Intranets 2011 – What to expect? The Continual Growth of Social Tools
Intranets 2011 will usher in the era where Social tools and applications take prominence and provide organizations with an opportunity to connect better with their employees.
The social profile of users will begin to serve as resource hub – not only can employees connect with other employees but disseminate information about themselves, their areas of interests and achievements which will allow for greater employee recognition and understanding.
Employee generated content is taking prominence and with abilities like user tagging, social profiling, “people” based content information and search has been enhanced.
Social tools will also greatly benefit the entire organization in terms of retaining enterprise talent due to the open nature of the tools which help the HR to identify expertise and find people with niche skill sets based on their contribution and participation in a socially collaborative intranet environment.
“Enterprise 2.0 technologies have the potential to let an intranet become what the internet already is: an online platform with a constantly changing structure built by distributed, autonomous and largely self-interested peers. On this platform, authoring creates content; links and tags knit it together; and search, extensions, tags and signals make emergent structures and patterns in the content visible, and help people stay on top of it all. Enterprise 2.0 technologies are subject to network effects; as more people engage in authoring, linking and tagging, emergent structure becomes increasingly fine-grained.”- Andrew P. McAfee in Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration (MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2009)
Intranets 2011 – What to expect? Dynamic Work Place
The intranet is evolving continually and is viewed from a perspective of the consolidated work place – the business oriented work tool.
Access and work from any place – the era of Mobile Communication is well and truly here. With Mobile devices like the iPad, Blackberry and the iPhone, users have been accorded greater flexibility in accessing their information irrespective of their locations.
Intranets as consolidated workplaces provide employees and business users with information in context of their everyday work – helping them execute work faster and reduce the overheads and efforts involved due to redundant information and data gathering activities.
Intranets as Dynamic workplaces provide organizations with a flexible platform that will allow them to channel the overall goals and objectives to the entire organization and track to the set goals and objectives in the right manner – helping them keep ahead of the competition.
Intranets 2011 – What to expect? Intranets as a Self Service Platform
Intranets will focus on delivering tools and applications that are self service in nature – allowing employees to get access to all information and execute everyday tasks without the need to wait on anything else
The self service tools of the intranets will be available at various levels – at the enterprise level, departmental level, project / team level and peer to peer level, greatly improving the productivity of the employees across the various functions of the organization as a whole.
Deliver HR, Finance and Facilities related services such as taxation information, benefit forms, expense reporting etc for users to access content from a central repository in a secure manner.
Personal management tools helps streamline process online, reduce employee overheads and align towards a more paperless organization.
Intranets 2011 – What to expect? The Collaboration Network
Intranets 2011 will focus beyond team, project and departmental level collaboration and facilitate intra departmental / business function collaboration making it easy to streamline majority of the critical collaboration processes within organization.
Social tools bring in the concept of social collaboration – which simplifies the contribution, sharing and dissemination of content, information and documents, making it possible to review and approve in a faster manner.
Identify and address specific needs and initiatives around projects, departments and collaboration teams.
Establish the best practices of communities across the organization where employees can utilize a single interface to communicate, collaborate, foster ideas and share knowledge.
Social and community tools enable employees with self service content contribution capabilities, increasing the volume of content on the intranet, making search an important part of the enterprise intranet
Intranets are focused on providing context based search that allows users to look beyond just documents and content, but also obtain information based on people search, expertise and social tagging.
Intranets 2011 – What to expect? Enterprise Content Management
Intranets 2011 will give prominence to user generated content and will include tools that bring in the concepts of Web 2.0 to allow users to quickly contribute and share content.
Content organization and structuring will move beyond folders hierarchies and will be managed with a combination of enterprise taxonomy for formal structuring and folksonomies using free flow, user specific tags for organizing the content and information based on the user’s preferences.
Personalization will be one of the key feature that needs to be integrated within the Intranets 2011. With personalization, employees and business users can have a “dedicated” personal space on the intranet where they can collect, track and manage information and data relevant to them from across the intranet.
