Corporate Intranets should not be built as advertising spaces

By Bertrand Duperrin posted 05-12-2010 16:01


Despite I'm convinced that Enterprise 2.0 is about people and not technology, it does not mean that technology is neutral. The way it's conceived and implemented can either be a catalyst or an inhibitor to new business behaviors people are exepected to adopt in their day-to-day work.

There's no need to go deep inside any large business' intranet to understand what I mean : the landing page is enough. A recent post by Gia Lyons about intranet and social platforms merger reminded me of many discussions I had with many organizations these last months (by the way it seems to be becoming a very trendy topic). Most of them are thinking of reiventing their intranet and the reasonning is always the same :

1°) We want something new

2°) We'll start with the landing page

3°) As every department / branch / part of the company wants its dedicated place on the landing page, the new landing page will look like the old one.

4°) Our reasonning seems to be right even if the conclusion seems to be wrong. What's the problem there ?

The problem is that most of times companies don't try to clear the right constraint. They think that screen size is a given, that every corporate department deserves some room on the landing page because they are corporate departments so they raise an unhealthy competition between these departments who compte for squared inched on a landing page for political reasons. They're behaving as if the landing page was an advertising place, as they were advertisers !

The real constraint is not screen size. Not because we have large and multiple screens (thats true for some happy fews of us but not for 99% employees) but because there is something that's even more scarce in an information world: attention. That's true for anybody in front of a TV or computer screen at home, and that's the same with employees.

If they are provided with the information they need to do their work then their attention is not wasted. If they aren't, attention is wasted. Let's be clear : attention means productive time, so wasting for useless purposes (on the user side) is wasting time and money.

So, what do people need to optimize the way their attention is used ?

1°) An information flow about what's happening in business operations they're involved in.

2°) Connections between this flow and business applications. It's not only about social updates but about business applications (BI, ERP...even calendar) updating their status according to what each user taken individually needs. It's about making business applications more "human" and teach people how to talk with them.

3°) Being able to find any static content they need, when when need it, without having it pushed on their landing page when they don't need it. It's about search and internal social bookmarking.

I agree it's a long and hard work and that such things won't be built overnight, that it will need a lot of small steps. But the earlier the trip begings the earlier and safer we'll get to destination.

Anyway there are some evidences the issue is known and well understood by some key players. Things like this or this make me think we're heading in the right direction.

#intranet #intranet2.0 #attention