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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Some Comments on Enterprise 2.0 and Intranets

With the adoption of Web 2.0 applications and technologies within an enterprise context (Enterprise 2.0), the old intranet sites will be replaced by or transform into a network of hyperlinked resources that connect people as well as content resources with each other. The enterprise portal serves as the entry point and provides enterprise users with a single gateway to wikis, blogs, web based productivity tools, collaboration and communication tools as well as to enterprise applications and content sources. Although all applications are not executed and all content is not displayed within the context of the enterprise portal, all the resources that are available to the employees can be found via the portal.


One important aspect of Enterprise 2.0 applications such as wikis and blogs is that they can help to bring hidden but often valuable content up to the surface, content assets that otherwise probably would be forgotten and then be recreated instead of being found and (re)used. With blogs and wikis, these content assets are being brought up to the surface by the people who need and uses it - and who is better suited to know and decide what content is valuable or not than the users?

Furthermore, with the introduction of social software, the intranet can become a more efficient and dynamic environment for communication, collaboration and knowledge exchange. Instead of just being able to find and access content resources and applications via the enterprise portal and its connected resources such as wikis and blogs, the user can find and connect with the people that might possess the information or knowledge that the user is looking for.

Traditionally, when developing intranet sites, a lot of effort and focus is also put on creating a structure for organizing all content resources that are to be made available on the intranet site. The goal is often to define and design an information architecture in which basically everything can fit, existing content as well as content to be produced in the future. This is often an overwhelming, if not even impossible task - if the goal is to organize all content. In addition, such a static structure might work for content resources that are related to formal processes that almost always are carried out in the same way. However, a lot of the work that is being done within an enterprise is actually dynamic, instant and occurring only once in the exact same way. The information you need and the path you take to find it might be different from time to time, even for the same activity. The hypertext navigation model where users can navigate based on semantic relationships between content supports - in combination with search and social bookmarking - this way of working much better than the predefined hierarchical navigation systems that usually dominate on an intranet site. They are still needed, but they are not suited for all tasks or needs.

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