Yonina Eisenberg

The Battle between the Traditional Intranet and the Enterprise Social Network

In today’s world, many companies are introducing social tools on their once traditional intranets. However, a recent CMS Wire article argues that simply adding social tools to an intranet does not qualify as implementing an enterprise social network, because these platforms are still used in very different ways. Here are 3 key aspects that distinguish an enterprise social network from a traditional intranet:

1. Monologue vs. Dialogue

As the above article notes, intranets are set up for one-way communication: an intranet is a place for an organization to convey announcements, company materials, and general information to its employees. Enterprise social networks, however, foster two-way communication amongst colleagues. Rather than simply looking at posted content, employees can actually engage with the material and each other.

2. Static vs. Dynamic

Intranets are composed of fixed content. As such, they can quickly become irrelevant and dated, if they are not well-maintained. On enterprise social networks, however, colleagues constantly converse and share important information with one another. Therefore, these networks are always changing and up to date.

3. External vs. Internal

The intranet may not be an external platform, but another CMS Wire article describes the traditional intranet as a “one page launch pad to all external systems.” Thus, the intranet is merely a means through which to find a company’s external work spaces. Alternatively, since the enterprise social network is a conversational and dynamic space, work and collaboration actually occur within the platform itself.

A traditional intranet and an enterprise social network are clearly very different. However, this does not necessarily mean that the two platforms are currently battling to the death. Rather than going extinct, maybe the intranet is simply evolving.

These days we often hear the words “modern intranet,” which encapsulates a combination of the traditional intranet and the enterprise social network. Another recent article states that “the modern intranet is indeed social,” and so this hybrid model seems to suggest that there is a happy medium between the two platforms. A modern intranet is not just a place where you go to get information, nor is it a place where you go only to socialize and collaborate. Rather, it is a balanced forum in which you can accomplish all of the above.