Intranet professionals that gathered in New York City for the first Intranet Global Forum in November 2011 were given a rare treat: a glimpse at some of the world’s leading intranets.

Highlights of the forum include a firsthand look at IBM’s new intranet design, Verizon’s evolution into a social intranet and PepsiCo’s revolutionary internal video library.


IBM presented its new digital strategy, which guided a massive redesign of both its internal and external sites. Its goal: to create a single design system that merges the intranet and internet standards, incorporates reusable design patterns and evolves the design system through collaboration.

Verizon ventured into unknown territory and evolved its intranet into a social intranet by making gradual improvements in areas like collaboration and employee profiles. It also showcased a rewards system, intended to create “engagement through achievement” by rewarding employees who accomplish tasks in a variety of intranet applications.

PepsiCo presented its internal library of employee generated videos, including an overview of the video upload process and the technology that makes it all happen. The video library offers users impressive functionality including varied navigation options, personalization, predictive text search, ratings, and user commenting -- all of the functionality one would expect from YouTube.

Key Theme: Plan First, Design Later

Several key themes emerged at the conference: the importance of defining business requirements, developing a plan and strategy, and following a proven methodology. Though speakers presented on a wide range of topics, from how to create a social intranet to how to pick the right intranet technology, the following credence remained true: plan first, design later.

This idea was echoed by several presenters. Toby Ward and Carmine Porco of Prescient Digital Media showed that an intranet design must be built on solid information architecture by asking attendees to conduct a card sort activity and create an accompanying wireframe. The exercise revealed the challenges of reaching consensus in a group, accounting for new and existing users, and breaking down institutional silos when planning for design.

Rebecca Rodgers of Step Two Designs showed attendees how to avoid common pitfalls and issues, manage internal politics and opinions, and design an intranet that employees want to use. She explained the importance of understanding staff needs and leveraging existing metrics before the design process even begins, and debunked a few intranet redesign myths along the way.

IBM put principle into practice by following a clearly defined plan to ensure their internal and external sites were based on the same design principles. At a high level, their redesign was supported by the following plan:

  • Redesign w3 and so that they clearly communicate IBM and IBMers at their best.
  • Help users get a sense of who IBM is and what IBM does. Design a new digital experience for that looks, sounds, thinks and performs like IBM.
  • Infuse IBMers into the presentation. Introduce IBM experts, innovators, collaborators across the web, both internally and externally (.com and external web).
  • Encourage behaviors that support the workforce enablement strategy.

Other notable presentations included:

  • SharePoint & Social Media in the Workplace (KEYNOTE) -- Toby Ward, Prescient Digital Media
  • The Best Intranets in Europe (KEYNOTE) -- Kurt Sorensen, CEO, IntraTeam
  • Selling Social Media to Target Audiences in Your Organization -- Shel Holtz, CEO, Holtz Communications + Technology

Missed the conference? Watch the webinar

Join us for a webinar on November 29, 2011 for a behind-the-scenes look at the best intranets from the Intranet Global Forum. Learn how organizations like IBM, Cisco, Pepsi, Verizon and others turned their intranets into world class business systems and the process underlying their success.

About Intranet Global Forum

The Intranet Global Forum 2011 is the only dedicated conference on intranets in the United States with a specialized focus on the design, governance and management of enterprise intranets. The first Intranet Global Forum took place in New York City in November 2011.

Join the Intranet Global Forum LinkedIn Group to discuss future conferences with other attendees.