Intranet addiction – a vicious circle

August 21, 2006

During a couple of intranet audits this year, I came across situations where some users said they could not work properly if the intranet went down for even one hour, and in the same company others said they would not be bothered until the downtime reached at least several days or a week.

Below the poverty line

The difference? The first ones were based in countries where intranet conditions were “below the poverty line” that is to say places where intranet access conditions and intranet resources were very bad.  The other users were based either at head-quarters or in the HQ or other country where intranet access was fast and reliable.

People in the second case had become used to using the intranet as their reference point – first place to check in the morning, first place to look for documents, etc. People in the first case actually expressed relief to me that they did not depend on the intranet.

“It’s a good thing I don’t really need it because it’s very slow and when I am on it, it takes a long time to find what I want.” We all know that the more we use a web site or intranet site, the faster it is to find information. We get used to and work around any navigation or ergonomic issues, and, soon don’t even notice them.

Lesson to be learned? The “poverty line” is a combination of unfavorable technical environments (low bandwidth, slow machines), difficulties with content (language, questionable relevance, etc.) and low level of local human support (training, user help, etc.). People in business units working under these conditions will obviously not consider the intranet a business critical tool – they’re usually very good at finding ways to “work around the intranet”.

The parallel intranet

One person I interviewed describe their parallel intranet – the place on the local network where they stored the important documents they found on the intranet. Why? To save time the next time they needed to use that document!

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Comments

Denny

Your post is the first I have seen about intranet addiction. Question: Who could have seen this coming? Answer: Since the intranet is a form of “going online,” I imagine that the correct answer would be: everybody :-)
DenMan7
http://www.alcoholics-info.com

Pranshu Jain

What a coincidence, I just summarized this for internet applications at my blog here
http://pranshujain.wordpress.com/2006/09/06/optimizing-for-low-bandwidth-or-my-site-is-slow-in-eastern-hemisphere/
. Almost all comments are valid for intranet as well. Its not all lost for low bandwidth locations, it requires extra hard work (and a little more investment)!

Vince

What about the performance with or without a “good” intranet that’s the question ;-)