In the past, Intranets have been, at best, archives of potentially useful information like leave forms and what is on the lunch menu at the cafeteria, covered in a strategic veneer of the organisational vision, mission and values on the landing page. In many organisations, Intranets are mausoleums of unfindable and outdated documents.
With the advent of the interactive web (web 2.0) we have the ability to hard code the organisational strategy into an organic ecosystem which forms the backbone of the enterprise, surfacing knowledge and behaviour in ways impossible before. The secret lies in data modelling.
Because web 2.0 enables employees to engage with the Intranet, they are generating metadata about how they are using the information and connecting with each other. There are a number of data sets that we can combine in the same way that DNA is structured to make the intranet dynamic and far more useful.
These datasets include information from people’s profiles, who they are, what interests them, what they are working on, their key performance areas etc. Other datasets come from the metadata in documents, what they are about, who is creating, reading, updating and commenting on them, the taxonomy how the information is categorised and stored.
When infusing these datasets with meaning, we use data architectures to inculcate the organisational strategies. These architectures are generated by translating the organisational strategy into a matrix configured according to KPI’s and organisational design.
So how do we do this?
We start with the organisational strategy, what is the vision is for where the organisation is going and how it will get there? What products and services it sells, which geographies, where its competitive advantages are, what are its strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats?
Then we examine how the organisation has been configured to do this, what is the organisational design, what are the employees key performance areas, what processes are in place and which technologies are being used?
At a deeper level of granularity, we translate the employee data into profiles from which we get the information about how they deliver on the strategy. Typical data includes variables about where they fit into the organisational structure, what information they need, what tasks they need to perform, the knowledge and skills and experience they have.
The categories of information that employees need to do their work is translated into a taxonomy and site structure which is intuitive and web 2.0 tools, such as wikis and blogs are added to enable them to engage with each other and create read and update information and knowledge.
Making it easy to find what they need is ensured by using semantic and predictive search. This is important because unless employees find the Intranet useful and easy to use, they will not use it.
Next we map the organisational processes for delivery on the strategy and relate them back to the employees using data. We also examine the other tools that we have to hand for data input, such as the technologies which could be integrated including ERP systems etc. Workflow is built into the processes on the Intranet.
Metadata is created for documents, online conversations and behaviours. This can be automated in applications like MS SharePoint 2010, and will feed into the search.
We can also identify additional external datasets which could enhance the employees ability to deliver, such as RSS feeds from the Dow Jones or the latest updates from industry research bodies.
A word of caution
Projects like these should not be undertaken lightly, the development of Intranet strategies can take a couple of months and requires executive commitment.
If the organisation is dysfunctional, or the processes are not optimised, you can wind up coding inefficiencies into the DNA of the organisation.
It is important to ensure that whoever facilitates the development of the strategy is a business minded person who understands how organisations function and be optimised.
Technologist often understand the software and could fit the organisation into the software, where because web 2.0 is all about people, the business must define the technology requirements.
Benefits of this approach
The benefits of this approach are numerous:
- A data driven approach enables agility within large organisations because as they change, it is possible to code new directions, processes and innovations into the strategic backbone of the enterprise;
- Communication, information and knowledge can be pushed to employees in a bespoke manner based on their specific requirements.
- It is possible to create an individually customised view of the Intranet to ensure that employees only see what they need to see which increases the relevance to each employee, and reduces information overload;
- Knowledge can be created once and used multiple times;
- Organisational networks can be surfaced for succession planning, and to understand who is networking with whom; and
- Performance can be managed through an understanding of what individuals are doing.
By using a data driven approach we can now code the strategy and the way we do things into an organic, expanding Intranet and truly drive competitive advantage.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org