It's interesting to read that so little progress has been made on the Intranet front in the last three years. Bill Ive's post on his Portals and KM blog, Usability of Intranet Portals - A Report from the Trenches, is where I found the link to the Report from Nielsen Norman Group, which is downloadable.
Some of the continued issue areas: (my shorthand and (comments) below)
- Usability out of the box is lacking (makes me wonder what solutions they're looking at)
- Single sign-on is more dream than reality (doesn't have to be that way)
- Personaliztion is rare, (which is surprising given the tools available)
- Governance is stronger issue than before (isn't this what workflow and permissions addresses?)
- ROI is woefully underdocumented (because companies still don't work to define it prior to initiating projects)
Some of the new findings in the Report: (my shorthand below)
- You should really only have one portal as the enterprise access
- As time passes, stale portal content grows
- The complexity of portal software requires training for correct use
- User acceptance is key for success - and many portals are failing
- Emphasize only the most useful information to streamline use
- Portlets need a reason to exist (not just because they can)
- Shifting from purely informational aggregators to application organizers
Bill also shares some comments made by Mat Schwartz, who worked on the project, that I think you'll find interesting:
"He mentioned that one of the really interesting findings from the report was that some companies have backed off of personalization (one of the big buzzwords in the portal space) because users didn't always know what it was, how to use it, or care. Multiple sites mentioned having personalization features, but many report they are not being used much, the same with portlets. They found that less is more. At the same time, Mat said that they found that there is still a big need for the continued integration of business applications (via Web interfaces) into the portal, for everyone from customer service reps (customer-support tools) to executives (dashboards). There are remain many opportunities for organizations to study the way their employees work and build better portal tools to support those processes."
All in all, I think that companies need to work with vendors that deliver more than technology. Companies that deliver technology fully implemented and ready to use as part of the scope of the project can help companies ensure that they control scope, make an impact and deliver results.
I'll leave you with some thoughts to consider:
- Sometimes it's useful to have insight from outside the tunnel-vision of the company infrastructure to make a meaningful difference in a technology implementation.
- Defining the impact goals of a project and realizing them is critical.
- The mentality of "if we build it, they will come" was over-rated when it was conceived and should never be part of any project mentality.