This is the 3rd and final part of the Internet Imperative. Part 1 takes a critical look at our understanding of what is an intranet, while part 2 provided a framework for developing a strategic view of intranets that encompassed our new definition.
From imperative to action
The intranet imperative is driven by unstoppable technology advances that affect how people work with and use information technology in the workplace. These include:
Blurred lines between people, places and things - the distinction between intranets, extranets and Internet sites is changing;
Rich media and interactive content - the scope of content has expanded to includes more than static documents, text and images;
Always on, always connected - the working environment and intranets need to be delivered through new channels, such as mobile phone, wireless PDAs, voice and kiosks on the shop floor;
Next generation networks - awareness, presence and locality will be built in; and
User-driven software - users will take the path of least resistance and will pick less sophisticated tools if they get the job done.
Unfortunately for the average intranet manager or management team these changes will of course increase the complexity of dealing with already existing document-centric challenges such as information architecture, effective search and content quality. For example, expert designed information architectures will need to co-exist with those created by user communities. In practice what this means is that we will see organisations embrace different degrees of control, standardisation and integration in order to align their application-nets with the strategic goals of the organisation. For example, centralised authoring will live along side self-publishing systems such as wikis and blogs because it makes business sense rather that isolated decision to choose one over the other.
What may be worse still for some teams is that the technology of the intranet will no longer be isolated from other parts of the organisation. Under these circumstances the system architecture becomes even more critical as both a plan but also as a process for engaging with the rest of the organisation, both in terms of needs but also to create the right operational linkages. So, applying strategic thinking and designing a system architecture for your next generation intranet represents more that just a nice theoretical step but is instead a critical success factor.
We now understand that the nature of intranets is changing. Unless you use strategic thinking to broaden your concept of what constitutes an "intranet" into a next generation application-net, then you risk losing control as technology leaps ahead without you. You can prepare for this challenge by:
Understanding why the nature of intranets is changing;
Analysing the strategic context of your intranet today and what will be needed moving forward; and
Designing a new system architecture that will facilitate this change so it is progressive, evolutionary and beneficial rather than chaotic, revolutionary and disruptive.
Tags: collaboration, information-architecture, intranets, intranet imperative, extranets