Employees today are spread out across countries and continents. It can be difficult to share ideas, connect with each other, and tap into existing expertise and insight. Many medium to large companies with a global workforce struggle to keep employees connected and fail to harness the power of collaboration.
An organization should be able to tap into the collective intelligence of its workforce and find specific information quickly and easily when needed. Many organizations suffer from information silos, where knowledge is tied up in emails and in the minds of employees.
So, how does an organization overcome this barrier and stimulate collaboration among employees?
The answer is simple: implement intranet software.
Collaboration is essential to effective business performance, and this requires access to information and people. Traditional knowledge management tools fail in this regard. Global teams work at different hours and with different members contributing different aspects to large projects and endeavors. It becomes essential that communication is flexible, open, and fast. Employees need to be able to communicate with each other quickly outside of their designated departments and teams.
Intranet software enables employees to collaborate in real-time, regardless of location. Knowledge is centralized and accessible, connecting employees, managers, vendors, and partners as and when needed. Instead of sifting through endless email chains or struggling to find necessary files dumped in an online file sharing site, your team and your company as a whole can benefit from immediate access to all necessary information.
Search capabilities in intranet software are far more advanced than email or simple file sharing programs. You are able to enter terms in the intranet search engine and find all knowledge related to that topic including discussions, wikis, blogs, and files ... while also clearly identifying topic experts.
When using intranet software, companies can equip their employees with better collaboration tools to work together regardless of geographic location or functional role. By breaking down information silos and barriers imposed by location or department, companies empower their workforce and improve employee productivity.
Since employees have access to relevant information they need more quickly when they use intranet software, they are also able to respond faster to problems. They can do their jobs better and have access to the information and the expertise they need in a timely fashion. Employees are also able to post questions, share feedback and insight, and contribute to solving problems of other employees. This sharing of information taps into the collective intelligence of organizations that is not often available in company emails or file cabinets. As information gathering is accelerated, response times are also faster.
Just as knowledge can get siphoned off into information silos such as emails, experts in your organization may also be easily ignored and forgotten. Having a common platform to share, learn, and collaborate enables key experts to share their knowledge and be visible across the organization. This speeds up problem-solving as employees do not have to waste time trying to track down knowledgeable staff as well as encouraging hardworking and enterprising employees. Appreciating employees who contribute is essential to keeping a high quality workforce and retaining top talent.
Mobility is increasingly important to employees as they may have flexible work schedules due to attending school, having children, or living in distant locations. Being able to access information on the go through your mobile intranet becomes very important. In addition to flexible work schedules, employees may also need access to data and employee insight via their cell phones, tablet devices, and laptops on sales trips, networking events, and other important company events. Having access to the latest information and ideas from their teams can make a significant difference for sales teams.
Intranet software enables you to tap into the power of ideation tools and techniques, similar to crowdsourcing. This enrourages engagement, innovation, and helpful feedback. Source thoughts, opinions, and ideas from employees, customers, and partners. You can vote on them and let the best ideas rise to the top.
Utilizing intranet software has enabled forward-thinking companies to harness the power of their people with the speed and scale of the ever-evolving web. Social media has become a staple method of communication in the lives of most adults connected to the Internet. As people use social media platforms to share and seek out information, it makes sense for organizations to tap into this natural inclination and include social engagement as part of their company initiatives.
Companies can gain significant insight into both their employees as well as their customers. They are able to develop better bonds with their employees, while increasing employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. With customers, companies are able to better understand customer motivations and needs, thus developing better targeted messaging, products, and services.
While as high as 72% of all companies have developed full-fledged social media campaigns to engage customers across verticals, many have yet to leverage the potential of using intranet software within their organization.
A McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) study estimates that companies can reap as high as twice the value they achieve now via customer engagement across social technologies by tapping into social collaboration right within their own organization. By implementing these technologies, MGI estimates that companies can raise employee productivity, including management, by as much as 20 to 25%.
In an extensive study, The Social Economy: Unlocking value and Productivity through Social Technologies, they explored the economic impact of leveraging intranet software in four commercial sectors - consumer packaged goods, retail financial services, advanced manufacturing. and professional services. MGI discovered that by unlocking information tied up in information silos and enhancing communication using intranet software, companies could improve employee productivity across the value chain, resulting in as much as $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value.
The majority of this value lies in enhancing communications, sharing knowledge, and employee collaboration. For example, an average professional worker spends as much as 28% of the week managing email and 20% searching for information. However, when companies adopt an intranet as the platform for communication and knowledge sharing, all information is accessible in one location and search can be reduced by as much as 35%.
In order to fully access the benefits of social intranet software and improve employee productivity, you need to have an effective strategy in place that is regularly updated. You need the structure, process, and culture to support the change and transformation that comes along with it. Sharing information across an organization engenders trust and transforms a company into a more open organization that is less hierarchical in nature. Create an atmosphere where employees feel safe and empowered to collaborate with each other and share their opinions and ideas.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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