Just before Christmas I posted the following discussion topic on the LinkedIn Group, Intranet Professionals (btw, if you are not already a member of this group, I'd strongly recommend that you join):
"What is the one thing you would like to improve most about your intranet in 2010?"
I provided a link to an online survey and people also responded in the actual discussion. The results of the online survey were:
It seems the two popular picks are improving search and making the intranet a more interactive experience. These conclusions are also supported by the comments made on the actual discussion site.
Over twenty intranet owners/advisers responded to the question and there were some common themes among the comments which I have summarised below.
Of the 21 responses, 10 mentioned that they would like either an improved search or a better Information Architecture (which makes it easier to find information) as one of their goals for 2010. This was the category that received the most responses. It seems that the issue of finding information is still a major challenge for many intranet professionals.
This is supported by feedback from the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) - intranet end user survey - which shows that ease of finding information is considered to be the most important quality of an effective intranet and yet is also the area that needs the most improvement (see What makes an intranet valuable - Part 1).
There were also 10 comments about news and content. Interestingly a couple of comments related to cleaning up content on the intranet - which would help make it easier to find information. Katri Pyykkö, Kela, makes the good point that "The intranet is not an archive" and wants to start cleaning up the intranet. Mike Chapman (Cancer Research, UK) also makes the good point that he would like to "close the gap between what content producers think they should provide and what the users really want." I think it's called vanity publishing and I agree that too much irrelevant information can dilute the value of the useful information (this is often called the signal to noise ratio). Sean Zintl, Sky, wants to "Make content more relevant to specific target audiences "
Five people commented on the desire to introduce personalisation to the intranet. While personalisation has been a popular goal for intranets for a few years now, feedback from the WIC shows that there is not a strong correlation between having the ability to personalise and the overall value of the intranet. The correlation between personalisation and overall intranet value is less the 0.1 - one of the lowest of all the WIC questions. For more information, see What makes an intranet valuable Part 3.
Five people also mentioned intranet training as a goal for 2010. While the correlation value between intranet training and intranet value is relatively weak 0.23), the number one ranked WIC organisation - Wyeth/Pfizer (MENA) - rates the highest in the question about intranet training. This may indicate that there is a relationship between intranet training and the perceived value of the intranet by end users at some organisations. ie. when training is provided, intranet end users think the intranet is more valuable.
Providing intranet training is one of the lower rated WIC questions. The chart below shows that, on average, none of the end users from the 30 organisations who have participated in the WIC so far agree that they have received training on using the intranet. To me, this is an area that can be quickly and easily addressed without a significant financial outlay. At the least, the cost of providing online training is minimal - an intranet video can easily be created in less than a day. Check out the Youtube video showing the SharePoint Intranet Launch at Hudson for an example.
Measuring the success of the intranet is another popular topic with six people saying it is something they would look at this year (feel free to register for WIC participation - it's free :-). Better reporting tools, measuring usage, and developing a better feedback system were all mentioned as goals for 2010.
Collaboration and social media
There were seven comments around social media - most along the lines of providing the tools rather than defining a strategy or a process about how they would be used. The online survey (53 votes) indicated that making the intranet more interactive was the number one priority for 30.2% of respondents - the second highest percentage (behind finding information %34).
Four of the 21 responses are planning an upgrade the SharePoint 2010 and one person is looking forward to his Thoughtfarmer upgrade ;-) As I mentioned early, other people are looking at introducing social media functionality this year as well.
Other popular goals for 2010 include better intranet governance (5 comments), re-designing the intranet (2), faster access (2) and online forms (2).
An interesting observation made by Martin White, Intranet Focus Ltd, was how little reference there was to ensuring that the intranet could be accessed over mobile devices. In fact, only Christy Season, SCANA Corp, mentioned that she was planning on reasearching mobile access (by the way, SCANA Corp were listed as one of Jakob Nielsen's best intranets of 2010 (shouldn't it be 2009??...anyway, too late to change now I guess).
A possible explanation for this may be that mobile access is not seen as a priority because most employees currently access the intranet only when they are at work.
However, I agree with Martin's analysis and think that the place-independent intranet (refer to Jane McConnell's Intranet Trends Report) is one of the future intranet trends. I also remember reading somewhere recently that there are currently 1.3 billion mobile devices in the world and only 1 billion computers (don't quote me on this and I would appreciate if anyone can find the reference - I did look for 20 minutes). Anyway, there are a lot of mobile devices out there and growing all the time... no doubt about that and I believe intranet owners should certainly be considering this in their strategy planning.
If you would like to read the full discussion you will need to join LinkedIn and then join the Intranet Professionals Group. I'd strongly recommend you join this group to expand your intranet network, keep up-to-date with the latest trends, and to discuss intranet related topics.
...I have made a resolution myself this year and that is to publish a new blog post each Monday... starting today ;-) So check here each Monday to keep up-to-date with the latest updates from the Worldwide Intranet Challenge, Intranets and the Workplace Web.