As 2010 draws to a close I wanted to pull together some of the predictions I'm seeing for intranets in 2011, and to provide some resources as well.
Predictions and Trends for 2011
Here are five of my own (the humble thing to do would be to list mine after the all the great thought-leader content below, but it's my blog, so...).
In 2011 I believe we'll see more of a focus on:
- nonlinear business processes - some call these information work, knowledge work, etc.
- observable work (props to Jack Vinson for introducing me to this concept, and more about how this relates to SharePoint in an upcoming blog article)
- alternative devices. This goes beyond "mobile capability" but includes it. ("Why would I use the company-issued PC when I can work from my iPad?")
- mapping, and location-based data.
- tiny URLs! I have started hearing from clients, specifically those whose user base is college-student age, that one reason the end-users don't use/like/adopt existing systems is "the links are too long." Welcome to the bit.ly generation!
Notice I didn't mention "the cloud." That's because I don't think it's a trend or a prediction. It's here.
Now on to the roundup:
At the Gilbane Conference in Boston in early December, I heard a panel of speakers identify the following trends:
- Mobility (no surprise here)
- Curation of content (the raging of this debate is out of the scope of this blog post)
- Digital Asset Management (really a trend for 2010; nearly all my clients were thinking about this and starting to plan for it, and this will only continue)
- Content Strategy (Described by the panelists as training the content producers and writers to think about content in the way people want to read it - i.e. don't plop a paragraph of text on the page, think more in terms of keywords, bullet points, chunking, and a shorter attention span).
I find "content strategy" to be a euphemism for "don't make them read!" And I agree that it is a trend we'll see in intranets going forward. I'm hearing it from my clients too - they are starting to get that it no longer makes sense to have a big block of "welcome" text on their department's intranet site.
The panelists were:
- Keith Cook - VP & Global eBusiness Officer, Ace Group
- Marie Williams - sr director, web innovation, global online services, Hilton Worldwide
- Aaron Hill - Sr. Director, Online Strategy & Services, SAS
- Moderator: Frank Gilbane
From a survey of 420 intranet managers, 5 intranet "megatrends" - from Intranets in 2011: a turning point by Jane McConnell:
1. Portal into the workplace web (access to all the content, services, tools & apps to do one's job)
2. Increased team orientation (i.e. collaboration)
3. Near real-time communication (i.e. microblogging)
4. Place-independent (i.e. working remotely)
5. People-focused (ability to find each other & form communities)
Ms. McConnell also reports that social media are challenging businesses to use them in ways that make sense for the business, and that steering and governance are of critical importance. No surprises there, but these concepts still haven't caught on in many organizations.
From more than 50 intranet case studies, Step Two consulting produced Intranet Innovations 2010: key themes from this year’s awards - by Alex Manchester. These themes echo McConnell's in some ways, and are detailed with case studies and screen shots.
1. Intranets are no longer just about content, they're about the tools and processes people use to do their jobs, and a way of connecting employees - one intranet that "does it all."
2. Social Media - no longer a nice-to-have.
3. Personalization - seeing a resurgence.
4. Data - companies are sitting on a gold mine of business data, barely used to its potential. (I wish I could make the prediction that companies will start investing heavily here in 2011, but regrettably I see many of them as still far away from leveraging their core business data.)
5. User Experience - don't ignore it. (Manchester cites the way public-facing websites are designed with the customer's ease of use in mind - why not for the internal customer as well? This theme comes up again in Berg's presentation below).
6. SharePoint "versus all others."
7. Support and buy-in - don't overlook them.
8. Innovate with your intranet!
This is a good read for the case studies & screen shots I mentioned; like a mini Nielsen-Norman Design Annual.
Focusing solely on the social theme, Oscar Berg at Acando Consulting has produced the slideshow "The Social Intranet." Trends he identifies:
1. Changes are happening faster and faster - be prepared for change and a more dynamic environment.
2. People are expecting more from the organizations for which they work. (see above re: "the links are too long!")
3. Focus is shifting from optimization (e.g. automation, outsourcing) to value creation, which requires collaboration.
4. Knowledge-based work is more strategic than structure-based work, and the needs of knowledge workers must be addressed. Social software is the way to achieve this.
5. We can find the knowledge we need on the intranet but not within our own organizations. Said another way, we have tremendous power as consumers but not as employees. (This echoes Manchester's usability point above - and I realize that addressing these issues is all about time, resources, and return on investment - but the notion I'm seeing here is that a company's intranet should receive a share of the thought and resource investment that the company makes in its public-facing sites.)
6. Information overload is due to a failure of filtering; our social network at work can act as an improved filter.
There's a lot more great content in this slideshow, about the bad practices we've inherited, the use cases that intranets don't support, key principles for a social intranet, how to update some familiar tools in a more 2.0 way. I highly recommend clicking through this deck for ideas and inspiration.
Toby Ward on CMSWire offers 5 Intranet Predictions:
- Sharepoint's "continued dominance" (shocker)
- Cloud intranets (really going out on a limb there Tony!)
- Blurred firewall
- Social intranet
- Leanness - small budget, few resources. (I'm not sure about this one, given the number of job postings I'm seeing from clients to support their SharePoint environments. See also the Intranet Benchmarking Forum's predictions 6 and 10, below.)
The Intranet Benchmarking Forum's Top Ten (or, my crude bulletization of a thoughtful and realistic article)
- the portal/webworld notion
- intranets managed at more strategic and senior levels
- alternatives to SharePoint
- strong intranets as retention/recruitment tools (hear hear!)
- say "collaboration," not "social media" or "enterprise 2.0"
- big investments "as if the financial downturn had never happened"
- digital workplace strategies get the five-year plan
- continued pain with search and findability
- remote and flexible working
- extra headcount for intranet teams in 2011
I'd love to hear from you about your own intranet predictions for 2011, or what you think about the ones above. I also plan to do a mid-year check-in to see how things are shaping up against the predictions.
Worldwide Intranet Challenge group on LinkedIn - An active and well-maintained group of 5,265 members at the time of this post, and where I first learned about some of the articles referenced above.