James Royal-Lawson


The poor state of Sweden’s intranets

Swedish intranets are seriously under performing, lacking resources and lacking routines – quite simply they are not delivering to the maximum of their capabilities

In October 2009 Web Service Award released a report, “Hur mår Sveriges intranät” (“How is Sweden’s intranet”) in which they surveyed 290 intranet managers about the quality of their intranets and their working environment.

One in Two intranets are useless

Some of the results are really quite alarming. Only 47% thought that their intranet helped employees with their work. Every other intranet manager therefore considers their intranet to be of no use! Shocking!

Given that the report goes on to say that 42% have no routines for checking that information published is correct, that 62% have no routines for checking the quality of text which is published, and that 60% think their intranet structure is poor – it’s hardly surprising so many think their intranet isn’t helping at all.

Most intranets are used as news distribution channels (81%) and for finding employee contact information (73%), whereas very few as used for activities such as E-learning (7%) and discussions (8%).

Back to basics – Intranet strategy

The survey claims that 63% of intranet managers are working actively to encourage employees to make use of the intranet. Judging by the reports findings, the best they can do is go back to basics – analyse what employees actual do and see how those behavioural patterns can be assisted by the intranet.

An intranet is no different to any web site in many ways – you need a strategy, and you need to understand your target audiences and help them achieve their goals and in turn yours. Thankfully 43% said they were planning to “rebuild” their intranets. Hopefully that will mean more than a new design and moving some pages about.

if we do our change management correctly all we need is micro-blogging, a document management system that gives URL’s and maybe a link-trimmer

Is Twitter Knowledge Management? by Dave Mastronardi.

Like Dave, I’m increasingly convinced that a microblogging tool could solve many knowledge management and intranet effectiveness issues while at the same time improving co-operation and social networking skills within an organisation.

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Intranet social networking for small businesses

Over the past 18 months I’ve been overseeing the implementation of Yammer (intranet social networking tool) in a small business. The goal was to reduce the amount of ideas, discussions and knowledge circulating in emails sent to a limited audience and increase knowledge sharing and learning.

It’s taken over a year for a majority of employees (and close partners) to find a place for micro-blogging in their daily communications. At first it was just myself and two other early adopters who jumped in and started talking. Then, as time passed, real-life conversations started to bring up Yammer conversations and shared links – increasing the curiosity and interest of non-active colleagues in joining our social network.

As Nielsen have pointed out, growing a social network internally isn’t something you do overnight. You have to have the patience to let it develop organically.

Everyone currently follows everyone else. It’s a small enough company to cope with that, but as the network grows, I’d expect people to begin being selective about which collegues they actively follow and for more groups (or side-discussions) to appear.

With Yammer, this small business now has a searchable database of ideas, links, conversations – company assets that would normally be lost in email. They also have the ability to do all this in real time; asking questions and sharing experience. For a small company with consultants who are often working across a number of client sites; Yammer has become an active hub, leaving the formal, structured intranet as a reference library.

Enterprise 2.0’s power is not about tools, it’s about the communication shift that those tools enable.

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, Social Networking on Intranets
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