Shatter Knowledge Silos With Your Social Intranet

Kari-Lynn O'Neil | November 12, 2015

Corporate structures often lead to knowledge silos at many businesses.

Sales departments have all of the knowledge about clients and sales processes. Research departments house the details about research projects. Accounting departments maintain information on the real financial impact of the organization’s operations.

Frequently, these departments do not share information with one another. Sometimes, especially in larger organizations, the departments may rarely communicate, with interactions existing solely between department heads.

The Dangers Of Knowledge Silos

When departments hoard all of the institutional knowledge about their particular area of expertise, businesses suffer.

First, when departments do not communicate with one another and have limited contact, a factional mentality develops. These departments no longer have the business’s best interests in mind; they have the department’s best interests in mind. This may lead to a severe lack of cooperation between departments.

Worse, these knowledge silos may lead to lost revenue. For instance, imagine if the sales department is trying to close a deal that depends on information the operations department maintains. In a siloed organization, the sales rep must contact his department head, who then contacts the head of research, who then has to gather the information from her team. At best, this wastes time in the sales process. At worse, it could result in the sale falling apart.

While knowledge silos do develop naturally over time and may seem inevitable, companies that use social intranets or employee communities to connect their employees and business processes significantly reduce the risk of damage these silos may cause.

Social Intranets Improve Knowledge Sharing And Employee Communication

Social intranets or employee communities have replaced outdated employee portals for many forward-thinking businesses. Whereas employee portals only facilitate one-way communication and offer limited functionality, new social-optimized platforms offer multi-channel communication and many other features that foster interdepartmental cooperation.

First, companies use social intranet platforms to move conversations from private emails to public chat spaces. This provides knowledge holders access to conversations happening and the ability to add valuable information, even if they weren’t originally included in the conversation. Additionally, when employees discussing a certain project realize they require input from knowledge experts, they’re able to easily alert them that their guidance is needed.

Also, a business may use its online community for employees to store all of their knowledge resource documents. This enables employees to quickly access information without having to ask different departments.

Social Intranets Foster Collaboration And Employee Engagement

Social intranet platforms also go a long way toward increasing employee collaboration and engagement.

Not only are employees able to more easily chat and share knowledge, but they also feel more connected to their colleagues, which improves collaboration. Employee communities offer the option for employees to create customized profiles that highlight their areas of expertise and personality. Eventually, this could lead to employees self-organizing and freely collaborating, using their different skill sets to develop innovative ideas that help the company as a whole succeed.

Knowledge silos and a lack of interdepartmental cooperation hold companies back from achieving their true potential. Social intranets or employee communities help break down these silos to fuel growth, progress and achievement.

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