In today’s interconnected workforce, where mobile devices and cloud technologies make it easy to work from anywhere, any time, it’s no longer necessary for every employee within a team or a company to be in a single location to work together or collaborate.

Collaboration across a distributed workforce is more possible than ever with platforms that foster communication and teamwork. An environment where employees have the necessary technologies to work together can promote engagement and productivity.

To collaborate efficiently, however, many organizations are turning to multiple, disparate workforce apps. We use different apps for video chat, file sharing, document collaboration – not to mention we still use email to communicate with one another inside an organization more than any other method. In fact, research shows the average business uses 27 different storage apps and 41 different human resources apps.

But wouldn’t it be easier if there was one platform that combined all these services and enabled improved collaboration for multiple, remote teams – while still remaining secure and protecting an organization’s IP?

That’s exactly what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was looking for last year in a social intranet. For NATO, it was important to have a platform that made it easy for teams across different offices and countries to work together, communicate and collaborate on files, projects and more.

Most important for an organization like NATO, where securing confidential and sensitive data is crucial, was finding a platform that could be deployed behind its firewall. As an intergovernmental military alliance, NATO needed a platform with strict security requirements. While NATO uses Microsoft SharePoint for classified files, it wanted a platform where employees could easily find unclassified yet sensitive information through a quick, intelligent search.

But with employees working across its 28 member nations, plus partnerships and programs with a variety of other countries, being able to share information across a large, distributed organization was key. The initial deployment would start with 1,500 NATO employees from around the globe and later expanding to 10,000 employees.

The main challenge NATO aimed to solve with an intranet was information silos. While there was good transparency across the organization, employees worked in silos without much cross-team collaboration. NATO wanted to be able to find employees with particular skills or knowledge, regardless of what team they worked on. It believed this could be a way to encourage employees to work on different projects or departments, and keep them engaged and motivated, while decreasing employee turnover.

By using a social intranet platform where employees can follow, like, comment and share information and topics they are interested in or know a good deal about, NATO would be able to identify the best resources for new teams, projects or divisions, and facilitate job rotation.

Additionally, NATO wanted a platform that was easy to use and had minimal ramp-up time. With ambitious plans of rolling out the platform to 10,000 members worldwide, it had to ensure the user interface was intuitive and would promote rapid adoption across the organization.

An “off-the-shelf” approach would mean deploying a tool within an organization would be quick and easy. And an intuitive user interface that mimics social network also makes it easy for people to start using it without much training required.

Another compelling capability for NATO was a collaboration platform that supported Web-based real time communications (WebRTC). With this open-source API standard, NATO could provide videoconferencing, instant messaging and other real-time communications without the need for additional plug-ins.

NATO’s aim of improving work efficiency and effectiveness, facilitating collaboration and communication, and encouraging the identification and the sharing of expertise led them to choose a social intranet.

This represented a cultural shift in an organization with strict security policies and standards that would find a balance between transparency and security. With more and more organizations recognizing the need for a more modern workplace that fits today’s employee, social enterprise collaboration platforms will be at the top of this enterprise IT transformation.