Archive for the ‘Intranet’ Category

Enterprise Social Networking: Focus on Relationships (Altimeter Report)


Altimeter’s latest report now on Enterprise (inside of companies) social networking is now out from Charlene Li, author of Groundswell, Open Leadership and my business partner. She conducted thorough analysis by surveying 185 users, surveyed 81 ESN decision makers and interviewed 12 technology vendors.

Fig. 5 Enterprise Social Networks Have Only Moderate Impact On Business Goals
Key findings that attracted my eye include:

  1. Long term adoption often unsuccessful beyond one department. What’s interesting is there’s lots of initial enthusiasm but a slow decline after deployment. In many cases, primary adoption occurred in the marketing/product section, IT, followed by sales and corporate communication.
  2. Highest adoption of fremium tools. Interesting breakdown of vendors, with self-service Yammer in the lead, followed by Chatter and Tellingent and IBM connections.   What’s interesting is these fremium tools enter the market, get their hooks in and grow adoption and switch to premium offerings.
  3. Companies are measuring in the wrong way. Lack of metrics (or measuring the wrong way) by focusing on measuring conversations or engagement –rather than measuring improvement in relationships

Who said social media will reduce emails?
What’s interesting is that enterprise social networks don’t actually reduce internal email. The report also includes an actionable plan to get started, while there’s lots of details in the bullet points (filled with real world examples from real research interviews), they include four ways ESNs drive business value, including: 1) Encourage Sharing, 2) Capture Knowledge, 3) Enable Action, and 4) Empower people.

Open Research: Use it, Share it, and We’ll Publish More
We’re continuing to publish reports, and have a growing archive on our site, and will be doing a variety of webinars in support of these research findings. If you found them helpful, we look forward to you engaging with us in the conversation, and appreciate you using, sharing, and applying the findings.

You’ll find the full report embedded below which you can download, print and share, also read Charlene’s post.



The Challenges, Evolution, and Success Factors of the Enterprise Intranet


Enterprise Intranets are an often overlooked corporate asset. These powerful tools represent the knowledge, relationships, and processes of a company, yet for the most part they go under-resources, under-appreciated, and given third-class citizenship to the public site and customer or partner extranet. We know they are important as they are a direct reflection of your corporate culture.

If a company’s competitive strength is it’s employees and how they work together, the intranet is a valuable tool. Secondly, with many baby boomers in the United States retiring in the near future a great deal of corporate knowledge will be lost, how will you capture and distribute this tacit knowledge?

The Challenges of the Enterprise Intranet:
There’s a few major reasons why the intranet is not fully utliized, it really comes down to corporate prioritizies and resources.

1) Leadership not employee focused. Web strategy is often owned by the Marketing department, or a dedicated web team, they have specific business goals to hit, and they are often aimed at marketing or customer focused –not employee focused.
2) Little love from IT: IT often owns the infrastructure, systems, and applications that the Intranet sits on top of, and they often are focused on ERP project and leave the intranet in a ‘maintaince and manage’ mode.
3) Value not recognized: The intranet management team (if you have one) is perceived as a corporate cost as it can’t directly generate revenue further perplexing the problem
4) Too many cooks in kitchen: Many constituents from Marketing, HR, IT, and every business unit make decisions at an enterprise level difficult, unwieldy, and often not worth the effort.
5) Decision makers oblivious: Management and decision makers don’t use the intranet, they rely on administrative staff for scheduling, sometimes emails, and any intranet tasks, the pains and opportunities are rarely seen.

Evolution of the Enterprise Intranet
Intranets have a variety of stages as it evolves, I’ve listed out the natural growth pattern that I’ve seen.

1) Disparate: The early stages of an intranets birth often lies in the hand of a forward thinking rogue that sets up a server beneath their desk and initiates the first behind-the-firewall website. Later, many others follow his lead and create their own intranets on modified workmachines, and then finally they are put on servers and supported by IT. These often horrific looking and abandonded websites have a disparte user experience, look and feel, and content. There is little or no consistency resulting in a fragmented experience for users.

2) Common User Experience: As the company realizes the importance of sharing information on a web repository that’s available globally and 24/7 (unlike email) the push to unify the disparate intranet into a common user experience occurs. Outsourcing to a design firm or to marketing will yield a look and feel, navigation and information architecture form. Likely, hopefully the birth of a dedicated intranet team occurs, who manage the ongoing program. They provide direction, strategy, processes, and styles for content and the experience.

