Published on Sunday, August 24, 2014

Where are our Intranets heading ?

Where are our Intranets heading ?

Where are our Intranets heading ?

Roughly one in every five knowledge workers today has access to SharePoint but the question remains as to whether are they using it, and more importantly, are they adopting it?

In this 3 part series, I plan to highlight

  1. how intranets have evolved from 1990s and 2000s to now and what are some of the new challenges that intranets of this era face
  2. iLink’s approach at taking a stab at this problem using SharePoint as a platform and
  3. Strategies on how SharePoint and SharePoint intranets can be/become much more than just another “IT project” in your organization.

I came across these images which depict some award winning intranets of late 2000’s. While a few of us may not be able to relate to this, but to a lot of people many elements of these designs are already considered old school.

Intranets heading


Intranets heading


Intranets heading


The problem/flaws with intranets of the previous era are many. Some of the big ones, based on our experience, are

  • Static Content
  • Very focused on task and project information
  • Non intuitive designs and layouts
  • Painful search experience
  • Not geared towards collaboration
  • A set of nonintegrated systems

While intranets of this generation have started to evolve to address some/all of these challenges, they also face additional new ones due to evolution of user personas and behavioral experiences and the resultant increased expectation in part also due to technological advances that have made this possible.

A case in point till about 10 years ago, internet Infrastructure did not scale/in some cases even exist to allow seamless and smooth collaboration of a geo-distributed workforce. This was solved in part by the mobility revolution – now 3rd world countries like Africa have skipped a generation of telecom evolution and, by embracing mobile, are finding ingenious ways of using 3G/4G to overcome crippled infrastructure.

New Challenges faced by next – gen intranets in addition to overcoming ones posed by the older intranets

  • Personalization – News, feeds, design etc all have to be customized to cater to individual’s tastes in order to keep them engaged with the site. As one can imagine, this can get really challenging really fast because of having to deal with not only ethnically diverse and geo-distributed workforces but also with different demographic profiles (laid back Baby boomers, settling down Gen X and the restless millennial),within the same building.
  • Mobile – Anytime –anywhere - any device trend esp with the flexible and on the move workforce where users expect to be connected in real time and have seamless access to the right people, systems or information, regardless of where or how they choose to do it.
  • Social – And how the tides have turned, fast forward from the days when social media was proclaimed as a productivity killer and employees shunning using it in offices so to not be associated with a “Incorporate like” tag to today where MNCs are spending huge $$ and are hustling to design applications with FB like interfaces and user experiences to seek improvements in innovation, open communication and employee engagement

I have tried to group these and other challenges into the following categories

Bucket   Challenge
Connect Me    
Global Workforce   Changing Workforce, distributed across the world
Mobility   Any where, any time, any device with a friendly experience
People   Findability; enhanced communication tools
Social   Seamlessly integrate penetration of social features into mainstream workplace
Know Me    
Personalization   Catering to individual tastes and demographic profiles
Nourish Me    
Governance   Managing site proliferation and avoid sites becoming a content “ghost town”
Content strategy   Better content curation to maintain relevancy, act as one stop shop for knowledge
Information architecture and search   One click search, improved and fast information finding


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Author: Satish Subramani

Categories: Blogs, Developer


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