x-Early Perspectives

7 concerns in 2008

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in June 2008 ……


114 organisations (out of approximately 150 already signed up for the 3rd annual Global Intranet Strategies Survey) participated in a 5-minute Quick Poll. They gave feedback on which topics are the most relevant for them and suggested areas to focus on.

My observations on their feedback:

1. We are getting back to intranet basics – that is to say (a) users finding what what need and (b) raising intranet awareness in general.

The chart below shows the top 10 topics. You’ll see that “search & findability” leads all other issues. It’s followed by roles and perceptions of the intranet and obstacles holding the intranet back.

These fundamental issues risked getting lost in all the excitement about social media behind the firewall. It is reassuring to see that intranet managers have their feet firmly on the ground!

2. User adoption is rising on the radar.

Do you remember that “usability and user-centered design” was the number 1 planned investment in the 2007 survey data? Not surprisingly, we see that “user adoption” becomes the 3rd hottest topic in 2008 if we combine “highly relevant” and “moderately relevant”. (chart above)

3.  “Governance” is getting real: people + ownership + content + quality

Intranet managers are rightfully focusing energy on publishing models, ownership and quality;  engaging and motivating part-time content providers; and on how to get people to work together.

Comments from the Quick Poll participants:

“Related to governance, I’d be interested to learn about what kind of intranet publishing models (distributed, hybrid, centralized, other) other organizations employ as well as how they maintain the quality and consistency of the intranet (content audits, standards, etc.).”

“How do we ensure that all content has an owner and how do we engage those content owners to keep their content up to date. This is certainly an issue with us.”

“A key pressure for me is getting business buy in, funding and ensuring people aren’t working on their own “thing” in silos thus undermining efforts the Intranet team make.”

“I would like to learn whether large organizations have in place programs or mechanisms by which to improve the overall quality of their intranet. Distributed authorship has taken off with content management systems – what are organizations doing to equip these ‘part time webmasters’ with the skills they need to create effective online communications? Who has editorial oversight for the whole intranet? Does this person or group have the authority needed to enforce standards? Do organizations even have standards? If yes, what format do they take, and what sort of success have organizations seen with their standards programs?”

4. “Intranet manager” is beginning to be perceived as a profession.

Both the 2006 and 2007 survey data showed that intranet managers in many organisations feel there is a low perception of the value of their role. The 2008 survey will attempt to provide a partial answer to what profile and skills are required to do the intranet manager job well.

“What are the top skills required, what are the barriers to entering/leaving the industry, what type of people are best suited to being intranet managers.”

5. The value of customisation and personalisability is still being questioned.

The 2006 and 2007 survey data indicated that both customisation and personalisability are increasing. In addition, 2007 showed that organisations in Stages 2 and 3 had higher degrees of role-based customisation and personalisability in their intranets.  Yet…how far should you go?

“We also wonder about the degree one should customize the intranet. How many roles are good to handle and make sense. Does it work to let the author decide who is the target group of his information? Or should their be represantatives of the target group who decide? And after all, how much personalization makes sense? You often read, that most employees don’t personalize their homepage. Is it worth the effort for the intranet team?”

6. Social media concerns are primarily on behaviour, not tools.

The buzz is decreasing and now intranet managers are looking at how organisations are managing their social media  implementations. For example, how do you encourage user adoption? How do you manage in highly regulated environments?

“On one hand people are requesting Web 2.0 features – and on the other hand it is very difficult to get people away from e-mail and shared drives.”

“Regarding social networking, what is the general attitude of organisations to the use of social networking by employees on company time. My company blocks all social networking sites and I am interested to know if employees who are allowed to access these sites abuse the privilege.”

“You’ve indicated that you might focus on employee directories / profile pages / org charts — please do, this is highly relevant and is a killer app that is often poorly done. With the new social media aspects to this — seeing who is a colleague of your colleagues — it’s a timely subject for a lot of focus.”

7. Defining priorities and keeping up the momentum is a major challenge.

Where are people spending energy and money? And how do they change the mind set from “an intranet project” to “a dynamic work tool”?

“Given that so many things regarding the intranet are important, where will companies focus their limited time and money?

“Breaking down projects is always an issue. It’s easy to create a strategy, to develop requirements, to prioritize and to implement a first step – but what happens then? How do you create and maintain awareness of the big intranet picture in order to avoid repeating questions like “Are we there yet?”, “We did already sponsor a project last year, why do you again need some money?”, “Is it still not finished?” -> the image of intranets needs to be transformed from a static one-time-project (been there, done that) to a growing, living and permanently changing tool for daily work.”