The return of the intranet: old-school tech complements the cloud

The return of the intranet: old-school tech complements the cloud

Feb 28

111Way back when – well, as long ago as the late 1990s – before “the cloud” was a smudge on the digital horizon, corporate intranets were “the thing”. These internal networks offered the flexibility of online access to files, documents, images and so on to everyone within the company. As the cloud has developed, web-based document storage and project management tools such as Dropbox and Basecamp became the norm, condemning intranets to a dusty corner of legacy IT architecture.

But, like everything else in life, what goes around comes around, although usually with a fresh new outlook on the world around it. Take, for example, a small recruitment company. Based in the UK, it starts out with just a couple of employees and, through good management and a bit of luck, grows to around 40 staff. During that time the usual company policies have been created, expense sheets have come and gone, agenda and job description templates have been changed.

Filing nightmare

Being a reasonably progressive outfit, the company has used digital storage since it first started and has been reasonably careful about curating its online filing systems. However, with staff turnover and a continual increase in the number of documents being stored and shared, navigating the filing system to find the latest, most accurate or – in some cases – legally correct documents soon becomes a nightmare task.

Even with automated versioning available on many cloud-based storage and collaboration systems, it is not always clear which document is the final version. For smaller organisations, expenses forms are a prime example of this, where there may be different templates depending on the level of seniority or role within the company.

The complexity for our recruitment company becomes further compounded when the organisation goes global, with offices in Germany, Dubai, Singapore and New Zealand. Not only are there final documents, there may also be a number of versions in different languages, or that are country or region-specific. Often, while the original documents may be curated centrally, the regional versions are held and updated locally. In some cases, staff will resort to visiting the company website to see the latest published information and work backwards to help them locate the document or other content they are looking for.

Intranet 2.0

So, in the age of cloud, how do you know what is ‘true’ in a distributed environment? How do those people in charge of projects or knowledge management ensure consistent versioning and filtering of documents or project activity? Welcome back to intranet 2.0.

Today’s company intranets take the very best of the old tech and add it to the flexibility of the cloud. The result is an environment that remains internal, is centrally controlled and moderated where required, and offers sophisticated permissioning to ensure clarity of access to allow amendment of company or project-critical documents.

For example it can be more static and less dynamic, (so you are looking at the published version of the truth), there are human readable URLs (unlike cloud storage systems with unintelligible document references), you can extend the systems for workflow and automation easily and changes can be simply audited. In some ways it’s a step backwards to move forwards; maintaining control in an era when access to information and information overload is prevalent.

Taking the intranet one stage further, the extranet is also making a comeback. This retains the elements of control, but extends access to clients and suppliers. A perfect example is during a tender process. The ability for the purchaser to update briefing documents is balanced by potential suppliers being able to respond to changes and amend proposals accordingly, while maintaining complete privacy from competitors.

However, questions and answers that may have relevance for all potential bidders can be openly available to anyone given access to the extranet, safe in the knowledge that they will be viewing the very latest version of the information. In essence, the likes of Microsoft SharePoint or Google Sites creates a level playing field in this context.

While the cloud continues to scud across the IT skies at a rapid rate, it sometimes pays to take a look at what has gone before. Sometimes it pays to think old-school in a new age.

Vijf voorwaarden voor een succesvol sociaal intranet

Vijf voorwaarden voor een succesvol sociaal intranet

Oct 11

Voorkom een valse start met deze vijf basisvoorwaarden voor een succesvol intranet

Vijf voorwaarden voor een succesvol sociaal intranet

Veel organisaties hebben moeite met het goed omgaan met hun intranet, of dit nu aan de start van een nieuw traject of na lancering van het intranet is. Voorkom een valse start met deze vijf basisvoorwaarden.

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Intranet: omdat het moet…

Je kent het vast wel: het traditionele intranet. Hét speeltje van de afdeling communicatie, met het inmiddels allang digitaal verstofte ‘laatste nieuws’ van 7 maanden geleden. Misschien moet je zelfs wel werken met het bejubelde portal van je organisatie waar je – naast dat ‘laatste nieuws’ – ook heel veel handige links vindt naar de 101-systemen die je organisatie lang niet allemaal gebruikt.