3) Unified Content Management System: Unfortunately, just because the front end of the website and the processes are starting to solifidy this doesn’t mean the right tools are in place. For the intranet team to manage all the content updates, create versions, and obtain reporting becomes unrealistic. As a result, the need for the right tools are needed. In the past, these webpages may have been static created and managed by tools like Homesite, Dreamweaver, or raw HTML, the need for what you see is what you get software is a requirement. The Intranet team needs and wants to empower business owners to manage their own content within the framework of the enterprise intranet. Typically IT is resourced to obtain the CMS tool, which will likely glue into existing architectures and systems, sometimes without the consent of the experience of the user base.

4) Personalization and Enterprise Search: With the access for business groups to publish at will with their CMS system, massive content is created and documents of every flavor are uploaded. The intranet begins to progress to a great deal of information, but leaving a very unwieldy experience for users, as a result the push for ‘portal’ type of personalized homepages may emerge, where content is delivered based on team, location, and rank. More difficult than easy, this undertaking is often not completed to the full enterprise. Enterprise Search, a tool that looks at all internal documents and data repositories emerges and starts to scan, index, and serve up information for users.

5) Collaboration: Popular in the last few years, businesses started to realize that employees needed to work together on knowledge projects and the right tools to span distance and time were not available. A large influx of collaboration tools invaded the enterprise, allowing teams to share and work on documents together and in near-real time. While helpful to many, the promise of ongoing collaboration isn’t for every user, as the complexity of features can be mind-boggling.

6) Socialization: Fast forward to today, the enterprise intranet are starting to see social features, (some call this Enterprise 2.0, but I prefer to focus on outcomes) where employees can go beyond collaboration on ideas and start to tell others about themselves, connect with others, and share information. The social capital of a company (the contacts and influence within a company) starts to become realized and the need to share contacts, knowledge across the enterprise (regardless of location or team) starts to emerge. There are many challenges that come with this, as the data starts to move to application service providers if IT doesn’t respond and data, security, and personal information leave the firewall. IT departments that are too slow to keep up end up doing clean up as business units can easily deploy their own intranet using tools like blogtronix, ning, and a variety of others.

7) The future: It’s sure difficult to peer into the next 5 years, expect rich smart phones to start to access the intranet for secured users as collaboration and communication occure on the road, at home, and during weekends –the workplace (along with the intranet) goes with us.

Success Factors for Successful Enterprise Intranet

1) A centralized body that controls the User Experience. A group that can define the design, look and feel, user interface, navigation, taxonomy, and information architecture of a site. They are also empowered to enforce this regardless of polical structure.
2) Business and personal users have freedom to publish: Although the constraints for consistency are setup, the business teams are empowered to control their own content, to quickly publish, and to modify at will. A balance is needed between them.
3) Expiration of content: The worst thing that happens to an intranet is the layer and layers of retired content that is overlayed on it. The intranet team should auto-review content that hasn’t been modified after X quarters or years, identify the creator, ask if it’s valid and remove if not.
4) IT gets ahead of the need: IT needs to move away from thinking of the intranet as a system to maintain, but as a system to grow, develop and constantly build on top of. Failure to do so will result in business teams finding their own third-party software, installing or running on a remote server.
5) A social sandbox for employees: Currently, many employees are sharing their personal and business lives on third party social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and to some degree LinkedIn. In many situations the opportunity for self-expression or to share personal information (even in the context of the workplace) is not supported by the enterprise. Companies should provide a social networking like service for employees to connect, share, build and further relationships on the intrarnet. Clearly delineate this is separate from the other area of the website, but give freedom for unique ideas to spread, grow, and be built.

So where is your intranet? which Challenge? What stage of evolution? Which success factors are present
For each of the three sections above which relate to you or your clients? Share with me in the comments:

Related Resources:

  • 12 predictions for Enterprise Web 2.0 in 2008
  • Enterprise Irregulars
  • Business and I.T. Must Work Together to Manage New “Web 2.0” Tools
  • Facebook as a Corporate Portal Platform?
  • Project portfolio management and IT governance

  • My intranet background: I don’t talk about it as much now, as I’m more focused on social media, but it’s still a passion. But in the past I’ve managed a global enterprise one for Hitachi Data Systems, aligned one at World Savings (now Wachovia) and did UI design and management at Exodus and Cable and Wireless America. Details on my profile.

