Long-Term Thinking Pays Off For Intranet Success
Written by Robert Bredlau with eSpirit.
Beware the Knee-Jerk Adoption of Shiny New Technologies
When a new technology approach comes along, the knee-jerk reaction is to abandon the previous approach and go all-in on the latest and greatest. Unfortunately, such a move rarely works out as a planned, particularly if the new technology isn’t fully matured (which is almost always the case with new technology).
A case in point is the social collaboration platforms that many organizations saw as the replacement for their intranets. With features like news feeds, blogs, wikis and so forth, social platforms had all the bases covered. Or so everyone thought. As it turns out, however, a full-functioning intranet also has a strong need for advanced content management. Social platforms have many positive and beneficial capabilities, but managing large volumes of important corporate content and making that content available through multiple channels are not in the social playbook.
Content is critical to the success of any intranet. To be sure, employees need to be able to connect and collaboration with colleagues around the world, but they also need to be able to discover and consume content when and where it’s needed. In today’s world that content takes many forms, with video becoming more and more popular especially among millennials. An immersive content-rich experience motivates users and gets them excited to come to work every day. Get it wrong, and you will quickly lose their attention – and it may be hard to get it back down the road.
With this perspective in mind, it becomes evident that the starting point for an effective intranet strategy – one designed for long-term success – isn’t a social platform but a best-of-breed Web content management system (CMS). Putting a CMS at the center of your intranet strategy gives you a strong content-centric foundation while providing maximum flexibility to embrace new social technologies or new ways of working as they emerge. This is the essence of long-term intranet thinking: a dependable, scalable infrastructure coupled with the ability to adapt to change quickly and easily.
Three Elements That Your CMS Should Provide for a Successful Intranet
The key to success is selecting the right CMS. There are three enabling elements that your CMS should provide for this strategy to work.
First, your CMS should maintain a clear separation between content and channel.
This is important because it gives you the ability to leverage, re-use and publish the same content across websites, portals, social tools and mobile devices. Without the ability to maintain and update content centrally, it is nearly impossible to ensure consistency across all these channels.
Secondly, the CMS must provide a great experience for all users.
It must be easy for casual users to update and maintain content and update Web pages. Similarly, the CMS should provide tools that boost productivity for professional content editors without the need to involve IT. And the IT organization should find that implementation and ongoing support requirements are minimal.
Lastly, the CMS should adhere to a best-of-breed philosophy.
In other words, the CMS should be designed to integrate smoothly with existing portals and homegrown solutions as well as with the latest and greatest cloud apps and collaboration solutions. A major bonus is out-of-the-box integrations with major platforms such as SAP, IBM, Liferay and JBoss. Easy integration is what keeps your options open as new technologies emerge. By contrast, a suite-oriented CMS will tend to limit options while forcing a one-size-fits-all mentality.
While social collaboration technologies have come a long way in the last five years, it’s nothing short of naïve to think that we’ve reached the pinnacle of what these technologies have to offer. Fact is that management gurus and technologists around the world are hard at work to ensure that today’s social technologies and methodologies look old and outdated in five years. But while techniques and technologies may change, one thing is certain: content is here to stay. An intranet built on a strong content core provides the best assurance of long-term success.