The changing shape of modern intranets

I talk a lot about the five pillars of enterprise intranets:Content, Communication, Collaboration, People and Process; in the past our Hadron 8020 enterprise intranet portal has attempted to serve all those needs and act as the one place that users can go to carry out the organisational activities based on the way these five pillars interact. However times are changing, Microsoft have evolved their technology and, in the process made the overall technology landscape more complex and fragmented; this is beginning to have a knock-on effect on what’s needed from Hadron and other modern intranets. We’ve already split out the business intelligence element that used to be within 8020 into its own portal (Meson BI) and increasingly we view intranet activities is being supported by a range of technologies, typified by the Office 365 stack:

With Microsoft pushing SharePoint down this table and somewhat into the background to become more of a  platform technology and with no easy way to integrate all the “Experiences” that Microsoft like to talk about, we are having to think hard about what the next generation of Hadron  and other enterprise intranets might involve.

I have long held that there is a limit to the number of things that people can hold in their head at one time (neuroscience tells us this is five for most people) and within Hadron 8020 we tried to provide a structure and navigation best and only five kinds of places which people need to go to in order to find, save or manage their content. In the same way we can anticipate five portals depending on what people want to do.

 

With Microsoft pushing SharePoint down this table and somewhat into the background as a platform technology and with no easy way to integrate all the “Experiences” that Microsoft like to talk about, we are thinking hard about what the next generation of enterprise intranets and Hadron in particular might involve.

I have long held that there is a limit to the number of things that people can hold in their head at one time (neuroscience tells us this is five for most people) and within Hadron 8020 we tried to provide a structure and navigation best and only five kinds of places which people need to go to to find, save or manage their content, do their tasks, read their comms etc. In the same way we can anticipate users being able to manage up five different portals, depending on what they want to do.

So my thinking is gravitating towards a limited number of differing portals for different core activities: Hadron 8020 will evolve around Content, Communication and Collaboration; we are just launching our Hadron Connect portal which focuses on the People pillar; Meson gives us a portal for business intelligence insights, management and action; Flowforma gives us the potential to develop an activities and processes based portal. Cognitively, we have room for one more portal… Each of these can take advantage of the breadth of technologies, this simplifies the user experience by focusing on a user centric activity rather than the technology required.

It’s going to be important to ensure that these different portal experiences work well on the types of device people are using in the few years ahead, which means both massive collaborative screens and personal mobile devices and smart phones as well as the traditional desktop PC.

It’s going to be important to ensure that these different portal experiences work well on the types of device people are using in the few years ahead, which means both massive collaborative screens and personal mobile devices and smart phones as well as the traditional desktop PC. 

So rather than our “One ring to rule them all” approach, with one central place for ‘all you stuff’ our thinking has evolved. A small number of dedicated portal acting as the place to do particular business activities, presenting the tools and materials most needed for those activities; with a consistent user interface and links to each other seems to extend the current use of intranets to a wider yet more focused business context, delivering further gains in business productivity. 

There is certainly more to come. People work on a broader variety of tasks in a wider range of locations and environments through an increasing number of devices. In the background the devices and services are getting smarter, prompting is for more and guessing what we need with artificial prescience that would have bordered on witchcraft 50 years ago. The tide of knowledge, information and data rises higher with each passing year and we need to evolve our tools for dealing with that to ensure organisational efficiency and competitiveness while protecting the limits of our minds.


About the Author: 
Simon Hudson is an entrepreneur and health sector specialist. He formed Cloud2 in 2008 following a rich career in the international medical device industry and the IT industry. Simon’s background encompasses quality assurance, medical device development, international training, business intelligence and international marketing and health related information and technology. Simon created Cloud2, with colleague and co-director, Taran Sohal, in response to an evident need the NHS has for a partner committed to helping them deliver successful projects based on Microsoft SharePoint. Simon has had a rich career spanning both the UK and the international health industry, with roles that have included quality system auditing, medical device development, international training (advanced wound management) and international marketing. Upon joining ioko in 2004 he created the Carelink division and, as General Manager, drove it to become a multi million pound business in its own right. 
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