Overview of content related to 'metadata' http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/taxonomy/term/95/all?article-type=&term=&organisation=&project=&author=martin%20white&issue= RSS feed with Ariadne content related to specified tag en Intranet Management: Divine Comedy or Strategic Imperative? http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue62/white <div class="field field-type-text field-field-teaser-article"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="/issue62/white#author1">Martin White</a> suggests that a failure to recognise the value of intranets is a symptom of a failure to recognise information as a strategic asset.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to Dante in his Divine Comedy the inscription above the door to Hades reads "Abandon hope all ye who enter here". For many this could also be the sign on the home page of their organisation's intranet as, with business-critical decisions to make, they begin the daily hunt for information that they are sure should be somewhere in the application. It could just as easily be the sign on the door of the intranet manager of the organisation, though this door usually also carries a number of other job descriptions, all of which seem to be given more priority by the organisation than the care and development of the intranet. Most organisations of any size will have a full-time web manager, often with a support team, but this is rarely the case with the intranet.</p> <p>There are a substantial number of intranets in the UK. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics indicate that 22% of all businesses have an intranet [<a href="#1">1</a>]. As the size of the business increases so does the level of penetration, and most businesses of more than 500 people will now have some form of intranet. Given the number of businesses in the UK the author estimates that there are probably around 300,000 intranets in the commercial sector, and at a guess a further 100,000 in the public sector, charities, Higher Education institutions (HEIs) and other organisations. Only over the last few years has any reliable statistical information become available on intranet use and development, and this is a in-depth global survey of only around 300 intranets [<a href="#2">2</a>]. In the UK HEI sector a major opportunity was lost in a survey commissioned in 2009 by Eduserv into the management of web content in the HEI sector as no account of intranet use of CMS applications was included in the scope of the survey [<a href="#3">3</a>]. A survey of SharePoint use in HEIs undertaken for Eduserv in late 2009 [<a href="#4">4</a>] did indicate that a number of institutions were using SharePoint for intranet applications but the survey did not look in detail at intranet implementation.</p> <p>It is also only over the last few years have forums been set up in which intranet managers are able to share experiences and challenges with others. The work of the Intranet Benchmark Forum [<a href="#5">5</a>] is focused on providing services to large organisations, but there are also other virtual and physical discussion forums, such as the Intranet Forum [<a href="#6">6</a>] run by UKeiG for its members. It is probably reasonable to suggest that the majority of intranet managers have seen very few intranets from which to gain a sense of good practice, whereas web managers have an almost unlimited supply of sites from which to gain ideas for their own use. This is as true in the HEI sector as in other sectors. Given the installed base of intranets in the UK it is also surprising that there is no 'intranet conference' event even though intranet management does feature in events such as Online Information [<a href="#7">7</a>]. Most countries in northern Europe have an intranet conference [<a href="#8">8</a>], often with several hundred delegates, so why there is no equivalent in the UK is a mystery.</p> <h2 id="Intranets_Are_Different">Intranets Are Different</h2> <p>All too often an intranet is regarded as an internal web site. The reality is that about the only commonality between an intranet and a web site is the use of web browser technology. Many very successful intranets do not even use a web content management application but instead are based on Notes technology or portal applications. Intranet content contribution is usually highly distributed, with individual members of staff publishing content direct to the intranet perhaps only a few times a year. This means that the web content management system has to be highly intuitive, and enable Word documents to be rendered into clean HTML code to create web pages. The teams supporting public web sites are using the systems every working day, working often in HTML and having a much more limited range of content to cope with. Many of the problems that arise in keeping content current on an intranet are a result of staff having to use a complex Web publishing system that was specified for Web site management and not intranet management.</p> <p>Another factor to be considered is that increasingly intranets are federated applications [<a href="#9">9</a>]. This is often the situation in HEIs where each department wants to have its own intranet, and on top of all these individual intranets there is some form of top-level 'corporate' home page and navigation. Often there is no central coordination of these intranets, and so each adopts some or none of the visual design standards of the HEI.</p> <p>As far as enterprise applications are concerned, intranets are different because they are not based on business processes or work-flow. Finance, registry, personnel and most other applications support well-defined processes, usually within a specific department, and where the content requirements are usually specified in database terms. Anything approaching text content is usually relegated to a single field in the database. Intranets exist because there is a substantial amount of information in any organisation that is not based on business processes and cannot be managed within a formal database structure, such as policies, procedures, campus maps, events, staff notices and hundreds of other information formats produced by every department and location within the organisation.</p> <p>As a result the intranet becomes an information dumping ground. Under-resourced intranet managers do not have the resources to maintain content quality, and so multiple versions of documents with no visible ownership or provenance proliferate. Employees leave or change responsibility but the intranet is based on a 'file-and-forget' principle and no effort is taken to ensure that document ownership is transferred to another member of staff. Very quickly the information architecture of the intranet, based usually on the structure of the organisation at the time of the last WCMS (Web content management system) deployment, is not fit for purpose. The decision is taken to implement a search engine, and only then does the scale of the problem of information decay become apparent. It can also be an interesting exercise to search for 'Confidential' and see just how many documents are returned!</p> <p></p><p><a href="http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue62/white" target="_blank">read more</a></p> issue62 feature article martin white eduserv google harvard university ibm intranet focus ltd jisc microsoft open university university of sheffield adobe blog content management creative commons data database dissemination document management drupal foi higher education html ict information architecture intellectual property intranet knowledge management licence metadata mobile open source passwords portal privacy provenance repositories research rss schema search technology sharepoint standards taxonomy usability web 2.0 web browser wiki Sat, 30 Jan 2010 00:00:00 +0000 editor 1530 at http://www.ariadne.ac.uk