Dát intranet dus, dáár moeten we het maar eens over hebben. Want de hiervoor geschetste situatie is voor veel organisaties helaas de realiteit. Intranet omdat het moet, noemen we dat bij Netvlies. En je weet: als iets moet, levert dat meestal niet veel enthousiasme op. Dus worden er nog steeds met veel bombarie intranetten gelanceerd, om vervolgens een stille dood te sterven. Met een veredelde startpagina waarop ook corporate communicatie wordt geplaatst, ga je het nu eenmaal niet redden.

Weg met de hiërarchie, leve de hiërarchie!

Tegelijkertijd neemt de vraag naar efficiëntere communicatie toe. We werken vanuit huis of op flexibele werkplekken binnen en buiten kantoor. En de nieuwe generatie medewerkers wil niets liever dan open communiceren. Maar het gekke is: terwijl we de hiërarchische structuren van ons afschudden, klampen we ons vaak juist vast aan oude, hiërarchische communicatiemiddelen. En dat is link. Want als een bedrijf zich niet aanpast aan de wensen van haar medewerkers, passen de medewerkers het bedrijf aan hun wensen aan. Gevolg: een wildgroei van externe applicaties die men gewend is te gebruiken, maar die niet zijn opgenomen in het ‘IT-landschap’ van de organisatie. Zo is voor niemand nog duidelijk wie waar precies mee bezig is. Niet zo efficiënt dus, ondanks alle goede bedoelingen.

Van ‘intranet omdat het moet’ naar geliefd communicatieplatform

Het klinkt misschien wat utopisch, maar je kunt van het intranet wel degelijk een geliefd centraal communicatieplatform binnen je organisatie maken. Het maakt daarbij niet uit of je 10 of 10.000 medewerkers hebt, de principes zijn hetzelfde.

Hieronder staan vijf belangrijke eisen voor een succesvol intranet. Voldoet je nieuwe pakket of maatwerkapplicatie hier niet aan, dan is de kans groot dat je binnenkort met veel bombarie de volgende digitale vergaarbak van de organisatie lanceert…

#1 Het intranet is relevant

Het intranet is relevant

Voorkom dat alle informatie lukraak wordt aangeboden. Toon je iedere gebruiker van het intranet precies dezelfde berichten, dan vergroot je de kans dat ze die berichten – en daarmee het intranet – negeren. Waarom? Eenheidsworst. Gebrek aan relevantie. En dus niet interessant. Een gebruiker dient enkel relevante informatie te zien. En wat relevant is, bepaalt hij of zij zelf.

Bijvoorbeeld door interesses actief aan te geven of door zich aan te sluiten bij de meest relevante groepen op het intranet. Denk maar eens aan een accountmanager die op de hoogte wil blijven van de ontwikkeling op de marketingafdeling, maar ook voorzitter is van de personeelsvereniging. Zo’n medewerker heeft heel andere interesses en informatiebehoeftes dan het hoofd van de financiële administratie die ook deels verantwoordelijk is voor de ICT-infrastructuur.

#2 Het intranet is van en voor iedereen

Het intranet is van en voor iedereen

Vergeet de intranetbeheerder. Want waarom zou je de mogelijkheid inperken om informatie op het intranet te plaatsen? Laat iedereen dat doen! Dat zorgt voor betrokkenheid door eigenaarschap. Door te communiceren in open groepen kan iedereen een bijdrage leveren.

#3 Het intranet is sociaal

Het intranet is sociaal

Laat gebruikers via het intranet communiceren zoals ze gewend zijn van social media. Bijna iedereen gebruikt tegenwoordig social media als Facebook, Twitter en LinkedIn om in contact te blijven met vrienden, familie en zakelijke relaties. Maar communicatie met collega’s gaat vaak nog via e-mail. Met een social intranet kun je de beste elementen van de social media integreren in het werkproces.

