connections she’d made with people she would otherwise never have met in the community of practice of which she was a member. Some of her connections were made at face to face events, but far more were made in the online community forum. She worked in a regional office and had a competency in a unique skill area that made her feel a bit isolated among her local colleagues. As a result, she began a job search to find an environment in which she would feel less isolated and more connected. When she became involved in the community of practice, she found a group of like-minded people with similar skills who could help discuss and resolve thorny problems and share emerging ideas, and at one point, get her assigned to a project that turned out to be a turning point in her career development."
Of course we want employees to work towards the mission of the enterprise. But we also need them to connect with their co-workers, whether the co-worker is next door or on the other side of the country.

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