    Intranets: A Reflection of your Corporate DNA


    Before you join that next company, consider asking for a look at the corporate intranet first. Why? The intranet is a direct reflection of the ethos, soul, and culture of a company.

    An intranet is important, it’s the collective knowledge of your employees, a collection of resources, and directories that should enable business to move forward faster (cost savings) and to grow and support customer focused teams (revenue generation). I’ve read research that indicates that 40% of the United States population will retire in the next few years, (Update: US Census reports that 26% of all Americans are baby boomers. 78M over US population of 298M, since youth and elderly are not working, 40% isn’t much of a stretch) and intranets are a key way to harvest the tacit knowledge from these information wealthy individuals.

    [An Intranet is an accurate reflection of the inner workings and ‘Corporate DNA’ of a company]

    My German uncle (I’ve a diverse family) runs the health department for a major county in California, his roots are with health inspection of restaurants. He told me one indicator of a cleanliness of a kitchen is to first check out the restroom, it’s often managed and cared for the same way. Intranets are often the same indicator for it’s internal culture. I know as I was an intranet manager, and have been involved with those programs in four previous roles.

    You can tell a lot from the intranet, the way it’s designed, displayed, organized, the content all reflect how the corporation is run. Take a closer look at your intranet and compare it to the following attributes

    What are the comparative attributes of a corporate intranet?

    Structured Organization or Loosely organized
    Is the architcture of your site tightly wound around the features of an existing CMS system, or loosely created by different collaborative groups? This is an indicator of how the company may be managed, either centralized or run by different factions.

    Static or Dynamic
    Is the content rarely updated, or is frequently changing with the speed of business? This could indicate how information is being shared (or not) within the enterprise.

    Text based or Media Focused
    Is the content primarily text and information geared, or are there uses of more ‘human’ mediums like images, maps, videos, audio? Is your company focused on delivering hard raw data, or sharing the human and ‘life’ stories among employees.

    Disparate or Centralized
    Is the user experience of your intranet different with every business group? or is it centralized within a single framework. This is a clear indicator of how your company is likely setup.

    Product/Customer focused or Employee focused
    Is your intranet focused on selling of products, or customers, or on the lifestyle of employees, and how they communicate. I’ve worked for a company where the sole purpose of the homepage was to push sales and marketing information to employees, nearly brainwashing. This indicates the true focus of a company. For example, Intuit is truly employee focused, and former employees tell me the intranet is setup this way.

    Top down publishing or Bottom up publishing
    perhaps the most telling attribute, if your intranet a publication of just a few key members with power, or are the voices and knowledge shared from across the enterprise? Does management lead with an iron fist, or are the suggestions from the employees on the ground floor (ones dealing with customers/products from day to day) taken into account?

    Publishing from Business or Technology Group
    Is the content published by a technology group, or is it in the hands of business? I’ve seen some intranets (a business tool) be controlled and owned by IT, which is clearly a mis-use of human tool to empower business units to communicate. This is a reflection of how business information is handled or respected, from a technology perspective or from a business perspective.

    [By looking at the organization, content, and publishing of your intranet, will indicate how your company is managed, prioritized, and focused]

    You can learn a lot from your enterprise intranet, it’s a telling mirror of the culture and ethos of your company. Now to hear from you: So how was/is your intranet organized? Does it reflect the corporate DNA of your company culture?

    Top 5 posts over the last half year


    In the spirit of self analysis, Dennis McDonald often posts the top downloaded documents on his blog. If you don’t know Dr Dennis, he’s an experienced, and level-headed IT consultant that I’ve known and been communicating with since 2005 (I guess we were thinking ahead). In fact, we started a white paper in late 2005 called “Business and I.T. Must Work Together to Manage New “Web 2.0″ Tools”.

    Although we wrote that white paper nearly two years ago, it continues to be downloaded and consumed (ranked number 6), as it’s finally becoming relevant to the enterprise workforce.

    If you’re a new reader to my blog, you may be surprised to find out, that before I became so focused on social computing, I was actually an enterprise Intranet manager on the business side, and have worked on a total of 4 intranets, for some of my career, internal knowledge management was my passion.

