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Intranets: “Explore without being overwhelmed”

Website customers have become spoiled. What we mean by this relates to the aftermath of web 2.0 applications built by tech giants like Amazon and Pandora who have taken user functionality to unheard of proportions.

The ability to customize searches, wish lists and alter product screens according to your unique online behavior are key features of the web 2.0 revolution.

Users (or consumers) have become empowered by all these personalization features.  This is now influencing how Intranets are being constructed and deployed for your Small Business.

In the beginning Intranets were built to manage ‘transactions’ not ‘spoil’ users with targeted, customized feature sets. They were largely a verbose, technical platform with lots of power but were by no means user friendly.

But, in the last few years Intranets are gaining traction in Small Businesses as well as Enterprises. And, the reason for this is because they are becoming easier and more fun to use.

Sites like Delicious, an example of social bookmarking, are a huge influence in new Intranet design.  Delicious users become part of a collective social experience that makes them feel as if they belong to something bigger than themselves.    It’s highly addictive AND rewarding in many cases offering more value than a Google search.

You can save the bookmark for later and it’s retrievable from any web browser. You can literally save 1000s of them.   You can even explore other user bookmarks by searching for the way they have been tagged. This tagging system is also prominent in blogging systems such as WordPress.  Many small businesses have also learned to share content on Delicious because it aids SEO rankings with valuable backlinks – when done correctly!

Tagging helps define a broader revolution called the ‘semantic web’, which allows a user to learn from other others by sharing bookmarks and categorizing content.

And, this tagging/bookmarking system is now being copied inside powerful Intranet systems like SharePoint Server.   Essentially Intranets are becoming simpler and more fun to use in the same vein as WordPress and Delicious.

Explore without being overwhelmed,” said the Burton Group Catalyst.  This is effectively what Intranet developers are working hard to accomplish in the private domain for both Small Businesses and larger Enterprise systems.

In many cases these Intranets are free too, which makes the whole experience even more rewarding when a small company decides to unite staff in multiple locations under one private collaboration umbrella.

One final point: As SMBs embrace these new powerful intranets they can also track staff usage. This helps define new patterns of behavior, which may even give them some competitive advantage in the marketplace. Information, after all, is Power!

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