Door eenvoudig berichten, bestanden en video’s te kunnen plaatsen en te kunnen reageren met commentaar en ‘vind-ik-leuks’, stel je gebruikers in staat om op een vertrouwde, snelle manier te communiceren. Deze ogenschijnlijk speelse manier van communiceren zorgt voor efficiëntere interne communicatie, minder gebruik van e-mail in projectcommunicatie en minder vergaderingen.

#4 Het intranet is gekoppeld met je belangrijkste systemen

Het intranet is gekoppeld met je belangrijkste systemen

Zorg dat het intranet geen op zichzelf staand systeem is, maar integreer de belangrijkste systemen en applicaties in het intranet. Zo is de belangrijkste informatie eenvoudig en snel verkrijgbaar. Maak je koppelingen met het bestaande, vertrouwde document management systeem, Outlook of Google Mail en een CRM-systeem als Salesforce, dan zorg je ervoor dat het intranet een centrale rol in het dagelijks werkproces van medewerkers wordt.

#5 Het intranet is overal benaderbaar

Het intranet is overal benaderbaar

Zorg dat het intranet net zo mobiel is als de gebruikers. En niet alleen binnen de muren van het kantoor en op de oude, vertrouwde desktop, maar ook op laptop, tablet en smartphone. Alleen dán sluit het intranet aan op de wensen van de gebruikers.

Wil je hierover meer weten? Op 4 augustus organiseert Netvlies een webinar. Klik hier voor meer informatie.

Credits afbeelding: NCVO London, licentie: CC BY (Commercieel hergebruik, inclusief aanpassing)

Axionet’s Flagship Social Intranet Platform, Axcom, Introduces New and Innovative Features for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

Axionet’s Flagship Social Intranet Platform, Axcom, Introduces New and Innovative Features for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

Sep 30

Axionet has added new features to its enterprise social intranet, Axcom, to make internal communication easy in small and medium-sized businesses.

Axcom combines the best of social platforms with the security and structure of an enterprise intranet, helping better-connected organizations to make informed decisions. Organizations use Axcom to improve their internal communication, increase transparency across departments, and drive and measure employee engagement.

Christophe Pellier, CEO of Axionet notes, “When we created Axcom, we stuck to the idea of providing a simple tool whose deployment and parameters would require no technical knowhow. Furthermore, any development of features to answer a customer’s specific requirements would be included free of charge and then made available to our other customers.”

The Axcom social intranet platform contributes to employee productivity and therefore to the growth and success of your company. It is an internal platform that every employee can access with individually defined rights. The Axcom social intranet is much more than an information management system. It is a web platform that can change the way your organization does business and communicates internally. It is based on Microsoft SharePoint 2013, which enables unlimited numbers of users to collaborate on a day-to-day basis.

Key features of the Axcom intranet include a user-friendly design, a secured team room, booking of shared resources, advanced customization, community sites and a suite of administrative and analytics tools. Axcom’s social intranet platform also interfaces easily with ERPs and other enterprise systems.

The Axcom intranet offers a flexible way to license, deploy and customize, ensuring that your intranet runs instantly and can adapt quickly to changing needs.

Would you like more information about Axcom’s feature set and pricing? Would you like to have a free trial? Please visit www.axcomintranet.ch to discover how the Axcom intranet can help you reduce costs and improve productivity.

About Axionet

Axionet has its headquarters in the beautiful Riviera district of Vevey, Switzerland.

Axionet works relentlessly to deliver the best IT solutions for your business. It has expertise in banking, finance, securities, insurance (BFSI), manufacturing, telesales, food & retail, healthcare, transport and routing and logistics management.

Interact Honours Customer Success at Annual Intranet Excellence Awards Dinner 2015

Interact Honours Customer Success at Annual Intranet Excellence Awards Dinner 2015

Sep 19

Interact, the intelligent intranet software provider, honoured its customers’ achievements at the Intranet Excellence Awards 2015 on Wednesday evening. The annual event, held in London, recognises the successes of Interact’s customers from around the globe with a glittering awards dinner.

