Friday 7 November 2008

The nature of intranets is changing

(Just to demonstrate that I haven’t lost the faith entirely, I decided to rework the introduction of The Intranet Imperative that I wrote back in 1995)

The Intranet 2.0 Imperative

The nature of intranets is changing.

Intranets and the World Wide Web may share a common heritage, but over time the application of the same Web technologies inside organisations have taken a divergent path. Some might argue that, quite rightly, intranets have ignored the bubble of hype and successfully weathered the information dangers that have plagued the Intranet. But with hindsight, the dot com boom and bust period can be seen not as a failure for the World Wide Web, but as part of a progressive wave of technology innovation that is slowly, but surely changing society and business.

Today that current wave of change is called Web 2.0 and through our own daily experience using this new World Wide Web it is influencing our expectations of what an intranet is and how an intranet should work. As a result, the safe traditionalist view of intranets, one that concentrates on perfecting static content built around fixed information architecture is becoming out of step with growing demand for more dynamic user-driven Web-spaces that connect users to useful people, places and things.

In time this demand for new capabilities and functionality will change intranets for the better. It will expand their scope beyond a narrow focus on publishing content into something that will play a pivotal role in defining the shape of our future information workplaces. But like all change, this transition from the traditional view of intranets to this new ‘Intranet 2.0’ will be hard for many organisations.

What is ideally needed is a roadmap to help guide the evolution of intranets safely through this change; but if we recognise that these are indeed waves of innovation and the outcome is hard to predict then what is really needed is a guide or set of patterns to build on, not a prescriptive set of steps.

And this is what this blog and the conversations around it represent – not concrete answers, but dialogue and ideas to inform our thinking as we embark on this exciting journey together.

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