Do intranet managers need to be technology gurus?

A while ago I read a post on LinkedIn asking whether intranet managers need to be truly technology savvy. Sadly I cant find the post anymore, but it got me thinking about whether intranet managers need to REALLY understand technologies and be truly technology savvy and take a hands on approach to their intranet. Or whether they just have to have an understanding of technology and need to be hands off and have a more strategic role.

Intranet managers need to be hands on!

To truly understand the intranet you're managing surely you need to be immmersed in it on a daily basis? There is a good argument that says an intranet manager should be the central point for ALL content additions and changes. If this is the case then all content can be checked for quality and any errors corrected before they appear on the intranet. The intranet manager then knows where every single piece of information resides on the intranet right, how valuable is it having an intranet manager now?

Intranet managers need to be hands off!

One of the arguments against intranet managers spending their days continually editing intranet pages is that the individuals who understand the content and therefore how it should be displayed are the people in the departments or offices who use it on a regular basis. In my mind there is absolutely no point in an intranet manager publishing content for another office, because they don't work in that office. So they don't understand how the office works and how the content that is being published helps people working there. Whilst you might think that managing an intranet would mean a lot of editing of content, in reality for intranet managers it doesn't. Yes developing a content strategy is an important part of an intranet managers role, alongside other tasks like, managing the technology, establishing a good intranet team, enhancing collaboration, managing ongoing projects, marketing the intranet and continually enhancing the user experience.

It depends on your role

I believe a lot of the day to day work intranet managers undertake will depend on the type of role they have. If they're managing a team then their role is going to differ significantly from someone who is working on their own to manage and develop an intranet. If you're lucky enough to be working in an organisation that has a large intranet team, then you're likely to have delegated content ownership either to the team or to the wider organisation. If this is the case then the intranet manager will be focused on managing ongoing projects that help improve the intranet.

It also depends on the technology you're using

If you have an intuitive content management system that individual editors are able to use with very little or no guidance from an intranet manager then your role is going to be significantly different from an intranet manager who is having to hand write HTML code, or struggle with a less efficient method of publishing content to their intranet.

There are a lot of factors that have to be taken into account before you can say YES an intranet manager has to be technology savvy. What I will say is this, in the early years of an intranet managers career it's important to use and understand as many content management systems and web based tools as possible. So they they have a broad understanding of the intranet solution market and the different tools that are available. As careers advance it's less likely that an intranet manager will be as hands on. I appreciate this isn't eloquently written, so if you're looking for more background on this subject, why not have a look at some of the links below.

[Photo credit - Hand in Hand from Flickr]