Nigel Danson, Interact CEO said, “The Intranet Excellence Awards are the highlight of the year for us. The programme gives us the opportunity to celebrate the fantastic achievements of our customers. It also highlights the positive impact a well-implemented, collaborative intranet has in enabling organisations to meet their objectives.”

The awards are split into four categories: Essential Intranet, Best Intranet Design and Brand, Best Intranet Launch and Intranet Success Story. These allow Interact customers, old and new, to share their achievements over the last twelve months.

And the winners are…

Essential Intranet

This category focuses on how critical an organisation’s intranet is to its business. Entrants were asked to detail why their intranet is an important everyday tool for employees across the board.

Essential Intranet Winner: Sport England

Sport England distributes funding to encourage participation in sport across the UK at all levels.  Its entry for this category embodied the Interact vision of an essential intranet, with 92% of employees contributing content across a range of Interact tools. The intranet, Inside Track, is an excellent example of effective communication, enterprise wide collaboration, efficient business processes, increased engagement of employees and, more broadly, the vehicle for all change in a rapidly growing and diverse organisation.

Intranet Success Story

This category gives customers the chance to share the part of their intranet project they are most proud of. Entrants were encouraged to highlight their successes, regardless of how big or small they were.

Intranet Success Story Winner: March of Dimes

March of Dimes, one of America’s largest non-profits, has used a large scale business transformation to introduce collaboration as an effective way of working across the organisation.

It introduced a ’30 Day Challenge’ to encourage all employees to try a new behaviour a day, such as “say hello online to one person you would not normally interact with” or “share one word which best describes the team you work with”. All these actions required less than five seconds to fulfil but built new collaborative behaviours which people have adopted, resulting in a 20% increase in user-generated content within a month.

Better still the levels of collaboration have increased even more since the end of the ’30 Day Challenge’.

March of Dimes is a fantastic success story of how to take collaboration beyond certain roles, locations and departments into a brave new world, where people comfortably collaborate with others they have most likely never worked with or even met before.

Best Intranet Launch

This category provides a platform for customers to share the success of their intranet launch or re-launch. Entrants were asked to share their plan and demonstrate measurable engagement post launch.

Best Intranet Launch Winner: Maxxam Analytics

Maxxam Analytics, a Canadian based data analytics organisation with 2,500 employees, wowed our judges with its entry for this award. Its approach to launching and then improving the site continuously is a fantastic example of data driven decision making which reflects Interact’s customer success methodology.

The results are staggering: the company has successfully started networking and collaborating across the organisation, built a series of tools to complete the most common tasks and provided instant, easy to find information for front line workers, managers and supervisors, resulting in a greater customer service.

Best Intranet Design and Brand

This category looks at the combination of beauty and function. Entrants were asked to show how the design and user experience of their intranet site encourages adoption as well as making it easy for users to locate relevant information.

Best Intranet Design and Brand Winner: Canterbury City Council

Canterbury City Council, a UK public sector body, has succeeded in designing a site and user journey the rest of the intranet industry will envy; it has taken a traditional culture and brought a whole new perspective with design and tone, seamlessly integrating everyday tools in a manner which is very easy to pick up and use.

The Interact Intranet Excellence Awards are held every year as part of Interaction, one of the intranet industry’s leading events in the UK and Europe. For more information on Interaction please visit http://www.intranetconference.com .

Notes to Editors

Interact Intranet

Interact Intranet is intelligent intranet software created by Interact. The flexible and scalable solution has more than 500,000 users and has revolutionised the way companies communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, and streamline internal processes. It has a unique Intelligence Store which logs information such as browsing routes, search entries, document ratings and hits and uses this information to promote content to users. Interact Intranet promotes a culture of collaboration and idea sharing by using corporate social networking and micro blogs. Non-technical users can quickly and easily update the intranet.

