J. Boye Aarhus ’09 Intranet Track: Day One, Session One

Global Intranet Trends For 2010 – Towards The Workplace Web – Jane McConnell, NetStrategy/JMC

My early morning Ryanair flight from Stansted must’ve caught a tailwind, because I arrive twenty minutes early, catch the bus into town and arrive to hear the end of Jane’s spot, the first public presentation of the results of her fourth annual Global Intranet Strategies survey. I’m already looking forward to reading the report when I get back, but I’m happy to hear very large organisations who are social media pioneers are benefitting from “more effective knowledge sharing”, “more engaged employees” and “increased cross pollination and innovation”.

Why We Need A Modern Intranet – Miquel Maldonado, Médécins Sans Frontières

First intranet case study of the day comes from Miquel. Médécins Sans Frontières launched a new intranet in August 2009 having decided that a new file sharing tool would not meet their requirements.

The design is clean – the sparing use of colour indicating this is a business tool. They’ve put a lot of thought into their taxonomy, extending the keywords they initially identified by adding popular tags from users, a nice feedback loop making good use of crowdsourcing.

A couple of questions from the floor:

Q: (Regarding user profiles) “How do you indicate ‘complete’ profiles to users?”
Miquel says there isn’t a measure of completeness for a user profile, but it prompts me to wonder whether a Linked In-style percentage measure would encourage greater completion of profiles? Something to try out in the future.

Q: “How integrated is the people directory?”
One of the great strengths of an intranet is its degree of integration. In MSF’s case, Miquel says, it’s not just blog and community posts which link to people directory records, but document authors too. Most intranets I’ve seen aren’t integrated to this level which impressed me.

Using tag clouds

A key feature of the new design is a tag cloud displayed prominently on the homepage. The terms are all countries, the larger ones representing countries with the most documents associated over the last three months.

This interested me because I’d had a conversation with my colleague Simon only 24 hours earlier about the appropriate use of tag clouds. We had a situation where we wanted to give users of a site the quickest access to policy documents. The problem is the tag cloud signifies popularity by measuring volume, not relevance – the most appropriate for my needs – or usage – the most often accessed. With user-generated content, this is great because it shows us trends. In MSF’s case, they’re using a time-frame of three months, so the cloud represents currency, the organisation’s focus areas during that period.

I was lucky enough to find myself sitting next to Miquel at dinner that evening, so I asked him about it. He said he’d had exactly the same conversation. Bravely, they’d gone ahead with an experiment to try it out and see what happened.

It will be interesting to see the results and get feedback from users. I’d be interested to hear other people’s experiences with tag clouds on intranets and whether or not they’ve helped people access user- and non-user-generated content more easily.