Many companies are still struggling to determine when and where it makes sense to employ Web 2.0 technologies at work. Yet at least one application -- the company intranet -- appears to be a fairly obvious candidate to me.
While intranets have promised to help employees communicate and collaborate, they have largely failed to deliver, as I pointed out in a recent blog. And improved communication and collaboration are two of the primary selling points of many Web 2.0 technologies.
So it's not surprising that the winners of Nielsen Norman Group's (NNG's) annual Ten Best Designed Intranets competition make liberal use of such Web 2.0 features as advanced personalization. For instance, according to internetnews.com, sales folks logging in to Coldwell Banker's intranet see individual sales targets, their current progress and leads that are being tracked.
Products with a Web 2.0 twist were popular with award winners, including Microsoft's SharePoint, the Google Search Appliance and Red Hat Linux.
Basics are important, too -- and can be a challenge even for award winners. NNG lauds one winner, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries in Australia, for its clear and usable design. "They just did a very good job with colors and borders. You can tell what's a link and what to click on to go somewhere," NNG's director of research tells internetnews.com.
Later in the article, she notes that several of the winning intranets have links that don't lead anywhere, but instead "drop a user off a cliff."
The intranet also seems like a logical place to use multimedia content and other features more commonly found on the Internet. "SAP TV" is a collection of videos on the homepage of SAP's intranet. Says NNG's research director:
If you have YouTube on your Dell desktop at home, you start to wonder why you can't see video of the big company event at another office or the politician meeting the CEO.