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Intranet, Collaborative Portal, Corporate Social Network, Social CRM… It’s sometimes difficult for a company to make wise choices. Despite a booming world market – in 2012, IDC forecast a Corporate Social worth 4.5 billion dollars in 2016,whereas a Pierre Audoin Consultants*study announced 10% average annual growth up to 2015 – France seems to be less favorable to CSNs, with a turnover of “only” 230 million euros. The reason: a functional scope which is still unclear for the deciders. Stéphane Minozzi, Manager of the e-business division of Micropole Rhône-Alpes, sheds light on the different collaborative solutions and their development.
Micropole: What were the first collaborative-type solutions to be implemented within corporations ?
Stéphane Minozzi: Many companies in France, from SMEs to the biggest groups, have deployed one, even several intranets, and this since the web has been widely accessible from the end of the nineties /beginning of the decade. This goal of these ‘first era’ solutions was for top-down communication from management to staff. HR and in-house communication management wished to ride the wave of social networks to implement the same codes in the intranet, to encourage staff to be more active and at the same time to make in-company communication smoother.
Micropole: What’s the status today on these Corporate social networks ?
Stéphane Minozzi: This ‘second generation’ which emerged two or three years ago is still in the experimental stages. Some companies have, however, taken the plunge by implementing real communication tools which are totally open, such as Sanofi-Pasteur or Lafarge. Nevertheless, these tools currently run outside of the group intranet, which today raises the question of their integration with the existing system without impairing either the intranet or the corporate social network. At the same time, the enterprises which have not yet crossed over are coming back to channels which are more suited to the professional world. In fact, in CSNs, the identification of actors induces a certain restraint, a fact which necessarily limits contributions. Posting under one’s name does not incite free speech, and the initial hope of an intranet publishing less ‘guarded’ information has not been shown.
Micropole: Are we talking about ‘going backwards’ then ?
Stéphane Minozzi : Not exactly. In some countries, the term ‘social’ has a class struggle connotation which can put off management, who always wish to control their communication. Now we speak of Corporate Collaborative Networks. CCNs include the same collaborative features - wikis, chats, forums, blogs, FAQs… -; only the ‘Free-speech’ features are not integrated. The goal of CCNs is to continue to empower the employee in corporate life. In the current economic climate, numerous mergers and acquisitions make a collaborative portal essential to maintain unity within a group. The idea is to present a consistent vision to the staff, as the SODIAAL group did on their recent buyout of the Entremont Company, implementing a real collaborative portal for all the group units. So it’s not a question of going backwards, but in France, our social and cultural codes induce stronger self-censorship of speech (in public), unlike in Anglo-Saxon countries. Management must therefore manage this framework to be able to galvanize their intranets and ease communication between all corporate actors.
* PAC – RSE study, Portals and collaborative tools
Stéphane MINOZZI / firstname.lastname@example.org