Does one size really fit all?

WordPress for news…
Wikimedia for wikis…
Jive for collaboration…
…and everything tied together nicely on the platform that IT told you to use?

To many intranet professionals this seems like an unreal scenario, but quite the contrary, this is actually the case in several large companies – even some where you would think that they ought to have everything figured out in terms of platforms – maybe that’s just what they have!

This was one of the conclusions I have drawn after attending the Employee Portal Evolution Masters in Berlin. It seems like most large companies are going in one of three directions at the moment when it comes to developing their intranet.

  1. Implementation of Sharepoint 2010 with the full host of services that it provides.
  2. Integrating familiar services and software from the www into the existing platform – “The Patchwork Intranet”
  3. …Nowhere… (OK, that’s not really a direction, but many are still struggling with the aftermath of the financial crisis – leaving little or no room for development)

The approach that intreagues me the most is the patchwork intranet. The fact that I see more and more large companies going down the road of integrating tools from the www. Some might say that they have given up, but you can also argue that they have realized the online world moves faster and faster and even the big players struggle to keep up!

Let’s put it this way: Would your colleagues be complaining about the intranet search not working if it hadn’t been for the ascent of Google? Would they ask to be able to comment on news if we didn’t have blogs? …..and would they request something allowing them to connect to others if Facebook wasn’t around?

Your intranet needs simply reflect what’s happening on the internet!

Stop the “One size that fits our business” approach  and start looking towards what you can get if not for free, then for a fraction of the cost of a big-name platform. Use the tools that fit your needs – don’t make your needs fit the tool. I know that the management and/or IT folks will disagree with this and play the security card to prevent this from happening, but when several of the world’s largest companies are venturing down this road – surely it can’t be all bad!

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5 thoughts on “Does one size really fit all?

  1. The problem still remains, companies are reacting to something and making quick judgments. They need to step back, figure out what they need, why they need it and the value of having it. The value should them help them decide the budget to implement it.

    It shouldn’t be, We should have collaboration software…lets get sharepoint.

    1. Tim, great point! Making sure that there is a fit between business needs and technology is paramount – and will remain so. I’m just arguing that some times you just need the ability to act quickly to some kind of pressure coming from the outside world. The value may not be obvious, but you need to test it before you can determine IF something brings value.

  2. Nice post, Martin! This is indeed interesting. What I do think is that the patchwork intranet is a temporary thing. It gives companiees the chance to experiment with new tooling (mostly social media). Most companies don’t want to go to a new platform before experimenting due to costs. I think eventually when companies have experimented with (free) social media, they we then move over to a platform that fills in all their requirements. But even then the patchwork intranet will still be around, because of the new technology that pops up then. 🙂

    1. I think the biggest question is whether we will ever have a platform that meets all our requirements. No doubt that we will need a playground, or a lab if you like, where we can experiment with new features which then can be implemented on the platform that the IT Department often has chosen for us 🙂 Patchwork or not, choosing a platfom which allows integration is something that we webmanagers need to ensure because others may not see the same perspectives.

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