Are Local Authority Intranets lacking external benchmarking?

A short post really, but it had occurred to me that one of the biggest opportunities for cost savings within organisations is the intranet.

However in the local government world – perhaps even the wider public sector, i would guess that nearly all of them lack any real interaction, functionality, transaction etc. Compared to the level of external benchmarking and rating that our public sites go through it is no wonder that intranets are probably still in 1996.

Maybe what we need is and i’m not sure how we would facilitate this at the moment but if we could at least be subjected to a similar style benchmarking exercise to Better Connected (Socitm). If this could happen then i believe that councils might be more inclined to drive forward the intranet to offer the kind of business value it promises.

I will post again in the new year as i think we also need to understand what we all mean by Intranet. In my experience the Intranet can be anything from just an internal website with information to pretty much the whole of the desktop aswell.

To me the intranet is now just part of what many people are referring to as Enterprise 2.0 – however i think this needs some explanation as well.

In the meantime, If you know of any really dynamic intranet sites in the public sector i’d be keen to hear the story.


Enterprise Social Networks….does “social” put people off

Yesterday i attended a very interesting demo of some enterprise social networking software, the company who provided the demo is called blue kiwi. It was very slick, offered some very simple but effective functionality and works well with Sharepoint which is useful as we are going to be moving in that direction in the very near future.  BUT and i don’t like “buts”, it does create a problem for itself, by using the word “social”. I believe that there is a huge task ahead in terms of culture change to get the view that social networking is not something that was invented, it has been around since man/woman first grouped together, we are simply making it easier with technology.

(disclaimer – There are other companies who also provide these functions, if interested you could try google or wikipedia.)

I came to a conclusion that fundamentally corporate intranets should be exactly that – corporate social networks.   After all how much work gets done through social interaction, if you can provide a better, simpler and clearer mechanism to enable this to happen across a whole organisation then you (i believe) can increase productivity.

A few years ago my council created a programme document for the development of our corporate intranet, which was only taken to the first implementation phase (move into a Content Management System). It also contained some great context information about the non cash-able savings around reducing time staff spend searching for and asking questions which are common or repeat questions.

There are tools which do support this kind of function, knowledge bases, FAQ’s etc, but none of them offer or provide the social conversations that support them.  BUT this document was created only a little while after social networks were created on the wider Internet so no real attention was paid to them as offering business benefits or business functionality. There is still some debate about how social networking sites can really support business and in particular local government but for me the web has changed so much and so quickly that the wealth of information itself makes people want to share, create more and engage in conversations with people they were never able to speak to before the social web existed.

It does seem to me that social networking in a corporate environment makes so much sense that it in fact scares poeple to accept that it is a critical business tool.

I believe would could learn so much, just by dipping our toes in and piloting some tools. I believe that by connecting people in this kind of way, innovation, ideas and progress happens faster and more fluid.

I shall continue to raise awareness in this area within my council and will support any moves to pilot such approaches.  I can try and influence further by including this explicit functionality as part of a intranet strategy as well as linking to the devon online concept which enables us to start conversations with the public. That i believe will truely spark real business transformation.