Intranets have come a long way since they were first created. Starting as static informational pages and merging into self-service and enterprise information portals, to the consolidated enterprise workspace platform that is known today. When developed and deployed correctly, companies can use intranets to their full advantage – creating a collaborative and social intranet environment for employees to share and manage knowledge and ideas with governance.
The big question on everyone’s mind today is, ‘what should I expect my intranet to do now that it is 2011 and the technology has vastly improved?’ Settling for a sub-par intranet, even if it is cheap, will not necessarily give you the results you are looking for. Intranets are designed to provide your organization with an array of services to increase collaboration, productivity, and efficiency.
Social tools and applications will allow organizations to better connect with employees and allow employees to better connect with each other. Such tools will also make it easier to recognize and acknowledge employee achievements. Also, organizations can now have a dynamic workplace equipped with the business oriented work tool and on-the-go access with mobile devices. This provides a flexible platform that will allow organizations to channel their overall goals and objectives. Intranets should also act as a self-service platform that is focused on delivering tools, applications, and information that is easily accessible to various departments and allows for collaboration. Companies can also easily manage enterprise content that is user generated using taxonomy in a digital environment.
The hope is that with intranets progressing the way they are, that formal infrastructures will integrate daily tasks and informal structures with workforce enhancements and enterprise 2.0 technologies. This will help formulate organizations that collaborate, organize, manage knowledge, foster ideas, learn, participate, innovate and work seamlessly together. This brings us to the trends and features to watch for in 2011. Intranets now provided more enhanced features for employees. Users can easily create profiles highlighting areas of interest, awards, expertise, etc. Users can also manage tasks more efficiently on a single interface that is faster and allows for greater productivity, this can also be customized to suit their needs.
Users can also easily collaborate with others using wiki’s, blogs, forums, and RSS feeds just to name a few. The possibilities are really endless and having a great SharePoint intranet design will garner more participation.
Then there is the actual technology aspect of the intranet. Thanks to new technology and devices, organizations can now easily access documents and information, or upload data for others to access, 24/7 with mobile devices such as the i Pad, iPhone, and Blackberry just to name a few. The user experience has also been greatly improved with streaming audio and video. With digital dashboards, integrating capabilities from legacy systems, reporting systems, databases, etc. are accessible through a single interface.
Organizations now have an armament of tools to help meet business objectives and goals faster and more efficiently with more focused policies and procedures. Companies can now align employees to the company culture and objectives with greater emphasis on understanding and sustained development. Other improved features for content management include taxonomy based on user generated content, internationalization to improve content relevance based on language selection, translation management, and better search features.
Intranets in 2011 should be equipped with these top five features: enterprise search, mobility, social, task-oriented, and usability. These should seamlessly integrate with ageless key features and intranet functions including team sites, project portals, knowledge and community-based wiki’s, content publishing, my sites, social networking, help and support tools, and manager tools. These and many other timeless intranet features allow for organizations to carry out the best practices, maintain good governance, and allow for collaboration.
All of these features are great, but knowing how to use Intranets to their full advantage is key. The information architecture plays a big role in the user acceptance of the intranet within the organization. The architecture must provide a consistent experience to all users at all times. Common categories also should be established so they can be easily and quickly accessed – HR, Company News, etc. Future company and cultural changes should also be taken into consideration as well as potential growth to include social networking, content management, collaboration, and governance policies. Intranets also need to be mobile so that users can access information on-the-go 24/7. With this, mobile technology also needs to be taken into account. Establishing support features geared toward mobile users is also critical. Otherwise mobile access will not be able to reach its full potential.
Intranets should also equip organizations with social business tools that assess and identify the social networking maturity of the organization. As different organizations have different needs and maturity levels, finding the balance of requirement and employee access is critical. A couple of things that have enhanced social networking are social profiling and tagging – they enable users to identify attributes that will help in improving their social visibility and network across the organization. Also providing for social taxonomy allow people with similar interests, problems, and expertise to find each other. Social tools also help in enhancing idea and talent management.