The new global agenda is on everyone's lips. Any organisation that follows the simple rule, that there are no rules, will make the most of their Web presence. However, world-wide though it is, the Web's greatest benefits are available from within an organisation - through an Intranet.
Companies can so easily and cost effectively place their Intranet at the very heart of their company, its activities and its people. It can be used to reflect a new awareness of information, culture and openness. It can also save you a fortune in updating and reprinting stationery.
In short, Intranets can be used for much more than just passive information. I visited an organisation last month which has really captured and released the essence of an active Intranet, and was using it in several innovative ways:
Open access to information
Most information in a company is neither sensitive nor confidential. Everyone in a company should know how to obtain any piece of information - and this can be requested online.
Clearly if an answer is company-sensitive, or relates to a person's confidential information, it would not be available, but most information should be available to all. A truly open company will provide such access. An Intranet takes away the last excuse of the dinosaurs.
Job advertising and skill/CV database
Many Intranets are used for job adverts, but how many are being used to record people's skills, updated by the people themselves? This is a hugely empowering use of an Intranet, and the company I visited is just about to travel one stage further - it will encourage everyone to keep their CVs online. Access would be restricted to managers considering job applications.
The usual suspects - and more
I would encourage everyone to go beyond the health and safety/human resources manual online and encourage access to additional information such as how to train in first aid, answers to tough interview questions and encouraging teams to keep their own journals/project plans online, with access for all. Do this, and the great mystery of how projects are managed and how they are progressing is removed forever.
Customer service/help desk monitoring
IT departments that take service seriously and place it at the heart of their operations will provide information on help desk calls and progress.
Alongside promised service levels will be actual performance. This service can be interlinked with an alarm system warning of an all company problem or mission-critical failure.
All IT leaders talk about business alignment, and Intranets deliver in spades. Ask your business and IT peers and leaders, indeed ask everyone, what would add value to their lives.
The Internet started off with information, then moved to communication. Combine these two, and add some of the ideas your people already have, and you will move to the third and fourth wave before your competitors - wisdom, and a truly connected company.