Conference Notes

Notes on "Hottest Intranet Trends for 2006", Aug 23

I’m at the Novotel Hotel in Auckland for the 6th Annual Strategic Intranet and Enterprise Portal Management conference. My notes on the various sessions.

Presentation by James Robertson, Managing Director at Step Two Designs)

Hottest trends for 2006 … it’s good to get excited about intranets … some hype, some reality. Key trends … enterprise 2.0, enterprise IA, portals, web content management, collaboration, search

Enterprise 2.0
Web 2.0 is the latest round of innovation; change from publishing content to read-write web; mashups (Google mapping example); AJAX for rich UI

What is Web 2.0? See Tim O’Reilly’s meme map.

James listed some poster children of Web 2.0, such as Flickr and 37signals. Only 4 people out of 50 people had heard of 37signals.

Enterprise 2.0 … application of Web 2.0 ideas within the enterprise. Staff can contribute directly, rather than being just passive consumers. Some exemplars … 3000 internal blogs at IBM, Dogear at IBM, Peers at AvenueA/Razorfish, corporate wiki and blogging software

Reality … some potentially useful information, different culture and working practices (have to understand how we integrated these in), challenge remains to get widespread engagement and adoption of these new approaches, corporate IT can also be a bottleneck, elements are being incorporated into existing systems. Getting back to “build it and they will come”. It’s not going to change the world, but it will have an impact.

Challenge for corporate IT … IT has become devolved to those who manage the servers, ie, IT administrators. IT doesn’t have expertise in WCM, information management, intranets … business analysts. Comes back to the role of the CIO … mainly becomes the CTO.

Need to find the drive this off the problem you are trying to solve.

Enterprise IA (Information Architecture)
Enterprise information architecture is different from generalized information architecture … need to be better at organizational change, culture issues, strategy and technology. There’s a collection of articles that will be helpful, such as Louis Rosenfeld and one of James’s articles

Portals
Hype … portals are the next best thing. They replace intranets. They provide a single point of access. Business systems can be easily integrated. Staff can personalize their experience.

The reality … the word “portal” means many different things. Implementation has proven difficult, and success is often elusive. On the main, portals are a fad driven by IT and vendors. There is some value to be gained. The industry is only now starting to discuss how and when to use portals, and how to make them work well. For example, portals can’t content manage … they merely aggregate. Although this is changing.

The challenge, again, is to drive it from a business perspective, not an IT perspective. Some resources … Taking a business-centric approach to portals, Understanding the requirement for a portal and Enterprise Portals Report.

One of the big challenges facing the enterprise is that people have better stuff at home than they do in the office. There’s a massive gap between personal and professional lives. It requires that senior level people come in and say to corporate IT … “if I can do this at home, why can’t I do it here?” It will be driven off bottom-up, grassroots adoption. Some from the younger generation are putting in their own servers, or signing up for external capabilities.

Web Content Management
The hype … has been pretty consistent for the past few years. It dramatically simplifies publishing and control.

The reality … Web CMS vendors are consistently delivering practical solutions; it is an immature market, and there are many good solutions to choose from. Industry players are finally having a discussion that doesn’t center on products.

Collaboration
Has become a really big thing. SharePoint has driven a lot of these discussions. Has spread like a virus; has been very successful, but no one knows why.

Reality … intranets give access to the phone book, forms, policies and procedures, HR information and a couple of other things. Few people use this all of the time. These don’t drive Intranet usage. See Step Two’s Three levels of information management. Collaboration takes place at level 2 … the team, the division, the unit. IT has been very bad at dealing with this. There’s a need that we haven’t met, which is why business people are doing their own things.

Collaboration supports sharing. Left to their own devices, collaboration tools are anti-knowledge sharing. Eg, Notes implementations that are divided up into 50,000 databases. We have to meet this somehow.

Search
Vital to a successful intranet. There’s more to do that just publishing content. Lots of good resources.

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