Even with 2.0 Tools, Companies May Need to Prime Intranet Pump


When I wrote about the winners of Nielsen Norman Group's Ten Best Designed Intranets competition back in February, I noted that Web 2.0 features were popular among the honorees. And I made the point that intranets seem like a great starting-off point for these kinds of technologies.

After all, one of the big promises of Web 2.0 is helping employees communicate and collaborate. While this is the ostensible purpose of intranets, many of them have failed miserably. In a post from December, I cited a survey that found 54 percent of employees did not use intranets to help perform their work tasks.

So just add a wiki to your intranet and you're good to go, right? Not so fast.

I recently saw a CIO.com item that makes a great point about user adoption. While 2.0 tools will make it easier to disseminate content, they won't create the content for you. Until users become accustomed to the new tools and modify their entrenched communications patterns, a lot of content will still end up mired in e-mail.

Here are some ideas from CIO.com, culled from the three case studies (links included) highlighting companies that took different approaches to adding Web 2.0 features to their intranets:

  • Ask users what kind of content they would like to have included on an intranet, and incorporate their suggestions.
  • Enlist "super users" in different departments to encourage their colleagues to use 2.0 tools.
  • Make the intranet the default site on employees' browsers.
  • Populate wikis and other tools with content frequently swapped via e-mail, such as meeting notes.
  • For tools that require users to tag content, encourage users to use common, human terms rather than corporate jargon.
  • Establish a logical taxonomy to make it easier for users to find older content.
  • Address any security and compliance issues up-front.
  • Consider using an RSS feed to automatically provide users with content they may find interesting and want to share. You can also use RSS to send users invites to comment on a blog or wiki.
  • Consider starting with an enthusiastic "test group" that can work out any bugs and then evangelize the new tools to the rest of the organization.