Are some organizations “losing it” when it comes to their intranets?
James Robertson describes a simple, practical 3-step maturity model for intranets in his post Introducing the Essential Intranet. This is vintage James, with a vision that is fundamentally positive and encouraging.
Yet I beg to differ. I would love to think that companies move from Step 1 to gradually reach 3, even if it takes years. What bothers me is that I don’t think this happens for a fair number of organizations.
The intranet divide?
I’m looking forward to James’ closing keynote at Intranets2011 in Sydney where he’ll be talking about what makes intranets essential and how to get from 1 to 3. I’ll be giving the opening keynote, and at one point during the first day we’ll be sharing the stage for what is billed as “The Big Debate“. This may be an opportunity to debate my concern: why are some organizations falling far behind while others are leading the way? What makes the difference?
Steps 2 and 3 as James describes them are similar to Stages 2 and 3 in the model I introduced a few years ago but it’s Stage 1 that is the problem. James’ descriptions:
I quote from Introducing the Essential Intranet:
- New intranets. At the outset, new intranets are focused on growth. Starting small, organisations start to understand what an intranet can do for them, and what information needs to be captured and communicated.
- Useful intranets. Intranets easily grow to thousands or ten of thousands of pages in size. They provide useful information for all staff, from policies and procedures to updates and news. The primary focus is typically on content and communication, with links provided to other enterprise applications.
- Essential intranets. Essential intranets underpin the day-to-day work of staff. They are also closely aligned to business priorities, and are designed to directly support service delivery and key business processes. These are business tools, and “how things are done”.
Steps/Stage 2 and 3 sync: Global Intranet Trends for 2010….
Stage 2 – the ambitious period – becoming the way of working
- Business and employee life applications are becoming available through the intranet. Customization based on roles or activities has started.
- The role of intranet management is becoming clearer. It is evolving from publishing to providing services for business and functional managers.
- Senior management is beginning to get interested. The entry page (or pages) are becoming more visible and in many organizations, management is beginning to argue about what should be on the entry page and who should control it.
Stage 3 – the mature period – the way of working
- A Stage 3 intranet has a high degree of purpose. It provides access to many if not most of the business and employee life applications in the organization.
- Content management systems are in place and decentralized publishing is usually implemented.
- The intranet management role is evolving towards one of a “business partner” for key stakeholders. In some organizations, the role may have evolved to facilitating collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Many intranets are stuck in Stage 1
Stage 1 in my model is what I call “the early period – disconnected from the way of working”
Quoting again from Global Intranet Trends for 2010:
- There are few core business or employee life applications integrated into the Stage 1 intranet. It is not yet the entry point into the organization’s information and applications.
- The intranet has out-of-date information, has no clear purpose and management does not consider it to be important for the organization. It is more of a “nice-to-have”.
- The intranet management role is not clearly defined and may not even exist formally. The person “in charge of” the intranet is often the main or only content publisher. This is usually an add-on role to be done when the person has time.
It is not a question of age. Previous global intranet surveys show that the older the intranet, that’s to say the longer it has been since the last revamp, the more likely it will be in Stage 1.
Looking at the data for 2010, we see that the percentage of Stage 1 intranets have increased while Stage 3 have decreased over the past couple of years. Is this because the number of participating organizations in the survey is increasing, and now becoming more representative of the “real world”?
Is senior management to blame?
I believe it comes down primarily to senior management awareness, which then enables defining a strategy and having the resources to implement it. Today, people are becoming aware that digital-enablement is important, not just externally but also internally. So, what worries me is why so many organizations are still in Stage 1. Any ideas?