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Intranet Advent Day 20 – Late adopters have feelings too

Intranet Advent Day 20 – Late adopters have feelings too

20We’re counting down to Christmas with a stocking-filler tip every day.

If you’re seen as the ‘techy’ person in your household then there’s a good chance some of your Christmas day will be spent trouble-shooting a relative’s newly acquired tablet / smartphone / smoke detector, with them cheerfully declaring that they “don’t understand these things”.

In the digital workplace it’s easy to forget just how wide the spread of people’s skills can be. Inevitably as intranet managers and communicators we have a sample bias: a disproportionate number of people in our networks are probably very active online, so it looks normal to us. But pause for a moment and try to answer these two questions (no peeking):

  1. How many active Twitter users are there globally?
  2. How many Internet users are there globally?

Most people would see Twitter as a very successful social network, but only around 10% of the potential user base is on there (see below). If you pitched an enterprise social network (ESN) to your boss saying “It’ll be really popular – almost 10% of our employees will love it!”, I doubt they’d be impressed.

We all know Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation bell curve, but this originates in consumer take-up models; in the enterprise when we roll out a new technology we effectively compel people to use an innovation ahead of their natural readiness to adopt it.

This isn’t just about having a ‘change management’ programme if we’re talking about building strong networks, bridging silos etc. where employees still have a choice about participation. If you’re planning a social intranet or ESN ask:

  • Is the business case still valid if only 20% or 40% of our employees use it?
  • Are early pilot successes misleading because they drew in only people who are early adopters of this kind of thing outside work?
  • Have we planned enough resources to engage the early and late majority?

Future comms

Answers to the quiz

  1. Twitter has 284m monthly active users according to Twitter (Dec 2014).
  2. There were an estimated 3.04bn internet users in mid-204 according to Internet World Stats.

Check #intranetadvent for a fresh idea each day.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

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