Business & Value, Strategy & Decision-making

Platform, an actionable metaphor for the intranet

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in September 2010 ……


“Intranet as a platform” can be an effective metaphor when communicating the purpose of the intranet to senior management.

A number of participants in the Global Intranet Strategies survey this year used the term “platform” when responding to the question “How have you achieved or increased the awareness and involvement of senior management in the intranet?”

From communication platform…

  • “We achieved greater interest by positioning it as the key communications platform to deliver strategic and business messages.”
  • “They are driving their messages onto the platform.”

…to business platform

  • “They’re now starting to see the benefits and potential of the intranet as a platform on which we can base all future internal web tools.”
  • When the intranet became our production platform for collaboration senior management were naturally involved.

Many organizations still struggle with getting their senior management (thus budget-holders) active and united  behind the intranet. Intranet teams spend time thinking about how to position the intranet, what to put in their executive presentations, how to formulate the value of the intranet.

Platform is a word I do not often see in senior management presentations. Yet, it is a word that offers a simpler, more basic way to communicate what the intranet does.

It is a flexible metaphor, interpreted differently by different people. Yet, all the interpretations are meaningful. It communicates the idea of “enabling” and can be translated into business benefits.

A  platform that enables…

Different interpretations, all valid

“Platform” has the advantage of meaning different things to different people. The term can be used with everyone, regardless of their background and knowledge. It is not limited to the realm of technology.

  • Some may understand “platform” from a computing viewpoint: “a framework on which we can run applications”.
  • Others may visualize “platform” in a building sense: “a construction providing stability upon which the walls and roof are built”.
  • We can even go a little philosophical and think of “platform” as  the aims and principles of an organization or association.

Flexible, indispensable

The same platform enables different people to do different things. You build on a platform. You jump off a platform. You give a speech from a platform.

However, if the platform collapses, everything collapses. A platform is indispensable.

Over the 5 years I have conducted the Global Intranet Strategies survey, every year there are participants who describe how their senior management woke up when the intranet went down.

The commentary from this year’s survey is no exception:

  • “Awareness of senior management of the intranet is more sub-conscious than pro-active. Often, they are not aware of what intranet is. They miss it when it’s not there.”
  • The most effective way (we increased awareness) was when the portal went down for a couple of weeks.
  • When the Intranet goes down, no one can do their job.  That tends to bring some visibility to a situation!”

“Platform” is a metaphor that can be easily translated into business benefits.

It enables the enterprise to …. It enables people to ….