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Building a great Intranet environment is often about balance. Balancing acts like those between openness and security, corporate needs and individual desires, and the balance between content and culture often make for long meetings and tough decisions. Internal communicators and Intranet managers often have to determine how much to share and the right format in which to share it.
It never ceases to amaze me how few people trust their organizational intranets. A tool that was designed specifically for the purpose of helping employees do their job better and faster is often the joke of the water cooler. Yet organizations knowingly ignore the fact that employees don’t use or trust the information stored on their intranet.
Periodically, I have the great opportunity to sit in front of a group of employees and ask them about their intranet experiences. Often, it’s in anticipation of an intranet revamp, so the need for a “do-over” or an evolution has already been defined at some level. While the individual users and comments might be different, they usually go start with something like this:
Over the last few years, the social media boom has forced Intranet portal vendors to rethink some of their licensing models and expand their feature functionality. “Traditional” intranet portals that are simply presentations layers with a back-end content management system just don’t cut it anymore. Instead, organizations want their employees to generate peer-to-peer content using 2.0 functionality like blogs, wikis, and tagging instead of relying on one-way messages from the top.
When it comes to Intranets, governance is one of those topics that tends to divide folks into some pretty extreme camps. One side contends that users should be able to govern themselves and, when left alone, content driven by the users will be rich and meaningful. The folks on the other side of the fence believe that content should be generated by the organization for consumption by the users. Their position is often based on the argument that end-users would pose a risk to the organization by sharing incorrect, privileged, or inappropriate content. The reality is that these two camps do have valid points, but the best practice is to land somewhere in the middle.