Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The human factor as criterion for the Intranet (Intranet 2009)

René Jansen of Winkwaves talks on 'De menselijke maat als toetssteen voor het intranet' [The human factor as criterion for the intranet] at Intranet 2009.

Stresses that we and most people are knowledge workers. How are these workers motivated? Not by clicking through their ERP system. He believes we should focus on social networking and use it more inside organizations. He talks us back to the way it used to be.

Communication used to be direct. Then mediated communication came around (post cards, etc.). Next step is mass communication (TV, radio). This implied the distance between individuals increased. We needed new way to manage our contacts. This is the start of social networking, Rene says, to find back weak ties. It is also used to maintain social ties. We use social networks to get new contacts and maintain them. But what are these connections and what do they mean? What does the number of friends in your social network (tool) mean? 17 friends is a lot in the real world. In the virtual world you're a looser...

Rene also asks who's Twittering. Not too many. Follow tweet at #intra09. He encourages Twittering meetings and at conferences.

But what is the consequence of being in social networks. From the day we are born we're in them. People set up websites for their babies. In the new mobile world this will increase even more. These networks are (becoming) the mirror of our lives.

But what does this mean for intranet? We'll organization have become more and more virtual too. More distance. But how do we maintain our network? We need social network tooling in our companies. We need a social intranet, connecting people to people.

You need to things:

  1. Designing a social intranet
  2. Hosting a social intranet.

Uses the analogy of a rose. And points to one of the most successful social networking sites, LastFM. Funny, it's now being used for something totally different than for what it was intended. For designing the social intranet you need a different way of looking.

Design is purposed activity to transform human thinking and behavior. He also defines social software. It's a thing with which you can live. He points to the soft systems methodology (Beer): rich picture > relevant (social) systems > model development > transformation (and back to 'rich picture' - circle). Stresses that we should really understand the way our customer/people work. Don't give them what they ask for (right away).

Rene states you can design for sociality. Shows model. And gives example of how political party website (D66) was improved using it.

In sum: when thinking about an intranet try to ask the answer the question how you can help knowledge workers connect so they can to their work. Use the soft systems methodology to improve your intranet.

Whitepapers can be found on Winkwaves on their method(ology).

One big tip by Rene: understand what people are doing and why.

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