Internal communication tools: exploring the history of discussion forums

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The internet is, essentially, a giant communication device with an ‘information super-highway’ attached for good measure. If we look at the story of how the internet began, we can see it as an epic story of communication. It was, after all, founded though the connecting of several computers in a network so that they could ‘talk’ to each other. That was the basis of the early World Wide Web, and this network idea is still fundamental today. Since its humble beginnings, the Internet has revolutionised not only the computer but the communications world like nothing before or since. In fact, as we hurtle towards a world where we are always connected, the internet has in many ways changed the way we live entirely.

 

Narrowing the focus to internal communication tools

As a medium for collaboration, the internet has also had a major impact on how we work. There are now so many ways of getting in touch with colleagues and customers or broadcasting important information, no matter where they or you are.

But one of the first communication mediums on the internet, before blogs, chat rooms and way before the modern social networks, was the good ol’ online forum.

It began with a virtual bulletin board, known as BBS (Bulletin Board System) where users could log on and upload/download data to a particular board. And from there it progressed to Usenet, which was built in a hierarchical order where each level in the hierarchy is associated with a specific topic or thread; distributed across many servers in a peer-to-peer style. Then came the advent of real-time online communications with IRC (internet relay chat) which was essentially the first kind of chatroom.

Forums are a product of the systems that came before it. Like BBS and Usenet but on much larger scale and more specific in terms of topics and subjects—there are forums dedicated to almost anything you can think of. And most interesting for our post today is that forums are still extremely popular.

In the enterprise, internal forums can be potentially even more useful. From opening a discussion to finding answers to questions that have already been asked, discussion forums can be a great source of information, support adoption of your IT solutions and a boost to your employees’ engagement and productivity levels.

 

Deceptively simple

Forums may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of all the communication platforms across the web, but they make up for that with their usefulness, simplicity and depth.

Usefulness

If you’re investing in an IT infrastructure, a huge imperative is that you get your employees to adopt the tools and solutions. Forums are useful in that they can provide a huge plethora of knowledge and instruction that will aid your users in getting to grips with the tools they need to use.

Simplicity

Discussion forums are straight forward to use. Need to know something or have a question? Look for your topic area, see what people have already said about your area of interest and depending on what you find you can navigate answers and discussions or ask a question yourself.

Depth

Despite their simplicity, discussion forums have the potential to hold and an extraordinary amount of information on both general and highly specific topics related to your organisation. This means that almost no matter what the issue or question or point of order that a user has, it can be easily catered for.

 

Social Squared is an enterprise-grade discussion forum

Social Squared for Office 365 sets enterprise discussion forums into your organisation’s communication arsenal. Forums benefit your users in several ways. For example, they can:

  • Collaborate and communicate better by posting information
  • Ask specific questions
  • Find specific answers quickly
  • Provide feedback to each other

Social Squared is a powerful forum tool, with essential features including Ratings, Voting, Likes, Abuse Reporting, Reply via Email, as well as many others. Because it uses SQL Azure for storage, the performance of the tool is outstanding even if your organisation is made up of thousands of users.

Break down information silos

When someone in your organisation has a question and they email a colleague, they may get a great answer. The problem is no one else gets access to it. This is just one of the ways information silos are created. By leveraging the power of discussion forums, that great answer is suddenly available for anyone who wants or needs it.

Build a foundation of knowledge

There’s no doubt your company has a lot of experience and knowledge within it. the issue is trying to find a way to harness that collective knowledge efficiently. Discussion forums like Social Squared gives your organisation and employees a great outlet for generating a foundation of knowledge that can be easily accessed repeatedly.

Create a culture of learning

People often work better together. That’s why we encourage collaboration. By creating a culture of learning you encourage employees to ask questions and deliver answers that benefit everyone. That makes your workforce more informed and likely more engaged too.

For more information on the potential and influence of enterprise discussion forums, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. Or, get your own free 14-day trial of Social Squared today.