Intranets 2011 will see enterprise content being consistently delivered through various types of interfaces like smart phones and other mobile business devices.
The Digital Environment
Organizations will look beyond documents and presentations and utilize rich media like videos, flash embeds and audio files among others which are interactive and are delivered through interfaces that stream these files or social and community mechanisms like wikis and blogs among others.
Help employees access real time information and enhance business intelligence outputs through a single dashboard. Reduce turn around times in key decision making requirements.
Intranets 2011 - Trends Employee Enhancement User Profiling - Help users create their profile with customized data to display areas of interest, awards and achievements, expertise etc. Profiles to become the basis of talent & resource management Task Oriented - Provide a single interface for employees to carry out their daily tasks and business functions with simplified digital interactions to increase employee efficiency. User Experience - Provide high quality and rich user experience so that employees have better interfaces, lesser page loading and refreshing times and application that execute faster Customizations - users can personalize and customize their profiles to suit their needs and requirements. Easier to develop networks and connections as other employees are able to identify social information more easily and accurately. Social Networking - Establish the platform for integrated knowledge sharing environment with enterprise 2.0 features. Foster ideas and thoughts with expert opinions, ratings, wikis, blogs, forums, RSS feeds amongst others to improve employee productivity.
Intranets 2011 - Trends Technology Mobile Intranets - The consolidated work place environment has given rise to the importance of providing instant access to employees who are on the move and require access to documents, information and even upload real time data for other employees to access. With devices like iPad, Blackberry and iPhone amongst other devices accessing information has never been easier. Applications Enablement- Providing better user experience has been simplified with tools like VoIP, video streaming, audio enhancements, RIA and Ajax etc which has become a norm more than a wish list. Digital Dashboards - with integration capabilities to various legacy systems and LOB’s like CRM, reporting systems, databases etc. employees can access everything through a single interface and at real time if need be.
Intranets 2011 - Trends Business Objectives Globally Local - Multi – location organizations are keen on localizing their content while maintaining a global approach. Organizations are keen on providing information that is more locally relevant to a particular location – such a weather updates, news update, traffic etc Business Tools - To view the Intranet from a perspective that will allow the organization to fulfill their purpose, objectives, achieve goals and keep tab on the KPI’s. An ability to connect and understand employee better with focus on skills, idea fostering and talent management . Governance- More focused governance polices procedures – an inherent shift from just control to more flexibility in publishing and rating with a decentralized structure from previous models. Uniform Community Culture - Align employees to the company culture and objectives with greater emphasis on understanding and sustained development
Intranets 2011 - Trends Content Management Taxonomy - Ability for organizations to maintain taxonomy based on user generated content, especially vital for those organizations that have international work force. Internationalization - Improve content relevance based on the language of choice – ability to view blocks based on the language in use. Translation Management - To over see the translation requirements of the different end users; simplified icons to help users identify the language of their choice, keep track of the content, translation requests and job queues. Search – Provide a framework that allows users to obtain relevant content with tagging, keywords and content types that simplifies search capabilities.
Why SharePoint 2010 for Intranet SharePoint 2010 features the latest Enterprise 2.0 capabilities can provide a high value intranet with Rich user experience and effective governance policies. The top features that drive intranets on SharePoint 2010 platform are –
Social Capabilities – SharePoint 2010 provides a host of social tools that are designed to help employees connect, discover, share and grow. Ex: My sites allows users to create profiles that help to connect with the organization.
Search – Enterprise search has been vastly improved with features like FAST Search, Faceted Search and thumbnails with increased scalability to millions of documents, different data sources and ability to infer metadata from content.
Document Management – SharePoint 2010 provides advanced document management capacity with features like document sets, templates, records managements etc.
Metadata – Taxonomy has been enhanced in SharePoint 2010 to meet classification and hierarchy needs of content with option to cater for user generated content.
Workflows – Meet complex business workflow requirements in SharePoint 2010. Additionally utilize features like Visio services to create workflow and display their current status.
