For large organizations intranet technology means one of two things: Sharepoint or not Sharepoint. The basic requirements of permissions, file types, search, user profiles and security are met in their own way in either option. That being said, there are several new technologies of note for each.
For most intranets analytics has always been something only accessible to the inner core of the application team and select senior product owners. Webtrends 2010 changes this equation in a big way. Now Sharepoint deployments can get the same level of detailed, graphic usage analytics as public website have utilized for years. Webtrends provides the ability to measure and manage intranets.
Product benefits as defined by Webtrends:
- Effectively understand SharePoint site usage
- Pinpoint areas for optimization, from system navigation and usability to content effectiveness and onsite search behavior
- Facilitate collaboration and optimize communications.
Many of the complaints about large Sharepoint installations are no one knows where anything is. Using a strong analytics application is one way to map the territory.
Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer may prove to accelerate its enterprise social capabilities but it remains to be seen how the company will absorb the new platform.
On the other side of the fence, Alfresco is gaining mindshare from Sharepoint as an open source enterprise content management solution. The recent big news from Alfresco is its cross OS, cross device capabilities through an HTML5 interface. That means iPhones can get to the intranet. Additionally, embracing other market trends, Alfresco solution is a layered SaaS and even offers Dropbox integration for personal cloud storage.
Alfresco says it has, “Just enough social to help you discover the right content and the right colleagues.” It remains to be seen how each company will benefit from the new social features. However, the product does present objects like user profiles in a way that real people are accustom too from using the big networks like Facebook and Linkedin everyday. Anytime an internet application interface can hop on the bandwagon of a dominant mainstream usage trend its a good thing for everyone.
Facebook helped popularize the concept of the Open Graph by providing developers with an API to its users, photos, events, pages and as well as to data about the relationships between each. The Open Graph is a deeper way to look at users, consumers or clients because it goes beyond the idea of basic digital tracking on a solo individual path (cookies). An open graph profile exists in a network of connections with other people, places, things and concepts.
The Open Graph’s two categorical elements are Social Graphs and Interest Graphs. Social graphs are people and the connections between people. Interest Graphs are topics, places or tings and the connections between them.
A good knowledge system takes advantage of both frameworks to highlight strong and weak bonds. A strong Social bond is exemplified by people working on a team. They all know each other and in some situations know each person on the team’s domain expertise. In the case of a strong bond the intranet system should be a seamless facilitator of desired group tasks in addition to individual productivity and training.
The real power of a good knowledge system is found in the ability to spot weak links in both the Social and Interest graphs. In practice this is an exercise in good metadata management with the benefit of allowing people across the organization awareness of and access to ideas, resources and existing work that may have otherwise been repeated or missed.
THINK believes the power of multidimensional relationships greatly enhances the productivity of knowledge sharing systems. We work with our clients to develop the ontological and technical structures required to deploy Social and Interest applications. We help leverage strong and weak bonds to increase productivity and workplace enjoyment.
How to be Successful
In the darwinian world of public networks there are fierce predators. You can debate why or how MySpace killed Friendster or Facebook killed MySpace but you can’t deny the carcass on the ground. For internal builds there is only one natural enemy, entropy.
The strategies for combating entropy sound deceptively simple; easy to use, enhances existing work flows, looks like mainstream consumer products, works on all of your devices. In reality these efforts are hard.
Many internal teams are not comfortable replicating user interfaces of public categories leaders but if you don’t you projects starts off at a significant disadvantage. Many IT and Operations teams are not sure what to do with iPhones or tablets but thats what the users use. Some intranet applications get crammed down from the top and never get used, some grow from the ground up but don’t have executive support to go companywide.
Building a successful internet is hard. Its takes executive leadership, smart product managers, dedicated partners and proven technologies. THINK understands the challenge.