If you’re not quite convinced that SharePoint 2010 will be your next technology true love, and are still on the prowl for an intranet solution sporting collaboration capabilities, then Intranet DASHBOARD (iD) could be the candidate you're after. Here's our review.
Intranet DASHBOARD (news, site), is an intranet software product consisting of a centralized platform combined with a bundle of functional modules used to build, manage and deploy a single Intranet site or multi-site Intranet property.
Developed using Microsoft .NET framework, iD uses a multi-tiered, object-oriented architecture making it "future-proof and scalable" -- according to the vendor. At the moment the company has more than 950 global clients, in organizations that range from micro-enterprises of 10 to others that are genuinely international with up to 140,000 users, including Shell and Audi.
iD is a .NET-based product typically run on Internet Information Services (IIS), using a Microsoft SQL Server or SQL Server Express database.
Vendor: The ADWEB Agency
Product Name: Intranet DASHBOARD
Product Category: team collaboration, employee training, document management, intranet
Typical Scenario: Creation of shared work spaces for teams to work and share information.
Company and Product History
Now 15 years old, the ADWEB Agency is based in Melbourne, Australia. It was one of the first multimedia and web-focused companies in Australia, and now has a global clientele with a track record of providing strategic and technical solutions to some of the world's largest companies.
In 2003 ADWEB created Intranet DASHBOARD, which provided an intranet operating system and came bundled with a suite of applications. In October of that year, it announced the general availability of Intranet DASHBOARD v1.0.
Intranet Dashboard -- Sample Portal Homepage
Within six months, ADWEB had developed enough kudos -- and apparently some convincing sales hands -- to pull in clients like Shell, who rolled the product out to 30,000 employees in 20 countries. Since then the company has been busy developing Intranet DASHBOARD with version 4.0 being the latest release. This most recent update comes with a free SharePoint connector, a number of applications and sports the new iD API.
While Intranet DASHBOARD doesn’t really seem to have a single target audience, its pricing and client list indicates that it's happier in the mid-to-large enterprise space than elsewhere, and that the software plays well in a range of verticals including automotive, finance, energy and even arts, with a deployment for the National Ballet of Canada.
Market and Pricing
ADWEB has made much of the fact that iD is an intranet builder and management platform that can be used in global enterprises, from tens to thousands of users. The product's market presence spread quickly from Australia to around the world.
At the moment, the company has partners in the U.S. and Europe, as well as the Middle East and Asia. ADWEB lures their partners with offers of services, sales support, technical training, marketing collateral and seminars aimed at maximizing their sales capacity.
For companies of less than 100 users, the price starts at US$ 4 per user per month and drops to US$ 1 per user per month for companies with 1000-2000 users.
Business Target and Purpose
Building an intranet is not for the faint-hearted. As internal enterprise resources, intranets evolve rapidly and reflect the changing priorities of enterprises. The result of this evolution is that the IT departments are constantly under pressure to keep up with business demands, and often don't. That is, in the minds of ADWEB execs, IT can't keep up unless they have a rapid prototyping and development tool kit.
This is what ADWEB, with Intranet DASHBOARD, aimed to deliver. iD is used to create intranets and extranets, which using centralized management facilities, can control user permissions and content-centric intranet applications across the enterprise.
The bundled applications include document management, meeting room booking, project workspaces, forms management, digital assets library – in fact, over 40 applications in all. Using iD, intranets can be built using a browser-based tool set that enables you to drag and drop intranet components onto a layout, arrange them as required and publish when ready.
Hierarchical administration enables departmental administrators, as well as users outside the IT department, to make their own changes.
The core functionality of iD includes sub-sites, users and iD’s multi-tiered security system. Sub-sites and Users are two completely separate entities, each with their own unique set of properties that dictate the way content is presented and shared within iD.
Intranet DASHBOARD: the iD platform and all external software and hardware requirements.The diagram represents the way the entire environment interacts and does not show a hierarchical structure.
iD’s security system blankets the entire platform, including the new iD API and any integrated third-party applications like SharePoint or internal HR systems. These three elements determine the ‘shape’ of the intranet, and how it functions.
As indicated, the iD API comes bundled with the platform. Any new applications or components created using the iD API also reside completely within iD, as an extension to the existing functionality. Content from iD API apps can be stored in either Persisted File Storage or the App Database Schema.
iD’s Enterprise Search engine is designed to search iD Content Storage, the storage system for all content created within iD using the existing suite of business applications. The environment referenced in the diagram relates to the minimum server software required to successfully install iD. The entire installation can sit on either a physical server or a virtual machine.
iD’s functional domains can be divided into four groups with about ten different apps each:
- Business Apps
- Communications Apps
- Content Apps
- Engagement Apps
Intranet DASHBOARD - Add-on Apps by Category
In total customers have access to more than 40 iD platform applications, all of which we clearly can’t assess in this review. So, let’s have a look at some that we consider of primary interest.
iD comes out of the box as a kind of WYSIWYG Web CMS that allows for front-end inline creation and editing of web pages supported by a drag-and-drop interface.
iD Web CMS Functionality
The Web CMS functionality is based on components and governed by templates, and multiple levels of security and publishing rights that include editing, viewing, deleting, creating and approving.
Publishing and approval rights can be customized on a per page, per folder or per sub-site basis. In iD, CMS full control can be given to all users to publish on specific pages.
iD Web CMS Template selection
Intranet DASHBOARD Wikis
Let’s look at how iD CMS can be configured as a wiki -- where end users can create, edit and link between pages online. The iD wiki, which is also powered by the iD CMS application, gives users the power to contribute and collaborate directly on pages, enabling them to publish and edit content in accordance with the permissions they have been given.
To do that and to demonstrate the ease of use let’s take a quick step-by-step look:
Step 1: Go to 'My Tools' in the top left hand corner of the page as seen below:
This toolbar provides users with several options for creating, editing and saving content in your Wiki. Depending on your content creation rights, you will now be offered a range of editing options:
Step 2: Select 'Live'
Editing a 'live' version means enabling users make changes to the content.