About Interact

Founded in 1996 with headquarters in the UK, Interact operates globally and is one of the fastest growing intranet software companies. Interact has built a strong reputation of delivering successful and collaborative intranet solutions to leading companies such as Florida Hospital Group, Arriva, G4S, Flight Centre and Make a Wish Foundation.

Enterprise Intranet 2.0: Intranet for the Facebook & WhatsApp Generation

Enterprise Intranet 2.0: Intranet for the Facebook & WhatsApp Generation

Aug 21

Intranet is the “home” of employees and getting employees engaged with company culture via intranets is a fundamental objective of enterprises. All over the world, enterprise-grade intranet portals are currently used in the digital workplace to improve synchronization, store corporate documents, policies and executive directives, and thus, bolster productivity. The right intranet portal can work wonders for your company, delivering tangible results and putting you in a firm position in this day and age of the digital workplace. Having an evolved and highly integrated intranet which focuses heavily on delivering a highly intuitive user experience can be a crucial part of the success of your business.

Is your organization’s Intranet geared up to meet the expectations of India’s Facebook and WhatsApp generation of employees?

Is your generationally diverse & geographically dispersed workforce connected to your Enterprise vision? 

If the answer is NO, then you should start looking how multiple media channels running on the back of improved mobility and influential social sharing are driving employee engagement in the current context and how Social Intranet platforms are crucial for managing the opinions and preferences of users for smart gains.

The phrase social intranet has only appeared in late 2009 to describe an intranet with social media features. A social intranet may feature blogs, wikis, user comments, social networking, or a combination of these or any other intranet 2.0 tool with limited exposure from the main intranet or portal home page.

There are quite a few media channels which are enablers for an explosive level of engagement today. These include phone platforms, messaging platforms, social networks, and social sharing platforms. Easy and intuitive to use, these are perfect for creating interest rapidly and sustaining it for long durations – vital factors needed to drive positive engagement over a long period for both B2B and B2C segment.

65% of the Indian workforce today lies below the age of 35 and apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media have become an integral part of their social and professional life. Today’s workforce is demanding Facebook-grade intranet experience to consume corporate services and collaborate for innovation.

The real need is to enhance engagement so as to increase adoption rates quickly till the platform becomes an important part of daily routine and life.

WhatsApp, this simple, cross-platform tool is convenient due to its mobile-only format, provides users with easy sharing of multiple media, offers visual engagement and has the power to facilitate both, one-on-one or group conversations.

Disengagement in the Workplace

Driving Employee Engagement across 5 generations in the workforce is one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations.  According to the 2015 Quantum Workplace Employee Engagement Trends Report, Employee engagement declined to an 8 year low in 2014 across organizations of all sizes in the US.  Further, a recent Gallup Survey has shown that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have the lowest level of engagement within the enterprise and they constitute 88% of the workforce in the US. These statistics emphasize the urgent need for organizations to address digital dis-engagement and move to intuitive, self-learning, predictive engagement platforms.

The USP of DEEP™ Membership expired, renew now to activate link (Digital Employee Engagement Platform)

DEEP™ is essentially a central exchange which facilitates timely and contextual social business collaboration for a connected employee. It is a hub that provides a captivating experience much akin to social media while contributing significantly to employee motivation and engagement. DEEP™ uses your existing infrastructure to open up channels of effective communication and collaboration in the workplace. It also facilitates proper delivery of relevant content, deploys a powerful search function for finding important data and intuitively predicts areas where engagement might be lacking. It is a comprehensive employee engagement solution which caters to all important facets of this crucial factor in workplace performance and job satisfaction.

This social intranet, platform is easy to use and brings an inherently social feel to workplace communication and correspondence, and caters to all important facets of workplace performance and job satisfaction. Overall, it can be an accurate way to predict and monitor engagement and take corrective measures when it falls below desired levels.

Read more about this powerful social intranet software  Membership expired, renew now to activate linkand how it can boost your business with collaborative and contextual online experiences.

