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

Ann All

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.

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Oct 19, 2008 2:52 PM How to make intranets work How to make intranets work  says:
another great way to encourage intranet use is to make it part of the company's processes- make it the repository of company documents- make it the platform for document collaboration- make it the repository of company contacts- ban all chat tools but the one embedded in the intranet- hold employee satisfaction and grievance surveys within the intranet pankajhttp://www.hyperoffice.com Reply
Oct 23, 2008 12:57 PM DorjeM DorjeM  says:
Rich,You're very much on the right track. Taking a proscriptive approach as "ban all chat tools except the one on the intranet" or "set the intranet as the default page in staff browsers" just doesn't work.Focusing on the business and providing business value is the only way in which intranets (1.0 2.0 or otherwise) begin to become valued by the organisation.http://www.steptwo.com.au have some great material - they give away for free on how to make your intranet as good as it can be.The trick is to begin the journey, for most that begins with static content and then progresses to more and more dynamic material that is closer and closer aligned to the organisations goals.You are the intranet specialist in your organisation, if you ask staff what they want they'll all want 'google' and 'facebook'. Spend time doing needs analysis with your users, where you learn how they do their job, the tools they use and how they use them.Do this with the staff the organisation perceives as most valuable, spend an hour with 5 of them and out of those discussions about how they do their jobs you'll find 8 or 10 things that could be done better using the intranet as a medium.Pick the one that you can achieve, is highest profile and gives the best value to the business.I guarantee you won't ever have to go cap in hand for support again. As they say 'the proof will be in the pudding'Good luck Reply
Oct 23, 2008 4:29 PM Rich Rich  says:
I'm just building ours now and I'm thinking that the problem might be a little deeper than the "solutions" made above.The way I see it most communication problems in a company exist between business functions, not within them, therefore replicating the existing departments is not really helping any..I'm thinking that the one common core threading through each department are your business processes, it's where they enter and exit each department that you get the communication breakdowns....So surely we're better off designing intranets around business processes rather than departments... Am I right? Anyone with any business process engineering experience actually done this? Is the fundamental reason for Intranet failure that they generally use requirements driven by Marketing and therefore inherently have no substance???? Reply
Oct 24, 2008 9:17 AM Toby Ward Toby Ward  says:
Thanks for the article Ann. While intranet usage by employees in Ireland may be that low, it is a little higher in North America and in many other places too. Although, most intranets are in fact very poor indeed. I've written a number of articles on Intranet 2.0 that might be of interest and am in the midst of a major study on the subject:The power of intranet 2.0http://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2008/7/8/3783458.htmlIntranet 2.0: a must havehttp://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2008/5/29/3720087.htmlIntranet 2.0 surveyhttp://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2008/10/9/3923844.html Reply

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