Stop the presses! The intranet isn’t dead.
Declared dead during the 90’s, the intranet has been reincarnated.
The intranet of 2016 takes many shapes and sizes, not uncommon when
something returns from the dead.
For some, it’s an internal wiki. For others, it’s an Enterprise Social Network (ESN). For still others, it’s an employee portal that keeps the entire organization up to date.
How does your IT team select the intranet software your company is using? Let’s consider the typical scenarios.
Scenario #1: Your Existing Productivity Suite
The simplest option for IT leaders.
Characteristics: Simple needs. A desire for low cost and quick deployment.
A B2B technology start-up uses Google Apps for Work: Gmail for email, Calendar for scheduling, Hangouts for meetings and Docs for document management.
Each team wants to manage their department page on the intranet.
The CIO selects Google Sites as the organization’s intranet software: it’s part of Google Apps for
Work, is available via the cloud and has built-in intranet templates
that suit the organization’s needs. The CIO can have each team updating
their department pages in a matter of hours.
Pros: Cost effective, fast to deploy, easy to support.
Cons: May not suit the organization’s needs into the future, as requirements become more complex.
Scenario #2: Microsoft SharePoint
Microsoft SharePoint has tremendous adoption within large enterprises. Those enterprises use SharePoint for their document repository and intranet.
Characteristics: Large scale document management and collaboration needs, with a budget to match.
An organization uses SharePoint 2010 to manage its repository of 10,000+ documents, files, presentations and videos.
Via SharePoint, employees collaborate on Office documents and share
those documents with people outside of the organization. In addition to
managing documents, SharePoint powers the intranet site.
Pros: Strong centralized support provided by the IT team.
Cons: Not well-suited for distributed governance:
each department needs to submit update requests to IT, even for the
simplest of intranet site updates.
Scenario #3: Web CMS Software
To support a distributed governance model, many organizations use a Web CMS for their intranet.
Characteristics: Strong need for distributed intranet governance, with software licensing/subscription cost a driving factor.
A pharmaceutical firm is spending $35,000 per month on their SharePoint 2010 document repository, which also serves as their intranet software.
A third party integrator helps manage their SharePoint installation.
The intranet governance model is centralized: to update an intranet
page, business users submit a request to the integrator. Updating an
intranet SharePoint module costs $25,000.
The firm’s CIO decides to migrate from SharePoint to Web CMS
software, both to save money and to empower business users to manage
their sections of the intranet.
Pros: Cost savings (relative to SharePoint) and the ability to support distributed intranet governance.
Cons: Higher cost and longer deployment times relative to solutions like Google Sites.
Scenario #4: Collaboration Platform
Also known as enterprise social software and enterprise social
networks (ESN), collaboration platforms focus on peer-to-peer
interaction over content management.
Characteristics: Strong desire for peer-to-peer collaboration across a globally distributed organization.
A financial services company has 25,000 employees, with 25 offices throughout the globe.
Their intranet is powered by Jive-n, which enables employees to consume company news, find subject matter experts and collaborate in real-time.
The site centers around an activity feed, and there are badges, privileges and a leaderboard to drive employee engagement.
Pros: Works particularly well for large and
distributed organizations. The collaboration platform helps connect and
engage employees for deeper collaboration and higher productivity.
Cons: Higher cost relative to Web CMS software. Less
flexibility (compared to Web CMS systems) over the presentation and
management of content.
Note: There’s also a hybrid solution: a Web CMS that includes collaboration features, such as discussions, ideation, points,
privileges and a gaming mechanics engine. Read a case study on how
Mars Petcare used such a system (from DNN) for their sales extranet.
2016: Do Your Research
When I was an IT manager several years ago, technology purchases were
simpler. There was a fixed set of solutions and vendors. You read
reviews and evaluations, brought some solutions in-house to test, then
made a decision.
Because the intranet of 2016 takes so many shapes and forms, you must first get a firm grasp of the solutions landscape.
For instance, solutions like Confluence and Slack are getting a lot of buzz. So has Facebook at Work, which saw substantial results when deployed at Royal Bank of Scotland.
IT purchasing decisions can’t be made on the basis of buzz.
It’s important to first understand the requirements of your business.
Once those requirements are documented, find an initial set of vendors
that can deliver on your business objectives. Whether it’s Google Sites
or Jive, a Web CMS or Slack, select the solution that gives you the
highest chance of success.
Best Intranets of 2016
On a related note, congrats to the winners of Nielsen Norman Group’s 10 Best Intranets of 2016.
To quote Nielsen Norman Group’s summary of this year’s 10 best,
"Companies recognize the importance of a good, usable intranet. As a
result, a higher percentage relative to the company size is involved in
the intranet team."
On-Demand Intranet Webinar
Whether you’re part of a team with a new intranet project or the business owner of a stale and stagnant intranet, this webinar is for you.
Title: Achieve Intranet Success by Avoiding These Common Mistakes
Presenter: Sam Marshall
Register to view the on-demand replay now.
Comment from a webinar viewer:
"Great presentation! This should help me in launching my new intranet and avoiding common pitfalls. Thank you Sam!"
Note: This post was originally published at LinkedIn.