What can we expect to happen with our intranets in 2011? From the continued dominance of SharePoint to the low budgets set aside for intranet development, here are Toby's 5 intranet predictions for 2011.

1. SharePoint’s Continued Dominance

Ahhh SharePoint, you’re complex, but simple; you’re cheap, but expensive; you’re for intranets and websites; you’re everything to everyone.

No surprise then that SharePoint has been the dominant intranet platform for a good two years now (prior to 2008, there was no dominant platform, although, IBM WebSphere Portal has traditionally garnered more revenue dollars than SharePoint).

While SharePoint is still often used for department and team level document sharing and collaboration, more organizations are looking to use it as the enterprise intranet platform, as well as an external website (even partner extranets).

SharePoint’s market share will continue to increase, though not at the same pace of the past three years.

2. ‘Cloud’ Intranets

More and more companies will finally outsource their intranets to the cloud, many with SharePoint Online. Many CMS vendors are also following suit including Sitecore, Spring, Alfresco and many others.

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing its cloud services for almost two years and already has 17,000 customers representing 100 million users, according to the SharePoint Team Blog. It hopes, nay plans, to aggressively expand this impressive base in 2011.

Despite the promise to be in the market in the 2nd half of 2010, SharePoint Online is still a very thin, slimmed-down version of the old MOSS 2007/WSS3.0.

3. The Firewall Starts to Blur

Hosted intranets, now in the `cloud`, are nothing new;nor are outsourced applications and tools, particularly HR applications and self-service tools. As more and more sites and tools are outsourced to the cloud, the traditional firewall starts to change and morph to accommodate this amalgamation of applications and sites inside and outside the traditional firewall.

Some data and applications will likely never be outsourced by organizations with traditional views on data security and integrity, but even CRM, customer applications and data warehouses are outsourced.

The intranet has become the de facto or formal portal for providing access to all internal sites, systems and applications, and as such, IT departments have had to become more creative and conscious of the effects on security and the firewall. And let`s not forget social media: all those free tools that can be downloaded also represent serious threats to an organization`s network security.

Learning Opportunities

What’s on the intranet, and what’s in the cloud? Sometimes you won’t know the difference.

4. The Social Intranet Expands its Reach

The social intranet: integrated, widely available social media tools for all employees. While social media is now mainstream on the intranet, a social intranet is a far cry from a couple of wikis and a Yammer account. The social intranet is more than a collection of intranet 2.0 tools -- it’s an integrated package that elicits and promotes participation from all employees, and engages many of them as user publishers.

The vast majority of organizations are not yet there, but they are trying, if only halfheartedly. As is always the case with the poorer intranet sibling, the public facing Internet website investment surpasses the intranet investment.

However, intranet 2.0 is expanding rapidly: social media tools such as blogs, wikis and other vehicles have become mainstream and are present on 87% of organization intranets (organizations of all sizes that have at least one intranet 2.0 tool) according to the findings of the Intranet 2.0 Global Study of 525 participants, representing companies of all sizes from across the globe (source: www.PrescientDigital.com).

The social intranet is still in its infancy, but it’s ready to grow exponentially quicker than its 1.0 predecessor for those organizations willing to invest in the technology revolution that will transform enterprise communications and collaboration.

5. Small Budget, Few Resources

The intranet will continue to be a low spending priority for many organizations and CIOs, and intranet budgets will mostly remain static (which were already thread-bare after the collapse of markets in late 2008). Amazingly, some bloggers are promoting the opposite, but are clearly easily fooled by niche optimism.

Baseline`s IT Budget Outlook for 2011, based on interviews with CIOs, finds that only 27% of CIOs believe they will have bigger budgets than 2010 (and those few that are blessed with budget increases aren`t spending it on the intranet). Meanwhile, 38% of CIOs believe their budgets will actually decline.

The global outlook is better with 39% of organizations expecting an increase in IT budgets for 2011, according to Gartner; though the number is bolstered by higher than average numbers in Asia that help bolster lower numbers in Europe and North America.