Traditional vs Social intranets, the war is over!

The Column Two blog is a great source for guidance and tips relating to intranet management and this week saw them produce another really interesting post on Traditional vs Social intranets. In the post called "Traditional vs Social intranets: the war is over without a shot being fired" James Robertson looks at how there has been a widely held perception that these two types of intranets are at war with one another.

James starts by outlining what many consultants and expert consider the attributes of these different types of intranets.

“Traditional”

  • content heavy
  • top-down corporate communications
  • publishing, not conversations
  • documents, forms and records
  • driven by a few
  • aligned with hierarchical organisational models
  • unchanged for a decade
  • going the way of the dinosaurs

“Social   

  • collaboration and conversations
  • driven by people, not content
  • emergent, organic
  • flexible and responsive
  • flows, not stocks
  • driven by the consumerisation of technology
  • the visible face of new business models
  • the way of the future

James then asks the question, which I believe is the key point of the post. Do these views of current intranets reflect what’s happening in the real world, away from consultants and experts? James suggests perhaps not and argues that vendors of social tools, portals and intranets have been incorporating social features for some time now. You only have to look at what Microsoft have done with SharePoint and their acquisition of Yammer to understand the impact collaboration has had on what until recently would have been called a traditional intranet solution. Ultimately the developments these vendors are putting in place are to demonstrate that their tool can answer a business need.

The other perspective James look at is from an organisation, arguing that whilst a few organisations have taken significant steps to making their intranets more social many other organisations are in the very early stages of adoption. I think it's interesting that James says organisations are piloting collaborative platforms, with a view to incorporate it within a single solution. This struck a chord with me as it seems that lots of people I speak to have what I would call a "mix and match" approach. That is that they provide a "traditional" intranet alongside a collaborative tool like Yammer or Confluence.

Summing up James says that there actually wasn't a war. Intranets have evolved and will continue to do so as the expectations of users around collaboration increases.