Intranets, with a Google Spin

Ann All

Yesterday we blogged about companies that are adding Web 2.0 technologies to their intranets in an effort to make them more useful and user-friendly -- and one company that has abandoned its intranet entirely for Facebook.


One of the key complaints about intranets is that they lack adequate search functionality, making it difficult for users to find the information they need. So we were intrigued to see an InformationWeek blog that links to a Google Blogoscoped entry containing screenshots that purportedly came from Google's intranet.


The string of comments following the InformationWeek blog largely focus on concerns about posting the pics without Google's permission and/or whether the photos are legitimate. But putting aside those concerns and assuming the pics are real, they hint at the kind of usability and search functionality that seems just out of reach for most companies today.


The intranet allows users to filter their results, indicating whether they want to see only secure content, for example. It also offers users the option of creating a personalized start page that displays news and widgets of individual interest -- similar to the iGoogle tool that allows consumers to do the same thing on their Web browser.


The intranet utilizes the universal search capability that Google rolled out earlier this year, which integrates results from several different sources into a single interface. Google's Search Appliance powers this service, according to a Google blog.


The intranet also functions as a kind of super sandbox, as it is used to serve up the newest versions of Google applications that are in development, giving developers and other employees a chance to trial them.


While this seems like the kind of functionality that many companies would like to offer on their intranets, we wonder if some companies might resist this type of ultra-transparency. As an ex-Googler cited in the Google Blogoscoped entry says, even the search giant more recently has "clamped down on who had access (to) the complete state of the business."

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