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Jumping on the web 2.0 for intranets bandwagon

I find it rather strange how many people I meet through my intranet work who are saying things like ‘oh we need blogs, we need a wiki too’ but don’t really seem to understand what they need them for.  Intranet Managers are often fighting a battle with intranet users and senior managers coming into work and saying ‘well last night my daughter introduced me to this blog thing on the internet and I want one’ etc.  Some people seem to be so wrapped up in the trend they aren’t clear what problem they are trying to solve.

In searching around for comment on this I was pleased to find many of my colleagues are also saying that web 2.0 tools are not necessarily the answer and we must understand the problem first.  As intranet managers and developers we have to be able to describe this need to the enthusiastic Senior managers and advocates in our organisation who really just want to launch the new toy and see what happens.

Toby Ward’s web site article Enterprise 2.0 vs. Intranet 2.0 clearly describes how intranet managers need to ensure their house is in order before jumping on the web 2.0 bandwagon;

“Is this important for your organization? Should you be embracing enterprise 2.0? Yes and no. Firstly, if you’re without a comprehensive communications plan, that includes a comprehensive intranet plan (intranet blueprint), that is well executed and managed, you have bigger priorities (this includes about 85% of all corporations)”

Using the right tools for the right job

James P. MacLennan short article is a useful review of one such challenge.  he talks about the the implementation of web 2.0 tools in his work and the need to define the differences between Announcements, Blogs, Discussion Forums and Wikis

Jane McConnell’s post Enterprise 2.0 – to be or not to be? Depends on how you approach it… has a great 5 step plan to help understand if you really need web 2.0 in your organisation.  In summary it’s all about …

  1. Understanding the users and organsational needs
  2. Defining the functions they require to support these needs (NOT the tools)
  3. Review what you already have – could it do the job just as well?
  4. If web.2.0 can help, start small and fast
  5. Integrate the tools well and communicate communicate

Jane also discusses the 3 question technology test, which again, in my view is great practical advice..

"These questions may also be a simple way to formulate the value of 2.0 when you need to explain/justify/prove ROI to senior management.
1. Does it let people perform an action  they could NOT do previously? (= new function)
2. Does it let people do something faster or cheaper than previously? (= easier to use, cheaper to implement and maintain)
3. Does it bring an added value? (= tangible or intangible benefits previously not attainable)"

This slightly challenges a previous blog entry here from Sam Marshall Web 2.0 inside your organisation – where to start?, who supports those organisations out there who are just trying the tools and seeing how they take off.  But hey, what are blogs about if it’s not to encourage debate….

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is DWG’s Managing Director for Member Services. In addition to heading up service delivery, she is responsible for member engagement, retention and growth. Nancy also sits on DWG’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.


  1. Nice post, Helen. You raise key questions. At my JMC breakfast in Paris 10 days ago (subject: Intranet 2.0) with 21 intranet managers, I raised the question of the approach I described and Sam Marshall’s reply. I showed both posts on the screen. The room split about 50/50 when I asked them which approach would work best in their organisation: my structured approach or Sam’s “laboratory approach”. This led to the inevitable discussion about corporate cultures and “the way we do things”. I do not believe that 2.0 can modify cultures dramatically, but that 2.0 tools and technologies are one way among others of transforming an enterprise into a “user centric” organisation. I mean user in the fullest sense: me in my business role, me as an employee, me on my career path, and so on.

  2. Glad to hear we’re both right Jane 😉
    Did you get any further insights into what factors matter most in determining which route to go? e.g. open culture, leadership style, IT literacy of users etc?

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