Social Intranet, ESN or Digital Workplace?

In the past two years I have been reading quite a lot about intranets, social intranets, intranet 2.0’s, enterprise social networks, digital workplaces, and so on. I’ve seen so many terms that mean almost the same thing that it sometimes sounds like potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto in my head. Know the feeling?

I have also noticed that there seem to be as many different definitions for these as there are writers. It’s not just one time when I have found myself confused after reading a definition for an intranet or other. I’m a marketing person so I tend to spice things up myself but I still value simpleness rather than fancy writing with super sophisticated terms that nobody understands, not to mention those technical descriptions that make me just feel confused.

We, at Universe, use the word digital workplace when we talk about our product. We’ve also used the terms social intranet and enterprise social network in the past. For that reason I find it super important to define these terms now and explain why Universe is actually a digital workplace not just a social tool. This is important thing to understand especially if you compare Universe with other similar products, that probably are social intranets or ESNs, not digital workplaces. Let's start from basics;

Traditional intranet

Traditional intranet, or intranet 1.0 is simply said a company’s internal website. It’s a place where employees go when they need any information related to their company or work. Traditional intranet is managed by internal communications team who is responsible for posting content that they find relevant or helpful for employees - guidelines, policies, new hire materials, forms - and content that is current - company news.

Social intranet

Social intranet, or intranet 2.0, is an evolved intranet. It still holds the important company information and news but it’s enriched with social features. In a social intranet all employees can comment and like the content so the communication flows two ways, top down and bottom up. Typical features in a social intranet include blogs, wikis, and forums. Employees also have their profiles just like in any social media channel. In social intranets one can also store files and share them with colleagues.

Enterprise Social Network

Enterprise Social Network, ESN, is like a company’s internal Facebook. It’s a discussion feed, place where to brainstorm ideas and share materials. It’s a network that easily connects employees together to discuss. Employees have their profiles just like in Facebook which makes it easy to meet new colleagues from other teams and countries. ESN can be used aside with a traditional intranet so a company then has both, the content management system and some social communication functionalities. It goes without saying that an ESN is a much lighter solution than a social intranet where one has also all the intranet pages.

Digital Workplace

Digital workplace is a solution that combines intranet, ESN but also collaboration tools. Simply said, it’s a place where you go to get your work done. It's not just a place where you go to look for some specific information about your work or company. It's neither just a place where you go to discuss or share files. Digital Workplace is a platform where you go to work every morning. The idea is that you no longer need to jump between different tools to discuss, to see the latest company news, to collaborate in Docs, to book meetings, and so on. You have one tool for all that.

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Universe is your digital workplace

So as I said in the beginning, Universe is a digital workplace.It has the important intranet pages (Pages) where employees can also comment and like things. It has team spaces (Channels) where employees can work together, create and share files, and discuss about relevant topics. In team spaces one can also check calendar availability of the team and book meetings based on the recommended time slots. Also Hangouts is integrated to Universe so one can start a video call with a colleague, never having to leave Universe. The front page, as a default, gathers the relevant discussions from the team spaces where one is a member and all the latest company news, both feeds side by side. This makes it easy to stay on top of things with just one glance. This front page view can also be customized for every company's specific needs.

What makes Universe so great is the fact that it has the functionalities you need on daily basis at work. We haven’t integrated all possible features out there because we believe simple tool that people know how to use is a much better solution than one that offers every possible thing, just in case you might want to try them out someday. That would end up to complexity and we don’t want that. We want simpleness.

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