Tags: benefit, best practice, bt intranet, career path, digital workplace, intranet, Mark Morrell, value
I read with interest the blog posts by Tony Byrne ‘Death of the Intranet‘ and by Martin White ‘Death of the Intranet: ‘The Times They are a-changin’‘. They are both interesting posts with provocative titles to catch the attention. It has caused some great discussions about intranets which is great. The biggest and most negative reaction I found has been from intranet practitioners who feel it is an over reaction and not how they see things.
Having recently been an intranet practitioner as the BT Intranet manager before becoming a consultant, I can see the subject from both points of view. I believe intranets are still live and kicking To adapt the famous quotation by Mark Twain after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal “The reports of the death of the intranet are greatly exaggerated” in my opinion.
I believe intranets are naturally evolving and maturing. Over the past 15 years intranets have been called many different names. Intranets have needed to adapt to changes in technology, different business requirements and climates. But they are still here and thriving. The digital workplace is a wider environment that intranets will be a vital component of. Yet another evolution for intranets to absorb and adapt to.
Wikipedia says ‘Increasingly, intranets are being used to deliver tools and applications, e.g., collaboration (to facilitate working in groups and teleconferencing) or sophisticated corporate directories, sales and customer relationship management tools, project management etc., to advance productivity. Intranets are also being used as corporate culture-change platforms. For example, large numbers of employees discussing key issues in an intranet forum application could lead to new ideas in management, productivity, quality, and other corporate issues.’ I agree with that from my experience of how intranets generally are being used.
Different tools to access intranets like mobiles won’t end the intranet. It’s just another opportunity to show how adaptable intranet can be in providing the information people need while on the move from their smartphones. Intranets are still the bloodstream for information and applications, properly managed and accessible any time, any place, any where and more and more using any device, that employees need to do their work each day.
I am writing a report about how the passion showed by intranet practitioners about their organisation’s intranet that they manage can help accelerate improvements. I believe it is the personality as well as the abilities of an intranet manager that can help achieve more. Intranet practitioners know better now than ever before how to feel the pulse of their intranet and organisation it supports.
I recall in my previous role how I would champion again and again something I believed passionately about would improve BT by its adoption sometimes against sceptical line management as well as partners like IT and some stakeholders. Of course, judgement is critical as your reputation will suffer if you keep getting it wrong. My point is that passionate intranet role models are being created which other intranet practitioners can benefit from and will continue to help intranets improve in the years ahead, not die.
The development of the digital workplace will be seen not as a threat but more as an opportunity for two reasons:
- The intranet will fit well within the digital workplace and grow in influence on the back of it as more senior stakeholders see how the organisation will benefit from adoption.
- The digital workplace role will be another step an intranet practitioner can consider when looking for their next career move (more on this in a later post).
Intranet managers don’t feel intranets are dying – quite the opposite in fact. They believe intranets are moving into a more critical role for the organisations they support. More and more they are seen as providing a business critical role. This is a long way from just being another communications channels. While I see intranets that are struggling to show value and be taken seriously by their senior stakeholders, there are many intranets growing in value and championed by practitioners who have learnt how to seek support and sponsorship and can talk the language of the business not just the technology.
I believe senior stakeholders, as with intranets, have matured in the last few years. They understand better how intranets have added value, shown benefits in the wider sense and don’t think in straitjacket terms of just ‘return on investment’ so loved by Finance for business case submissions.
For me intranets are a living organism at the heart of organisations, managed by passionate people and increasingly championed by senior stakeholders who ‘get it’ about intranets and can see how they will continue in the wider digital workplace that is unfolding now.
Tags: homepage, intranet
You have the chance to design what you believe is a useful hompage with the added incentive of winning a Kindle. Surely this is one of the easier decisions for intranet professionals to make!
When I look back at the BT Intranet homepage versions over the years I was there and the many other homepages I have seen that other organisations use, I wish I could have done this when I started to think about improvements.
While it is functionality that brings people back to a homepage again and again a design that is pleasing to the eye and helps bring to bring branding, content and layout together is the best combination for a useful homepage.
So, don’t delay, design it today!
Tags: best practice, bt intranet, help, training, users
What help do you give to anyone new to your intranet? How do they get to know what words used such as ’homepage’ mean?
In BT we have online guidance and training for new users. This includes a glossary of the most used terms which you may find helpful to use:
Address: Another name for a location or URL.
Bookmark/Favourite: A way for you to mark a web page you want to return to later, in the same way you would put a bookmark in a book. This is called Favourite in Internet Explorer or Bookmark in Firefox.
Browser: Software that allows you to look at Intranet/Internet pages.
Cache: To store on your computer’s hard disk a copy of a web page accessed via the internet/intranet. The browser compares the cached copy of the page to the original, and if there have been no changes, it will use the cached copy rather than reloading the page again, saving on download time.
Cookie: A unique string of letters and numbers that the web server stores in a file on your computer. This method is used to track users so that they do not have to enter the same information when they revisit a site.
Firewall: Computer hardware and/or software that limits access to a computer over a network or from an outside source. Used to prevent hackers from getting into company’s intranets.
Homepage: This is your start up page. The page that first appears when you open your browser.
Hyperlink: A connection that is found in web pages that, when clicked with a mouse, opens a web page in your browser. A hyperlink (or link) may be a word, icon or graphic.
Internet: The internet is a worldwide network of computers containing information that people can access and read or use on their own computers. This network is sometimes called the Information Super Highway or ‘web’.
Intranet: An intranet is a private network belonging to an organisation accessible only by the organisation’s members, employees, or others with authorisation. An intranet’s web sites look and act just like any other web sites, but the intranet is set up using what is called a firewall, which prevents unauthorised access from outsiders.
Location: Another name for an address, also known as URL.
Search engine: A programme that allows you to search and retrieve specific information from the internet/intranet. Generally, you type in the words that you need to find and the search engine produces a list of pages that contain those words. You can then click on any of the displayed pages to go to that page.
URL: This is a Universal Resource Location, the correct name for the location that you type into the location area. Also known as Address.
I would be interested in what help you give new intranet users. Please leave a comment for others to share and learn from.
Tags: best practice, bt intranet, help, homepage, search, standards, usability, users
In my last post ‘Great intranets help make efficient people’ I talked briefly about the BT A-Z. BT Intranet users find this a very useful service helping them to quickly find a site.
People who use the BT A-Z have a reasonable idea they know the site exists and what its name could be. Cross-referencing of sites helps people to find it under more than one letter.
I’ve shown what the BT A-Z is in these examples.
The BT Homepage sets out the BT A-Z in one horizontal line with plenty of space between each letter to save users one click if there was just a BT A-Z heading and be able to easily get the letter they need (slide 1).
For each link in the BT A-Z, there is a heading followed by a simple explanation of what it points to so people know before they click on it if it is likely to be what they are looking for (slide 2).
On the left hand side of every page of the BT A-Z are icons which help to show to users what to expect when they click on the link (slides 2-4).
As well as giving people a full list of sites, if you know it is just information or a service you need for that letter you can choose that option from right hand menu to reduce what you need to check (slides 3 and 4).
If you have mobile/PDA access, you can still use the BT A-Z and see a list of sites to click on with (most important!) a mobile icon against those which will support that type of access (slide 5).