Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Upside Down Enterprise Portal

A new type of “citizen editor” is emerging, becoming a trusted source of curated content on the web.

I’m a curator of news. Like many people, I use twitter to gather the latest in technology opinions and developments. My particular interest is Social Business and Mobile gadgetry. Other people follow photography, sports, science or one of any variety of focused niche topics out on the web.

When we find something interesting, we retweet (RT) it to our Twitter followers or share it with our Facebook friends. Sometimes we send it as is, other times we add a commentary and pass it on. Most of the time, we are tweeting links (URLs) to other content. We are sending “pointers,” so to speak, to content that we find interesting on the web. Over time, we gather a following and become a valuable editor or curator of the news. Some turn it into a business like Mashable or Engadget. Others just do it as a hobby and use their “passion” to build relationships with like minded people or those wanting to learn more about that particular subject.

This model of curating information has turned the traditional media on its head. Gone are the days when a few powerful editors of the major print and television news outlets decide what the world should know. Do you remember the days before CNN when just three broadcast networks decided what to share with the public every night on the evening news? Times are certainly different now with many varying outlets to source our information. The real value comes when our “social network” shares what they feel is relevant. A new type of “citizen editor” is emerging, becoming a trusted source of curated content on the web.

On a typical day, I will monitor twitter feeds early and late in the day to catch up on the events, attitudes, and happenings. I have become efficient with the RT (retweet) as a means to share what I am learning. In fact this innate desire to share is driving the explosive growth of the social web.

Twitter has the “ReTweet”, Facebook has the “Like”, and Google just recently announced the “+1”. In fact if you look around, the ability to share is everywhere on the social web. Aging systems have the "email only" share choice, but modern software is being fitted with increasingly sophisticated share mechanisms that make it easy to share relevant content with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and a host of other groups.

On my iPad, applications like Zite, Pulse, and even Murdoch's The Daily all build in native functionality to share content that the reader finds interesting. YouTube even does it, but still ignores the "tweet this" option. It really is a new way to promote content and get the word out, taking advantage of the clout and credibility of friends or colleagues to share content that they find interesting within their social circle. Content goes "viral" quickly and takes on a life of its own when friends share it with friends.

So, where am I going with this? I had the "Aha!" moment recently as I was at the office reading news stories from the corporate intranet. I found a great story and wanted to share it with my corporate colleagues (aka followers). The familiar share button I always find on the public web was missing. Why don't we build this share capability into today’s enterprise portal? This new way of the emerging “citizen editor” can be applied to the corporate intranet as a means to share content relevant to the employee masses. It can be done much more effectively than the old Network News model when Corporate Communications comes up with slick stories and pushes it on all the employees.

This “secret sauce” of the modern intranet embraces the same concept. Abandon the old push model and embrace the “citizen editor” or “employee curator” concept as a means to share news and make stories and messages go viral in your company. Engagement goes up, good ideas spread, and information is quickly shared within a healthy collaborative culture.

Do you like the idea? Below is a straw man proposal to consider as you go through the next redesign of your corporate intranet.

Tomorrow's Social Intranet environment should have the following basic building blocks:
  • Self Service Employee profile with IM presence
  • Microblogging function (See Rawn Shah's Forbes post)
  • Ability to follow / friend a colleague
  • Corporate and user generated news feeds / articles
  • Blogging platform
  • Wiki platform (for collaborative authoring)
To make it truly social, add these advanced sharing (curation) abilities:
  • Share ideas (tweets) internally with followers / colleagues / or the entire company
  • Tweets should include any content on the intranet or internet
  • Share button built into all content pages
  • Metrics to track number of shares for each piece of content
  • Most popular content is automatically featured on the portal home page
To make this content truly accessible it should be available on various form factors:
  • Desktop / laptop access for all functions
  • VPN remote access for all functions
  • Mobile access on all popular platforms (Android, iOS, RIM, …) for limited functions such as news, microblogging, email, calendar, alerts
  • Mobile access on employee’s personal devices
Finally along with the technology, there needs to be an equal or greater effort paid to the cultural change needed for a culture of collaboration, trust, authenticity, and transparency.

We are a few years into a revolution of content sharing and creation on the social web. It is only a matter of time before employees demand the same functionality within their corporate intranets. The smart communications officer will see the future being played out on the social web and begin to implement it within the enterprise today.

What do you think? Do you have examples where forward thinking enterprises are doing this already? Do you agree that this is the future? Or do you have another view. Please add your view in the comments below or in your tweets, shares and +1s.


  1. Share! Like! RT! +1! Great post, as always, Jim.

  2. Great post! Agreed that it's too hard to share information within the enterprise. Also in the enterprise not everyone is going to be monitoring Twitter: the social intranet should provide the tools to allow the non-twitterati to stay aware of new information.

  3. Great post Jim! I especially like your straw man proposal - it really solidifies the features, behaviors and access points.

    I read this article yesterday about Preparing for Serendipity and liked the analogy made regarding regarding important news. We may not be tracking all the news. If it is really important, we will hear about it via someone we know/our network. Your blog post also describes this benefit of networks and curation very well!

  4. Great post. How cool would it be to see the CEO monitoring and retweeting the good stuff that bubbles up in an organization?

    A forward thinking Board of Directors would demand that their IT department implement such a social networking option.

    Most of the best ideas will bubble up from the people who are interfacing with the customers all day. Why not give them the means of efficiently sharing those ideas?

  5. You had me at "I'm a curator of news." ;-)

    All great points. Does your org have an internal "" service as well? What about an internal YouTube instance? These are important pieces to the internal social collaboration story as well, IMHO.

    My only other question good friend is that you don't mention that archaic bastion known as the LMS. (learning management system to those that aren't in the acronym olympics)

    That needs to be federated into the Corp 2.0 Intranet so users can perform all of the aforementioned actions on formal courses as well such as ranking, sharing, and so on.

    See this

  6. Great points Dan. Thanks...Maybe I'll do an updated post sometime to get these and other points I'm sure I missed. Enterprises certainly need a roadmap for the Social Intranet or "Corp 2.0 Intranet" as you call it.

    Mark, Trisha, Jeff and Susan. Thanks for the affirmation as well.

  7. Outstanding premise and very thought-provoking.

  8. A Sound fundamental idea and some great suggestions. Some modern intranets are set up so that stuff you bookmark is reflected in your activity stream and sharing can happen through that mechanism to people who follow you or one of the tags you applied to the bookmark. But sometimes you just want to share, not bookmark.