Re: Intranets - Don't go there?

Subject: Re: Intranets - Don't go there?
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 08:04:00 -0600

I'll posit as a response to Arlen that companies who post intranets
and have nobody come are like people who build a better mousetrap and
then forget to publicize it. You have to TELL the folks that the
stuff is there, and you have to SHOW them how to use it!

I responded privately, but since there's more interest, I'll make one post
to toss a few notions out.

You need to do more than publicize it. "If you build it and show it, they
will come?" Yeah, right. You need to make sure that the various departments
are *willing* to have stuff put on it. Internal politics will kill an
intranet quickly. A corporate cilture made up of fiefdoms will sabotage it
every chance they get.

You need to be willing to get people involved at both extremes of the
company. Top management must buy in, but so must the line worker. If it's
there, but the average joe doesn't trust it (whether it's because he resents
it making public what he wanted to keep as his domain, or because he doesn't
see his immediate management placing any value on it, or even because it
might not be convenient for him to use) then it'll just gather dust.

Is its maintenance a high prioirty, or simply a task that gets done when
someone gets around to it? Let it languish even a little, and once again
people will stop using it.

The bottom line is that the results *aren't* guaranteed. I don't have a
dispute with the statement that an Intranet *can* pay for itself very
quickly. I think it's obvious that, given the right company culture and the
right implementation it can. The statement I'll argue with (and the one I
was responding to) is that they *will* pay for themselves quickly. I've seen
too many failures to believe that readily.

Think of introducing an intranet as a little like introducing email --
when you didn't have it, you didn't see how you'd use it. Once you
have it, you can't imagine life without it.

You know, we've had email here for a decade or more. It never got much use
until recently. For most of the time it's been present here, few would have
missed it had it been taken away. (There's still some of the management
types around here who don't use it, and instead get their secretary to print
out all their email and put it on their desk. One is legendary about the way
he replies to your email -- he will drop a printed copy of your email in the
office mail to you, or hand deliever it himself if it's urgent, with his
comments handwritten on it.) There's a culture that quickly takes to any new
capability that's given them, and there's a culture that won't use anything
new unless you give them an overwhelming reason to. Don't assume the entire
world is comletely made up of either one.


Have fun,
Arlen
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 224

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
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In God we trust; all others must provide data.
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Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.


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