Others – SharePoint 2010 also provides host of other prominent features like working offline, mobile support, themes, web standards, ribbon for easy add and edit etc.
Intranets 2011 – Best Practices Information Architecture
The Information Architecture plays a big role in the user acceptance of the intranet –design the architecture to provide a consistent user experience.
Establish the common categories and sections that users tend to use – HR, Company Information and News have been the most popular traditionally
Simplify the process of personalization and customizations - Quick links are an example of how users view the links they regularly visit
Factor in dynamic growth of user profiles and social tagging features to support search and visibility. With user profiles playing a central role in content relations and management, the architecture should be dynamic and self sustaining in nature
Consider future changes and scope of intranet growth from a social networking, content management, collaboration and as well as governance policies .
Intranets 2011 – Best Practices Mobile Intranets
Mobile access of intranets are more focused on meeting high priority requirements – such as documents management, collaboration needs etc
Provide features that take in to consideration of the device in use – small screens, input devices, download delays and design and compatibility of mobile sites.
Provide only business critical functions on mobile usage – full usage of intranets on mobile devices caused more hindrance then enhancement
Establish support features for mobile devices – maintenance of intranet should be expanded to mobile usage in addition to full intranet usage.
Intranets 2011 – Best Practices Social Business Tools
Asses and identify the social networking maturity of the organization – not all social networking features are required; strike the balance of requirement and access provided to employees.
Social tagging and profiling are important artifacts that have enhanced social networking features – provide for users to identify those attributes that will help in improving their social visibility and network across the organization
Provide for social taxonomy and folksonomies that will allow for people with similar interests, problems and identifying experts. “User rating” is of particular importance as it helps identify an user with an issue or line of expertise that other employees stand to gain from and boosts knowledge management.
Social Profiles should contribute towards HR functions and allow the HR department to identify those resources and experts who can add value to a particular requirement or fulfill requirements outside of their domain. Helps in enhancing talent management and idea management
Intranets 2011 – Best Practices User Experience
User experience forms a core requirement for acceptance of the intranet – keep it simple and easy to use for users to relate to it.
Consider Web 2.0, collaboration, social networking and internet styles while designing the user experience.
Leverage latest technology like VoIP, video streaming, audio enhancements, RIA and Ajax, providing better user experience to interact has become the norm
Ensure that employees have better interfaces, lesser page loading and refreshing times and application that execute faster – follow popular social networking platforms that follow simplistic views and trends.
Implement search capabilities that allows employees to obtain relevant information encompassing documents, content, profiles, experts etc in shorter time spans – “Accurate results leads to greater productivity”.
“I want to Google my internal work spaces, rendered as the intranet. “ - In the words of an end user.
Top level Sponsorship across all key stake holders is a basic need to plan, approve, develop and deploy intranets – clear definition of objectives, goals and mission is a critical need.
Ensure the tracking of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) across the business against the ROI, user approval and acceptance and engagement matrices.
Establish clear guidelines on social networking, content management and publishing with social media policies that define ownership and responsibility towards content
Build on existing policies and procedures instead of abolishing them – users will be able to better relate to existing do’s and don’ts than having to understand from scratch
Evolve from the “blocking” scenario to more self governed scenario – put the onus on the content owners and publishers to take responsibility of the data.
Simplicity and transparency are the keys to good governance.
Intranets 2011 – Value Proposition Improved Employee Satisfaction
Employee surveys reveal that users are able to find relevant information faster. Ex: Users are able to find experts in minutes when previously it took them hours or even days.
Enterprise 2.0 tools have improved knowledge sharing, idea fostering and resource management enabling greater productivity and efficiency. Ex: New recruits are able to obtain support and knowledge leading to faster learning curve.
Mobile intranets provide access to employees from any location for collaboration and document management leading to lesser turn around times. Ex: Sales employee can collaborate with any team and get a quote instantly.
Communication has become faster with tools like IM, VOIP, Video Conferencing etc. This has also reduced travel times and cost overheads.