Igloo Review – Intranet Software for Everyone

Igloo Review – Intranet Software for Everyone

Jul 10

Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like ― according to its website anyway.

Companies and projects of all sizes need somewhere to keep all ideas, events and members organized. A place for everybody to congregate and collaborate digitally.

Usually, such software comes in the form of a fully featured professional intranet, like Igloo.


Igloo is a cloud-based intranet and extranet solution designed to promote communication and collaboration between colleagues and/or clients. It boasts a slew of apps and widgets, is compatible with MS Office, and can integrate with both Salesforce and Sharepoint.

Now without any further ado, let’s find out if Igloo really is an intranet that you’ll actually like.

Here’s a short video to get started with.

Initial Thoughts

If you are familiar with my reviews, you’ll know that I start my journey as any customer or client would; with the vendor’s website.


Igloo’s website is pleasant, but doesn’t do an amazing job at getting its message across.

The front page is easy on the eyes for sure, but apart from the video half-way down the homepage, there’s little that actually tells you what Igloo does, or how it does it.

Clicking “Tour” on the menu didn’t make matters much better. There were more videos waiting for me, and although I’m a big fan of video content for when it comes to explaining softwares, I don’t see them as a substitute for good old short, simple core feature descriptions.

Igloo’s website just wasn’t drawing me in. I didn’t feel like the software was going to be simple to use, simply because their website wasn’t telling (or showing) me so.

Getting Started

Igloo comes free, so it’s easy to get your hands on the platform before taking out your wallet. However, the free version will only get you 10 users, 3 team spaces, and 10 GB of storage.

To get myself started, I entered my email and signed up on the Igloo homepage. After that, I only needed to divulge my name and country of residence before clicking “Get Started”.


Igloo then welcomed me to their platform by instructing me to wait for an email. There was an introductory video to give me a taste of what was to come, but the potential 30 minute wait for an email seemed far too long for me.

In the end it didn’t take quite 30 minutes, but I still had to wait longer than I would normally expect for an email to arrive.

But in any case, with the email now in my inbox, I was ready to dive in to my Igloo via the link they sent me.

When I got to my Igloo’s homepage, a default logo stood adjacent to a menu containing; News, Files, Events, Policies and Staff. It was nice to have a foundation ready to build on.

Further down, a sidebar offered “Quick Links” to different default pages as well as an avenue into my profile where I could update my information.

A calendar widget was also active, as was a welcoming message from Igloo on my new activity feed, prompting me to visit the help page in needed, and also to check out some of their tips and tricks for getting started.

I was more interested in feeling my way around, though.

The top menu bar gave my access to different sections of Igloo which would help keep me and my team organised. This includes areas like To-dos, messages, bookmarks, subscriptions, communities and more.


I was also able to set my status between online, offline, away and busy.

The real action though, was the small + button on the right side of the top menu bar. Here, as an administrator, I was able to quickly add pages, blog posts, calendar events, wiki articles, files and more.

This little + button was essentially the command center. One can only wonder as to why the + itself is so small and therefore so easily missed. A minor issue for sure, but one worth rectifying anyway.

Managing Pages & Spaces

To hone your Igloo, you’ll need to spend time managing the front page, and all the other spaces within your intranet or extranet. Here’s some insight into that management experience.

To modify existing pages, you need to click on a small arrow on the right-hand side of the page. It’s a very, very small arrow. A drop-down menu then appears with a few options to choose from.

The “Edit” option is the one I’ll be focusing on now, and I’ll touch on the rest of the options later in the review.

Clicking Edit brings up a neat set of Igloo’s widgets. Blogs, forums, wikis, polls, RSS feeds, slideshows and more widgets make up the library.

All I needed to do was drag and drop whichever app I wanted into place. I was also able to re-arrange the entire page via drag-and-drop interface. It was fluid and satisfying to use, just like any good drag-and-drop system should be.


So, just as the small + button is the key to adding new pages and content, the small arrow button is the key to modifying it once it’s in place. My only issue is the actual size of these two very important buttons.

