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 NetworkWorld.com: 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.