The Modern Intranet is changing the way that organisations conduct business, providing them with operational support, employee profiling, transparency and collaboration abilities that we have not seen before. As an integral part of how an organisation operates day to day, the Intranet should essentially serve five purposes:
- Decision Support
- Risk Mitigation
- Employee Engagement
Organisational flux, rising competitive pressures and the expanding global reach of many organisations place a premium on information that helps executives to make the decisions required to manage a company. New demands for transparency from stakeholders and regulators magnify the need for better and more timely information.
The Intranet needs to provide two kinds of decision support;
- pull support when executives actually go out and look for the information they need in order to make decisions; and
- push support where the information is pushed to the executive by way of creating awareness, or educating or as an early warning status which requires action.
When people need to make decisions, they need to have access to the latest information, be able to find the most up to date version of the document, relevant reports etc.
Document management used to be the domain of the individual on his own C-drive (and prior to that in his filing cabinet), later documents were posted to share drives in whatever categorisation made most sense to the individual. Gradually project managers started imposing some structure on the share drive and people began using the shared information to inform their decision making.
Today’s business environment has become infinitely more complex and it has become necessary for people, not only to look for what they need based on how they expect the information to be categorised, but to be able to actively search using key words on the Intranet.
It is possible, using the modern Intranet, to enable employees to surface the information they require to make decisions based on a search functionality as well as individual profiling. This means that if one employee is profiled as a “marketer” and another as a “technologist”, when they search for documents and type in the words “networking event February” the marketer will get the latest plan for a breakfast she organised for senior staff members to network with clients, and the techie will get a list of disruptions on the company network during the month of February.
Push support is generally in the forms of RSS feeds which are set up in order to ensure that the latest relevant information from outside the organisation is reaching the right executive. This may be economic data, technology development, trends analysis etc.
Push support also includes aggregated information about the company in the form of regularly updated news portals or progress reports etc.
Knowledge Management is also an important part of decision making. All to often companies deploy knowledge management tools without thinking about the kinds of decisions it may support.
In order to be fully equipped to make any decision it is clear that the executives and employees need to have the correct information at the correct time. Care must be taken with version control and other document management activities to ensure that this is the case.
Company Policies are also incredibly important when it comes to risk mitigation and of course the documentation pertaining to governance must be easily findable and accessible on the Intranet.
It is also important to build corporate governance into the operational processes on the Intranet. For example if certain people may not speak on behalf of the organisation, they should not be able to post on the corporate blog, some employees might need to be moderated and some actively encouraged to create thought leadership blogs etc.
Risk can also be mitigated by building flags into the Intranet, for example when a senior engineer resigns, anyone who is working on a project with her is immediately notified and can proactively co-opt a new resource onto the project. Another example could be when a supplier has let the company down, that the system alerts the accounts manager that there may be a delay on delivery to the client.
We all know that the pace of change is rapidly increasing and the Intranet is a fabulous collaboration tool for different employees from different parts of the organisation to become aware of Innovation projects and participating in innovating into the future.
Well designed Intranets let the employees attach all the related documentation to the Innovation project as well as the profiles of the individual participants, so that in future this data can be interrogated to understand the innovation process or to identify people will great innovation skills. This is a great knowledge management tool.
The Intranet can incorporate workflow which enables the employees to identify gaps in their knowledge and to book themselves on courses. It can provide on-line material and the succession plan can also be built into the individuals profile as they learn and progress through the organisation.
The Intranet is a fantastic tool for connecting and communicating with employees, whether it is providing them with interesting content, rewarding them for contributions or enabling them to see how they are performing or just letting them network and up-skill each other within professional communities of interest.
The ability to profile employees leads to all kinds of opportunities from improving their search experience, enabling people to find certain skills within the organisation.
The days when an Intranet was a nice to have are gone. The modern Intranet is a critical strategic and operational tool which no medium to corporate business or public sector organisation should be without.
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