Designing a social intranet

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Like any software or intranet solution, it is easy to simply accept the de facto out-of-the-box (OOB) design and user experience. However, few organizations do that, and most spend a great deal of time and money on the design and user experience.

Philips is a Dutch multinational engineering and electronics conglomerate headquartered in Amsterdam. It was founded in 1891, has 121,000 employees, and more than €23.5 Billion in annual sales. Philips allocates 8% of its sales to innovation, research and development; small surprise then that a company that dedicated to innovation has a highly innovative, social intranet (enterprise social network ).

Connect Us, Philips enterprise social network (ESN) has almost 50,000 users. Powered by Socialcast, the social intranet is owned by Group Internal Communications working closely with the various businesses, and the IT group who is viewed as a “business partner.”

Philips social intranet using Socialcast

Employee profile, Philips enterprise social network, Connect Us

Connect Us was built and designed in 11 weeks – including “business impact analyses and privacy studies” – followed by a Training phase that tested the site with users, and provided training site functions and social “rules of engagement” including bi-weekly group training sessions, and one-on-one session with internal leaders. The new social intranet was launched virally, mostly by word of mouth, with the support of internal social media such as Yammer.

The Connect Us enterprise social network is akin to an advanced profile or employee directory that allow users to profile themselves, and to connect and collaborate with other employees via multiple social avenues:

  • Build and join community (business) groups
  • Share content and files
  • Initiate instant messages
  • Join or comment in discussion forums
  • “Like” others content or comments
  • Send “thanks” badges
  • Ask for help (which pushes requests to relevant, related activity streams)
  • Host town halls (interactive meetings between executives & employees)


The average month sees regular, but not extreme use of the social intranet network:

    • 5,000 messages
    • 220 thanks badges


The Philips enterprise social network case study is but one of the many showcased at this month’s Intranet Global Forum conference in NYC, October 24 and 25 (there are only a few seats left).


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