For an Effective Intranet: Throw Out the Corporate Home Page

Relevancy is value. In a world where projects are justified through ROI analysis it is odd that most of today’s corporate intranet “Home Pages” consistently supply users with an exceptionally high noise to signal ratio. Instead of acting as enablers, they pour an overwhelming maze of information onto users – with questionable relevancy. Does it really make sense to use a key touch point in the enterprise to bombard users with low relevancy global information? There is a good chance they are not even familiar with the details of their own department. A huge opportunity is being missed by not taking some simple steps to allow users to more effectively access pertinent information related to their job functions and more easily navigate the overall organization.

Thankfully, it does not take a massive amount of effort to begin taking steps to significantly increase relevancy for users. By answering a few critical questions and understanding how to enable some of the basic capabilities of E2.0 technologies that power our intranets we can capitalize on this opportunity. At the end of the day an intranet needs to act as a tool to make members of an organization more performant.

Refocus
Q: Why does the corporate intranet exist? We want to make users more productive and provide access to materials that are related to that user’s job function. Corporate identity and general news are undeniably part of an intranet solution, but should not be the focus. Although this seems straightforward, unfortunately politics can come into play and complicate these intranet goals. In these cases it is even more important to stress the rational behind having the intranet in the first place. My fellow AIIM bloggers Bertrand Duperrin and Steve Radick have touched on some of the political challenges around in Intranets should not be built as advertising spaces .

Q: Would we spend time in other departments meetings every day? Sure, from time to time we do want to drop in on other departments to get a sense of what the organization is doing as a whole, but this would be very counterproductive if done in lieu of us focusing on our daily departmental tasks that help our organizations to move forward.

Intranet Tiers of Relevancy
To make an intranet home page as effective as possible it helps to logically segment the page on the basis of relevancy. The following three tiers provide an excellent way to easily discuss and filter what information and applications may be fall into a particular tier.

  • Me – Immediate items that require a user’s attention like action items in a workflow, team announcements, personal links or saved search links
  • Team – Information from departmental collaborative areas, new or updated job specific knowledge base articles, research or links to department specific applications or materials
  • Global – General company information like M & A activity, global news or general corporate communications

By default every intranet is going to contain elements that already exist within these tiers. The most basic intranets will consist largely of content in the Global Tier, with more advanced and relevant deployments, providing a more consistent distribution across the tiers.

First Steps to Relevancy
The following is not meant to be exhaustive, but to provide some good starting points to increasing the relevancy of your intranet home page. The goal is to transform a once irrelevant landing page experience into one that immediately provides value to the end user, saving them time and effort with a minimal investment of resources from an IT or business standpoint.

Think in Thirds – Cut the Landing Page into thirds. Each third will now display information based on its Tier of Relevancy. To start seeing the benefits of throwing out the corporate landing page, not each tier needs to be addressed, but any effort to move away from a deployment that has a focus on the Global Tier will yield results.

Personalization 101 – Even the most rudimentary intranet should be able to make use of departmental and geographical information synchronized from a corporate directory to automatically deliver targeted information to users. Even basic ECM and portal technologies support user profile meta data that the landing page can use to make a region of the landing page Departmentally Aware.

Department Management – A department leader should be able to self-manage content that pertains to his or her group within the organization. This content will be provisioned to users within their department to help keep them abreast of relevant information and events.

Personal Actionable Information – The Me Tier takes the most effort to develop, as it often requires some level of system integration to deliver highly targeted information. Take a first step and understand what your E2.0 platform can natively provide to support this effort. Perhaps it may be a BPEL worklist, CRM dashboard or other application component that already exists within the intranet and can be easily repurposed.

A Glimpse into the Real World
Even the most basic first pass at providing users information at the Team and Me the tiers can have a profound affect in the overall effectiveness of an intranet landing page. I am currently witnessing a large organization undergo a transformation similar to what is outlined above and the difference in usability is stunning. The underlying content within the system has not changed at all, but the links and content provided to users are now job specific. This has transformed the site from something that was too arduous to use, to something that is making a quantifiable, positive impact on the user community. I look forward to elaborating on various sections in subsequent postings and helping organizations unlock existing resources that can benefit their users.

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