    Although I don’t have many docs on my blog, I logged into Google Analytics, and pulled this data.

    Here’s the top 5 posts in the last 6 months:

    The first was the blog index page, so I don’t need to include that.

    Views are ‘page views’ and Attention is duration spent on post (very important), I’ve included other interaction elements too such as comments, add them up and you’ll get a sense of user engagement.

    You’ll notice that for the most part, the traffic for these posts are not high, but it’s the interaction, the multiple comments, that make them stand out.

    If I had more time, I would go into Delicious, Magnolia, Technorati, and Stumbleupon to find others tags, comments and metadata associated around the content.

    For more information on social media measurement, check out this white paper I co-authored.

    1) List of “White Label” (Applications you can Rebrand) Social Networking Platforms
    The market is clearly hungry for this information. Techcrunch used it for their posts and analysis, and VCs refer to it before funding into this market I’m told.
    Views: 19,520 Attention: 00:03:26 Comments and Trackbacks: 201

    2) Marissa Mayar, VP of Google on The Future of Search and Announcing Google Gadget Ventures “We pay you $100,000″
    Got on, causing a tremendous spike and residual traffic of about 5%.
    Views 12,079 Attention: 00:03:14 Comments and Trackbacks: 23 (although if you go to the Digg page there’s quite a bit)

    3) Web Strategy: What the Web Strategist should know about Facebook
    This was passed around, and repurposed on
    Views: 7,690 Attention: 00:03:13 Comments and Trackbacks: 68

    4) Web Strategy: How to evolve your irrelevant corporate website
    This went global and the community started to translate it into multiple languages
    Views: 4,743 Duration: 00:03:35 Comments and Trackbacks: 78

    5) The Many Forms of Web Marketing for the 2007 Web Strategist
    I noticed that some of the reffere traffic for this comes from Stumbleupon and Delicious
    Views: 3,765 Attention: 00:02:50 Comments and Trackbacks: 58

    I hope you list out your top 5 posts for the last 6 months, it’s a good exercise to learn what’s worked for you, leave a comment when you do, I want to see.

    Instant Communities: List of companies that provide Web Collaboration Suites or Platforms


    Need to build an online community that collaborates?

    I get asked by a lot of folks to provide recommendations for products, often there’s too many companies to keep analyze, so I make these lists and refer folks to them. One of my most popular index lists is the list of companies that provide White Label Social Networking solutions, in fact there’s over 60 in that space.

    Here’s a list of companies that provide collaboration platforms with turn-key social features for ‘instant’ community.

  • Collaboration tools and social features
  • Common features, but are not limited to, include: forums, wikis, blogs, media, rss, aggregation homepages, presence, instant messaging, and ability to connect to identity systems such as LDAP/Active Directory.
  • These tools may have social networking features, that’s optional, but should certainly scale to it.
  • These platforms can be used in intranets, extranets, or public communities.
  • Limitations: I am NOT seeking platforms which you could build these features on top of it, I’m really seeking a ready-to-go community suite. I’m seeking solutions to build community, not ERP systems (but if they have both, that could be included). See my list of web-based CRMs.

    List of companies that provide collaboration platforms

    “Alfresco is the leading open source alternative for enterprise content management. The open source model allows Alfresco to use best-of-breed open source technologies and contributions from the open source community to get higher quality software produced more quickly at much lower cost. Our goal is to not only provide an open source offering but to surpass commercial offerings in terms of features, functionality and benefits to the user community. Alfresco is built by a team of leading members from Documentum® and Interwoven® with 15 years experience in Enterprise Content Management (ECM), including the co-founder of Documentum. ”

    “Blogtronix is a social media platform for Enterprise 2.0 communication. We provide a single, unified system that includes blogs, wikis, and social networking. Unlike other companies, we are able to offer a product that’s easy to use, scalable and can be delivered either on-demand or as a software. We’re equipped with a rich feature set that includes vlogging, podcasting, flash as well as a fully customizable interface. Our applications range from corporate in-house collaboration to global user created networks. ”

    Central Desktop
    “Central Desktop provides simple project collaboration tools for business teams.
    Our tools help your business organize and share information efficiently, communicate with others and collaborate on projects.”

