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Portals News & Analysis

Forget ESNs, Give Me a Digital Workplace

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Experiencing dčjá vu?

If the title of this article sounds vaguely familiar, you would be right.

Laurence Hart's recent post, “Forget Intranets, Give Me an ESN,” deserved a rebuttal. And here it is.

Collaboration in the New Age of Intranets

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Intranets held such promise in the early days of the Internet. Then they became the butt of many a joke in the enterprise.

Q: Where does useful information go to die?
A: Our intranet.

But in the past two years we’ve seen an intranet resurgence, driven by the technology and the traction user experience has gained in the enterprise.

Why Choose? Mix and Match Tools to Fit Your Digital Workplace Needs

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Traditional intranets, dominated by top-down corporate communications, are seen as outdated, no longer fit for modern, networked organizations. ESNs, so their champions say, are the way of the future -- enabling conversation in a way that’s flexible and responsive, aligned with modern ways of doing business. 

But what the debate should really boil down to is what does it take to create a productive digital workplace?

Beware Red Herrings: Intranet vs. ESN is a Sham

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Should I replace my intranet with an Enterprise Social Network?

Internal communications departments have debated this question, as have ESN teams and intranet teams. Maybe they saw higher adoption and engagement on their ESN platform, or read success stories from their peers. Or maybe their tired intranet publishing platform is in desperate need of replacing.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

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When the Internet came along, optimism was at an all-time high. We thought we would solve all the problems of the world, possibilities were endless.

And granted, we solved many. We work much better today because of the innovations of the last 20 years. The scope of these improvements has been massive. However, one major problem still looms -- collaboration in the workplace. Seems like a no-brainer doesn't it? Everyone is connected, so it should be easy to work in unison, splitting tasks and having every specialist do their own thing.

"Should" is the keyword here.

Forget Intranets, Give Me an ESN

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We heard it all a decade ago: Intranets are the wave of the future. Intranets are a waste of resources. Intranets are valuable tools. Intranets need to be social. Intranets are dead.

The only thing that's true is that Intranets need to solve an actual problem. Many organizations wanted an Intranet to replicate a little of the Internet inside their organization. Very few asked why they needed one.

Endangered Species: The Corporate Intranet

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The very idea that we’re still doing old-fashioned, browser-based, news-publishing intranets in the mobile era is downright antiquated. They’re no different than rotary-dial phones. And they’re going the same direction as your old olive-drab rotary phone did -- and as a result of the same technologies.

The question facing intranets should be how internal collaboration and communication tools are going to evolve in the world of social, cloud and mobile -- and whether there’s any place left for the traditional intranet down the line. We shouldn’t be asking if enterprise social will replace the intranet, but rather how long the whole idea of a browser-based intranet portal really has left in the face of mobile apps and form factors (of which social is only one example).

You may not like the message. You may care a great deal for your intranet. You may be tied to it for professional, emotional or financial reasons. You may not see how your company could live without it. And I get it. Believe it or not, I envision, plan and build intranets in my day job. I’m close to this patient. But I know where it’s going.

Intranets or ESN? Why Not Both

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Do we have to choose between intranets and enterprise social networks (ESNs)?  Before we can tackle that question, let's take a brief look at Intranets and ESNs as they are being used today.

Are ESNs Just Intranets In New Clothing?

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The term "intranet" has been around for a relatively long time in technology-speak. And while it seems that every time an upstart comes on the scene people question the relevancy of the intranet, I've got something to tell you:

Intranets aren't going anywhere. 

Which Enterprise Social Network is Right for Your Intranet?

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Some managers may still view them with suspicion, but Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) are an increasingly common part of the modern workplace, and in cases, replacing intranets. The emergence of consumerized IT has lead employees to expect user-friendly systems that offer the UX and functionality they can find on the Web. A number of ESNs have stepped up to try and meet these needs.

For those thinking about investing in an ESN for the first time -- or who are fed up with their current one -- there’s a range of platforms to choose from. However, picking the right ESN for your organization is far from easy.

Different platforms cater for the needs of different kinds of businesses. The ESN appropriate for an international corporation will be very different to that required by a small company of 30 employees. Considering the scale this kind of investment can represent, choosing the right ESN for your company is therefore a serious responsibility.

The New Age of Intranets: Publishing and Content

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The evolution of intranets is happening even as you read this. Last month we took a look at the role planning and corporate communications play in this New Age of Intranets. Today we'll tackle content.

One of the great hassles with intranets is managing and updating content. It can kill what is an otherwise successful intranet. During the planning phase, clients will propose dozens of great ideas of what types of content to be shared. The hard part comes in with obtaining that content -- creating it, approving it, getting it posted -- on a regular basis.

Publishing is critical to the ongoing success of an intranet. When employees consistently see good, valuable and recent content, your site becomes sticky and you will achieve a better return on your intranet investment. Let's take a look at what this requires.

Plan for Migration Success with Search

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Migrating a website or an intranet to a new CMS or new information architecture comes with considerable challenges. Automated tools can support the process, but almost inevitably a great deal of discussion and work will need to take place around specific areas of the site. Having information management policies and strategies in place goes a long way in helping to define content quality, metadata and a taxonomy for the new site. Moving file shares and other repositories into a cloud storage and application environment such as Google Drive has emerged as another requirement.

Effective search will play a vital role in adoption if the migration results in any changes to the intranet structure, and will continue to do so until users have found their way around the information architecture (IA), new content types and repositories.

Open Source Jahia Raises $22.5M to Grow Enterprise Clients

Jahia is getting a $22.5 million cash infusion from Invus, a New York City-based investment firm, the Geneva, Switzerland-based open source content management system (CMS) vendor announced today.

The funds will help CEO Elie Auvray grow Jahia's customer base, especially in the enterprise space. Auvray told CMSWire the company plans to further develop its user experience platform to improve integration with third-party platforms — an apparent sign of more more technology partnerships to come.

Lose the Fat, Embrace Lean Portals

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In its recently published Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals, Gartner identified a number of trends.

Among the most important: the convergence of web content management (WCM) customer demands with lean portal functionality and social technologies. The concept of lean (as opposed to bloated) portals has gained traction recently, with lean portal vendors starting to work their way further up the Magic Quadrant.

Large vendors claim they can offer all the functionality an enterprise could want and more — what smaller vendors describe as "bloat." Lean vendors claim they can respond rapidly to changing business conditions and have enough functionality for any office or mobile worker.

Where's Marketing's Kevin Cochrane? Jahia Knows

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Remember Kevin Cochrane — the former CMO of Mindjet, the former CMO of Open Text and former vice president of digital marketing at Adobe? Guess where he’s just popped up — apparently just a day after leaving Mindjet? At open source Web Content Management (WCM) vendor Jahia.

As of today, Cochrane will sit on the board of Jahia. He will initially serve in an advisory capacity, although Jahia CEO Elie Auvray says that the role of advisor could grow as the company grows.

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