Intranets in the spotlight!

It seems like there have been a lot and I mean A LOT of articles published about intranets recently. A lot of them have been very interesting, but a few in particular have caught my eye.

The first of these is "Closing the Gap between Intranets and Websites" in this article the author looks at how intranets are beginning to push the boundaries of design. This is demonstrated by the latest Intranet Innovation Awards and the cutting edge design used in some of the winning entries. There really are some very interesting designs demonstrated in this article and if you're an intranet manager looking to update your intranet, then it's well worth reviewing these.

Another article on Intranet design published recently is "Intranet Visual Design: Does Your Intranet Need To Be Pretty?" In this article, the author consider how important it is for your intranet to be "pretty". I wont ruin your enjoyment of the article by saying whether intranets should be pretty or not, but suffice to say I believe visual design is an important element of any intranet.

Two recently published articles from the the CMS wire website look at some emerging trends in intranets. The first of these "Social Intranets, the Lemming Curve and 'Down With People'" discusses whether social intranets are designed primarily to support collaboration and discussions between individuals or whether they're designed to support the work that individuals do, to make them more efficient. You could argue that social intranets are actually designed to support both people and the work they can do. In fact I think it's important not to get too obsessed with your social intranet only serving one particular purpose. I'm certain most intranet managers will agree that intranets actually server a number of very distinct purposes.

The last and perhaps most interesting article is one called "What's the hottest trend in intranets" which looks at the concept of ICE. Intranet, Community and Extranet and how the hottest trend in intranets is to deliver these three elements on the same platform. As the article outlines combined the ICE elements provide "provide holistic engagement, reduce development and software costs, and simplify user experience for employees and customers alike." Whilst it might seem odd to incorporate all of these elements within an intranet, the author explains why it make sense to do so.

Your intranet is one facet of an overall collaboration platform that extends through and beyond the walls of your offices. Organizations should evaluate their technology and software based on its ability to manage all three types of “ICE” sites using a common set of tools, shared content repositories and infrastructure.
I like how the intranet is described as a "facet" of business collaboration and as providing effective solutions for employees. That should certainly be the aim for ALL intranet managers, but it's not easy to accomplish. If you're interested in an introduction to some of the concepts that you should aim to introduce into an existing or new intranet then this article is well worth reading.

So it has been quite a couple of months for intranets, lets hope 2014 continues in the same way.

Social media in the spotlight

The September 2013 issue of the CILIP Update has not one but two interesting feature articles on Social Media. The second of these two articles is called @NSPCCpro and looks at the challenges faced by the Information Services Team at NSPCC as they set out to create a Twitter account.

The first thing to say is that this Twitter account is seperate from the main NSPCC Twitter account and is designed to published current awareness on child protection. There were a number of reasons why the information services team decided to open a Twitter account, which include the immediacy of Twitter, the potential reach and the opportunity for the information services team to be more interactive and build up a network of followers with similar interests.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the article are the lessons that the Information Services Team learnt during the course of their (ongoing) Twitter journey. I've picked out some of these as there are quite a few:

  • If you make a mistake, learn from it, but let it go. The brevity and immediacy of the medium means tweeters forgive and forget quickly
  • Don't stay silent too long - you have to tweet to be seen and an idle account will not attract new followers
  • Sometimes news breaks first on Twitter making this a good place for finding as well as sharing informatio
  • Actively searching for tweets and tweeters who are talking about your topic can help to find new followers and share knowledge
  • Tweet with added value - avoid cutting and pasting a headline and a link, try to make a tweet useful, accurate and interesting

Of these I think the last two points are very useful guidance to anyone considering joining Twitter or anyone who already has a Twitter account. Whilst retweeting is a great way to share content on Twitter, it's almost too easy to do, which means that a lot of content gets retweeted without any value added to it, or any explanation as to what it actually is, which might encourage someone to read it. The latter of these two points is also important and when you've just joined Twitter, searching for tweets and tweeters is a great way to find people to follow. Looking at other tweeters profile may also display other individuals you or your organisation might want to follow.

Overall this is a really interesting article, which is well worth reading if you're thinking about or even have a Twitter account.

The next article written by Megan Roberts looks at her experience of using Social Media from both a personal and professional experience. This reads a bit like a history of social media, but it's very interesting to read what value Megan gets from Twitter and of course there are some lessons learnt.

The first of these is to keep yourself up-to-date. I think this is extremely important to do. As Megan says "you become the a go-to-person and vital to the organisation. You want to be the one they turn to when they have these questions" Ultimately this makes you invaluable to the organisation, or as invaluable as you can be!  The next lesson learnt is an important one and easy one to do and that is to "dip your toe into the world of social media" Yes it can be a bit scary but as Megan says "you messing up on social media is unlikely to end up as catastrophic event" basically there is no reason why you shouldn't give it a go.

One final point from Megan's article that I liked was that you need to be flexible. Megan talks about how she has often done things that wouldn't be considered typical librarian/information roles. But importantly she has acquired skills that have been beneficial later in her career. I think this is a really important point and could apply to anyone within an organisation, not just an information professional.

So two really great articles on social media, which if you're a CILIP member are well worth reading.

[Photo credit - Spotlights from Flickr]