    CommunityZero by Ramius
    “CommunityZero’s many features simplify community management and support group communication by making it easy for users to share information and knowledge online. Read on to learn more about these features.”

    “ is the official website of Drupal, an open source content management platform. Equipped with a powerful blend of features, Drupal supports a variety of websites ranging from personal weblogs to large community-driven websites.”

    “iUpload enables Internet-based business communities for the purpose of improving communications, enhancing customer relationships, driving sales opportunities and gathering marketing data.”

    “We develop award-winning collaboration software that improves a company’s productivity through open collaboration among employees, partners and customers. We’re located in downtown Portland, Oregon.”

    Lotus Connections, IBM
    “IBM Lotus® Connections is social software for business that empowers you to be more innovative and helps you execute more quickly by using dynamic networks of coworkers, partners and customers.”

    “A leader in social media software solutions , Pluck helps transform how publishers, media sites and major brands engage their audiences and customers to discover, create and distribute information online. Providing the technologies for content generation, syndication, social networking and news personalization, Pluck helps its customers more easily consume and leverage the new open content model that has emerged as the cornerstone of Web 2.0.”

    Sharepoint, Microsoft
    “SharePoint Products and Technologies provide enterprise-scale capabilities to meet business-critical needs like managing content and business processes, simplifying how people find and share information across boundaries, and enabling better informed decisions. Using the combined collaboration features of Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server 2007, plus the design and customization capabilities of Office SharePoint Designer 2007, organizations can enable their users to create, manage, and easily build their own SharePoint sites, and enable these sites to be discovered throughout the organization.”

    Social Networking with Enterprise 2.0 Collaboration As the Enterprise 2.0 leader, Socialtext applies Web 2.0 technologies to the critical challenges facing businesses.

    ThoughtFarmer (For Intranets)
    “Capture intellectual capital and strengthen workplace community with ThoughtFarmer social software for enterprise intranets. ThoughtFarmer combines the best of wikis, blogs, and social networking into an attractive, easy-to-use intranet solution for Windows server environments.”

    Traction Software
    “Founded in 1996, Traction® Software, Inc. (formerly Twisted Systems, Inc.) set out to eliminate the frustrating and costly inefficiencies in team communications and information management by creating a revolutionary web-based end-user hypertext journaling system. Traction TeamPage was first released in 1999 and, after commerical launch in July 2002, is the industry’s first and leading Enterprise Blog software. The software is deployed in leading enterprises, universities and many branches of the U.S. Government.”

    “Zoho is one of the brands from AdventNet, a software company started in 1996 focusing on building affordable software for businesses. AdventNet has served a diverse range of enterprise IT, networking and telecom customers. We know our customers have a choice of many vendors, and we want to earn their business and their trust by working hard for it. And having earned their business, we want to keep them happy so they will choose to do business with us again. These simple ideas have served us well, during good times and bad. AdventNet has achieved impressive growth, and has emerged as a rock-solid supplier and partner, with sound financials.”

    Sosius is an online workspace, accessible from any PC, that lets you create and collaborate. No software to buy and set up. Powerful and flexible yet easy to use.

    Project Spaces
    “Simple, secure and powerful web-based workspace to help your project teams, workgroups, committees, partners, and others quickly and easily connect, share and collaborate.”

    Six Groups
    “six groups enables you to start your own community for free, about every topic, available to everyone: Start immediately with a fully-enabled community, Define the data fields for your members’ profiles, Choose your design from a large variety of templates, Benefit from the six groups community.”

    Web Crossing
    “Web Crossing helps companies strengthen brands and build relationships. We are the innovative leader in Internet collaboration solutions used by online communities and project teams.”


    “Create your own secure collaboration communities branded & customized for your company, school or organization.”

    There’s a bunch of companies that provide document management or email type systems, this isn’t that. If you know of other companies that should be on this list, please leave a comment.

    Check out my other industry indexes for the modern and evolving web.

    Liberate your Control Freaks


    Great slideshare by Acidlabs, they’ve got a blog too.

    This ties in well with my recent post on The challenges that Enterprises will have with Enterprise 2.0. This mindshift is very hard for many folks to adopt. I think it’s somewhat stereotypical that the control freak is an older white male, I know people in many demographics that have a hard time with letting go. Link via Rafael, who focuses on Enterprise 2.0.