Findings from this year’s Jacob Nielsen’s annual report, ‘The 10 Best Intranets 2010’, show that intranets are becoming a higher priority for organisations and intranet teams are growing in size.

Findings from this year’s Jacob Nielsen’s annual report, ‘The 10 Best Intranets 2010’, show that intranets are becoming a higher priority for organisations and intranet teams are growing in size.  The best of them are embracing new trends such as user / employee contributed content and offering ever more sophisticated social networking features as well as adopting a process of continuous quality improvement for improved user experience.

Interact’s commitment to the continuous development of Interact ensures that we consistently offer our clients product improvements and cutting edge new features enabling them to keep abreast of the latest developments and best practices within the field.

Social Networking features continue to be an important element within the winning intranets.  The Reports states:

As was the case in the 2009 report, social features were common on the winning intranets.  Most strikingly, there are two levels of social networking on intranets:

  • Social features for employees as individuals
  • Workgroup support and other features that encourage work-related connections

Interact 4 continues to lead the field in providing users with social features for individuals and groups, from microblog posts in the ‘what are you doing now’ vein,  to providing a collaborative platform for project work and sharing best practices amongst teams and workgroups via blogging, discussion and the ability for users to add comments and ratings to intranet content.

Interact 4’s document comments facility is just one way in which Interact is embracing Enterprise 2.0 technologies.  Comments enable contextual and simplified information exchange and collaboration across the workforce.   Conversations are built upon comments going back and forth and branching out in new directions.  Users can join in the comments on blog posts, documents and articles and are liberated from the constraints of legacy communication and productivity tools like email.

Allowing staff members to have their say, put forward ideas, views and opinions improves people’s work ethic by providing them with a voice or an opinion about their company.  It also increases efficiency by providing a real time response to any questions or queries.  Most importantly, it gives organisations a platform to capture new ideas and gain a competitive advantage.

One of the winning intranets, The Mitre Corporation, has an ‘Expertise Finder’ feature, which helps users locate co-workers who have specific knowledge.   User profiles in Interact 4’s staff directory include a section where users can list their areas of expertise.  These contribute to an easily searchable ‘skills database’ making it easy to find colleagues with particular skills and experience.

In fact, Interact 4’s staff profiles pages contain much more information than the typical run-of-the-mill staff directory listing usually found on intranets.  As well as listing users’ skills, they include personal details, calendars, as well as interests and hobbies, promoting online communities that build connections between users in a more open and accessible way than simple e-mail.

Intranet blogs are a continuing trend on the best intranets but content is evolving; the Nielsen report states that:

Such blogs were again strong this year, but included enhanced features to show executives with a “human face” and help make them more approachable. On Walmart’s intranet, for example, the executive profiles go beyond work experience to highlight personal experiences and interests

Interact 4’s blogging tool allows you to give your senior management the platform they need to engage employees, share ideas and ‘walk the floor’ and communicate business aims, strategy and objectives of the organisation.   However, many Interact users don’t restrict blogging to a handful of senior executive, increasingly blogs are used by employees at all levels in organisations to share best practice, and collaborate effectively.  For example:

  • Company experts from different areas of the organisation can write about their approaches and share knowledge.
  • Project Teams can record and communicate the progress of a project and allow easy sharing of information between team members.
  • Sales people can capture competitive insights from customers and prospects and share it with the organisation.

Another finding of the Nielsen report was that several of the winning intranet teams:

“took explicit steps to manage design change and encourage users to try out new and improved features. For example, many teams conducted extensive user research before deciding on their design direction.  This definitely keeps teams focused on user needs and lowers the risk of releasing something that people will resist. If you get bad feedback, at least you get it before launch, giving you time to overcome employees’ objections. Besides the actual feedback, usability studies serve a second function as an explicit signal of the team’s willingness to listen. Research is one way to engage stakeholders and let them know you care.”

Whilst recognising the importance of good intranet design, not all organisations have the resources available to invest in time consuming research and in-depth usability studies of their intranets.  (The average company size of the winning intranets in the Nielsen report is 6,350 employees with an average intranet team size of 14 people).   Outsourcing this service is often a much more practical option for some companies.  Interact offers a comprehensive range of intranet consultancy services combining expert analysis, advice and recommendations to help clients develop and implement user centric, strategic intranet as well as advising on internal marketing campaigns to help promote early uptake.

Overall, Nielsen comes to the conclusion that intranet design is maturing and that in many respects the Intranet has come of age.  The report predicts that in the coming year intranets will change even more with social networking features continuing to evolve and continuous quality improvements ensuring that intranet design becomes ever more refined.

We remain committed to investing in continuous quality improvements for Interact and our product development team is working on a number of exciting new developments for Interact over the coming months to ensure that our clients’ intranets continue to offer all the features found in the world’s best intranets.

About Interact Intranet
Interact is a versatile, fully secure Intranet which can be quickly and easily updated by non technical users.  It seamlessly integrates with other IT applications providing a single one-stop portal for business processes and information such as staff details, news and procedures.

The core software comprises a sophisticated range of built-in applications and contains all the features you need for a powerful and flexible strategic intranet which promotes collaboration and communication.  A range of sophisticated additional plug-in business software is available to suit key business processes.

The latest version of the software, Interact 4, has been developed to take advantage of the latest technologies as used by websites like Facebook and Amazon. Its unique Intelligence Store logs information such as browsing routes, search entries, documents ratings and hits and uses this information to promote content to users. It automatically creates links to other information such as articles, discussions, events and people so that each piece of information is not isolated, but is part of a greater whole – the intranet information store. The more the intranet is used and the more content is added the more powerful and effective it becomes.

About Interact
Founded in 1996, Interact is one of the UK’s longest established web development companies.  Based in Altrincham, Cheshire, the company specialises in providing the UK’s leading out-of-the box intranet solution, Interact.

With over a decade of experience Interact has built a solid reputation for both product excellence and outstanding customer service.  Organisations using Interact report improved efficiency, greater productivity, increased staff commitment, better decision making and cost savings.  Interact is used by over 150,000 people across a diverse range of clients in both the private and public sectors including HMV, Waterstone’s, Chelsea Football Club, Tyco ADT, Tradeteam DHL, Amicus, CLIC Sargent, Calor as well as NHS and social housing organisations.