20 July 2010

Why traditional intranets fail today’s knowledge workers

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Oscar Berg reflects on the changing role of intranets in knowledge-intensive businesses.

“These intranets need to provide flexible access to both information and people by employing pull models for serving as many knowledge worker information needs as possible, including unanticipated information needs. Information supply needs to be maximized by supporting the creation and access to user-generated content as well as by allowing for easy integration of external information sources. The intranet needs to be turned into an “information broker platform” where information is freely and easily created, aggregated, shared, found and discovered at minimal effort. Such an intranet gives everybody access to all information which is available and make room for virtually infinite amounts of information.

However, most of today’s intranets primarily consist of pre-produced information resources which are intended to serve information needs which can be anticipated in advance. They aim to serve people who perform predefined and repeatable tasks. These intranets are push platforms. As such they might work well for repeatable routine work where the information needs can be defined in advanced, but they are quite dysfunctional for knowledge work. It’s not a coincidence that many knowledge workers find it much easier to find information on the web than in their internal systems and that the intranet plays a marginal role in their daily work.”

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