Social Office — Intranet 2.0: optimal conversation, saves time and increases productivity

Social Office — Intranet 2.0: optimal conversation, saves time and increases productivity

In the world of work today, internal corporate communication is vitally important. It has a significant influence on the business process and controls the flow of information. Up until now, the conventional Intranet has been used to meet the growing requirements in information management. Due to the increasing importance of the use of the Internet, above all with regard to its use on mobile applications, e.g. via smartphones, it is becoming more and more difficult for the traditional Intranet to keep up-to-date from a technology perspective. Often, “efficient interaction” can only be achieved to a limited extent, as the Intranet lacks the collaborative components that are now indispensable in modern working life. The user’s desire to search for information and find it quickly often clashes with the capabilities of a traditional Intranet. Today, there is increasing demand for a pull medium, in which important information is provided in a central tool but without leading to a flood of information.
The fact that employees are now working on a decentralized basis also demands a lot from the Intranet. For example, if an employee is working in a home office or is on site at a customer’s premises, it is difficult for him to access project-specific information via the latest end devices.

Observation of the private use of social networks reveals several aspects that make a connection between social media and the Intranet interesting. The fun factor plays a very important role. Social media are fun. People share emotions with one another, provide information in virtual topic rooms, and receive direct feedback from other users. There is no top-down communication in which interesting facts are primarily distributed by the company itself. Here, the users receive reactions and knowledge in real time, providing the basis for enriching conversations and valuable generation of knowledge.

As far as the work environment is concerned, the integration of a social Intranet is an opportunity to optimize collaboration in a team. From a company perspective, a social office can convey the culture and values of the business in a targeted way. The use of a social Intranet makes information transparent, enabling users to react flexibly to requirements. Intranet 2.0 also serves as a channel for feedback. With the active cooperation of the users, individual feedback can be grouped in aggregated feedback that gives the company management an up-to-date report on the project situation and that can reflect moods.

A social Intranet is therefore the indispensable development of classic corporate communication into an Intranet with the integration of social media. In contrast to the conventional Intranet, Intranet 2.0 makes it possible to distribute employee knowledge dynamically. It supports the business objective of finding the right contact person for project-specific requirements.

The user and his individual input are at the heart of social corporate communication. In contrast to the Intranet, employees become authors and engage actively in a social Intranet. By creating and designing their own content, they create valuable user-generated content. They participate in blogs, Wikis, and corporate communication, and thus allow the creation of bottom-up communication. Employees influence the entire appearance of the Intranet with regard to layout, design, and content, in accordance with their own individual wishes and needs.

In summary, the primary features of a social Intranet are the networking and collaboration of the employees, the sharing of knowledge, and the joining together of interest and expert groups. With the support of a social Intranet, you can therefore achieve the goal of increasing the overall performance of the organization and satisfying the growing innovation dynamics.

“Social Office” modernizes corporate communication

“Social Office” from Liferay combines the classic components of an Intranet, such as the distribution of information in a company, with the modern social media applications in an ideal way.

In a typical working day, it is very handy to be able to switch on your computer in the morning and see a central overview of all important information and interesting reports from other colleagues at a glance.

In Liferay Social Office, users can create their own employee profile with a contact photo.
In the Liferay Social Office personal Dashboard, a user can record status notifications and receive a list overview of all contributions made by colleagues. These contributions can be commented on and evaluated. If users are “followers” of other users, all of the activities of the user being followed are displayed in the personal Dashboard area. The Dashboard acts as an activity stream, keeping the user up-to-date with the desired contributions of other users and essential corporate information. To ensure that the employee is always informed about new contributions from colleagues, he is notified when any new contributions are made.

In Social Office, contacts can be managed via the Contacts Center. Users can send other users contact requests and add colleagues to their contact list, which promotes meaningful employee networking. Users can use a search function to filter colleagues by skills in order to find the correct contact person for project-related tasks. A list of all contacts is displayed in alphabetical order, although users can also search for specific contacts via the search function. When a contact is selected in the list, all files previously exchanged with this contact are displayed in the view.

The microblog feature is ideal for brief, meaningful information. In chronological order, it displays brief items of news published by contacts in your own contact list. A microblog is usually less than 200 characters and can be used to make a short and significant statement that other users can also comment on.

The introduction of a social Intranet is very beneficial in preventing the flood of emails and directing individual items of relevant information to the correct person within a company. Information in the form of notifications or contributions is created in context-related project rooms and so all users assigned to the virtual projects become recipients of this information. Therefore, the people writing the news items do not have to add individual recipients to their contributions and, instead, can reach them automatically through the topic room.
Liferay Social Office makes information and project work transparent but also offers the option of exchanging personal messages with colleagues. Under the “Messages” navigation item, messages can be marked as read or unread or can be deleted. When writing messages, users have the option of uploading relevant documents or attaching other files.

In everyday project work you have to coordinate appointments on a daily basis. The calendar function in Liferay Social Office organizes the sometimes extensive everyday project work of the user. Appointments can be added and tracked using a structured calendar view. Past and upcoming events can be found quickly, and other users’ calendars can be viewed. To cleverly combine appointments with the appropriate resources, users can check the availability of resources and then select them.

The search for context-based documents is another helpful function. The “My Documents” storage facility provides a structured solution with integrated index and full text search. Documents can be added to your own profile, sorted, and managed. To save users a lengthy search, files can also be found easily via a search screen.

To make remote project work easier, virtual work rooms can be created. These help the teams to organize themselves independently and thus support successful collaboration. Knowledge platforms arise from the virtual project rooms. These are maintained sustainably beyond the end of the project. Any participant can then call up the information from a project at any time. This prevents important findings from collaborative work from being lost.

Social Office groups also have a central group Dashboard which displays published activities and advertised tasks. Members of the group can record and manage entries, set bookmarks, and access group messages via an RSS service. In keeping with the calendar, task, and document functions in the personal employee profile, the features are also available to the members within a group.

Using the forums within the groups, users can record and track contributions and subscribe to categories and threads. Threads are the hierarchical discussions within the forums that can be found via a search screen in Social Office.

To organize the management of the knowledge and strengthen the transfer of knowledge, a corresponding platform on which topics can be handled in sufficient depth is required. The aim of a virtual communication room is to break up the pockets of knowledge of individual employees or departments and turn them into corporate know-how. The Liferay Social Office Blog is precisely this type of communication room, in which content can be logged or thoughts shared. The blogger in a group provides information about his group work or shares his ideas with other members. The messages are displayed to the users in chronological order.

The availability of a company Wiki is another factor in successful information management. In the Social Office Wiki, all members of a group can document information and access it at any time as required. The Wiki collects the findings of all members of the group and is thus useful reference tool.

When speed is of the essence in everyday work life and you have to contact someone from a project group quickly, member management is a practical function in Social Office. Members are listed in alphabetical order and you can search for them and invite new members into the group.

For communication, an informal transmission of knowledge is now indispensable even in a company environment. With the revolution of social networks, the integration of a chat function is an attractive solution that allows users to share information with colleagues about topics in real time.

From its many years of experience with numerous customers, ETECTURE has developed a further plug-in in collaborative project management. The new feature makes it possible to conduct projects in a group-dynamic collaboration.
The collaboration that is aimed at today is supported by project management insofar as holders of knowledge create and implement tasks with the corresponding know-how.
In future, people responsible for projects will then be able to focus on the global organization and control of the project while the participants create specific tasks in order to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

[Technical article by Neda Teyfuri, Information Architect, ETECTURE 2014]