Apps

Igloo Apps define the way in which you collaborate with other team members. Such Apps include blogs, calendars, file sharing, forums micro-blogs and more.

Apps like calendars, file sharing, wikis and forums on the other hand, are brilliant tools for scheduling tasks, streamlining workflows, asking questions and learning.

Blogging

Blogging and micro-blogging are features within Igloo which help team members give updates and spread news internally.

The blogging feature itself is as you would expect it to be. Users can make use of a WYSIWYG interface to type, insert images and format their content. Posts can then be published, saved for later, or submitted to a moderator to approve.


As for micro-blogging, it’s a quick, easy and potentially playful way for colleagues to update each other.
Inline images can be used, and replies are in context. Twitter fiends will be happy.

Files

With the Files app, Igloo can be used as an asset management system.

Files can be uploaded, downloaded, previewed, and locked. Plus, there’s version control, update notifications and the ability to email files directly into Igloo. Not a bad little DAM solution at all.

Calendars

Events can be organized via the Calendar app. Members can receive invites from Outlook or Gmail, while the calendar itself can be updates with text and rich media.

Events can be set to recur, while members can also choose to RSVP.

Forums

Igloo’s forum app is there to ignite conversation. Ideas can be proposed, and problems can be solved.

All posts can be upvoted or downvoted by members, and threads can even be concluded if a response receives enough praise. Threads can also be sorted and searched through in various ways.

Tasks & Wikis

Tasks can be set with both due dates and priority labels at low, medium or high.


Tasks can also be given sub-tasks, and members can comment on them to keep everybody updated. Notifications will alert relevant members of any progress.

Igloo also lets users set up information and policy hubs in the form of Wikis.


Members can continuously update Wikis and Wiki articles, rate them, comment on them and link to related Wiki content.

Extras

Igloo has a few notable extras worth mentioning, which come together to round off the user experience somewhat.

View Site As

Another handy option for administrators, is the “View Site As” feature once again accessible from the top menu.

Although the feature is still in beta at the time of writing, I found it worked quite well. It allows you to quickly switch between all group types, seeing the community just as they would.

The loads are extremely fast, and the feature is very easy to manage.

Advanced, Activity & Access

Clicking “Advanced” on the drop-down menu for page editing, will bring up SEO options.

This page can be used to populate page titles, meta descriptions, keywords and robot access. All handy stuff.

Another interesting administrative feature is “Activity”, also seen as an option when editing pages.

It gives you an overview of the changes made to the page you’re looking at, as well as who made the changes. This helps keep tabs on other administrators or moderators who may have perhaps made tweaks the a page’s appearance or functionality.

Access is also found in the same way, and allows administrators to set permissions per page. So, if you only want moderators having access to forums, this is the way to configure such a setting.

Site Manager

Within the admin panel is the Site Manager page. Here, Igloo displays the current setup in a tree, enabling administrators to add pages and re-structure the site.

For example, a sub-page of a wiki can be dragged-and-dropped to become its own, standalone page. It’s a neat way to view the entire site, and it works well as a page management tool.

Getting Help

Clicking the “Help” button (which appears on every page when you’re browsing as an administrator), brings up a well-populated help page.

There’s live chat, phone lines, and a community forum to help solve your issues. but most impressively, Igloo’s searchable “Knowledge Base” is full of documentation as well as tutorial videos.

They also have premium support packages for companies requiring personalized assistance. The prices aren’t available, but the details of each package are:

Plenty of premium support too then. However, I’m not entirely sure why the prices need to be hidden, though. I understand that varying user counts will impact the price, but Igloo should be able to provide more guidance here, as these packages may well be the difference between a company using or bailing on Igloo.

Pricing

As previously mentioned, Igloo offers up a free version of itself, giving you access to every app and feature. However, there are limitations.

With the free version, you’ll only be able to have 10 users, 3 team spaces, and 10 GB of storage.

To upgrade, you’ll need to pay up $3 per user for an extranet, and $12 per user for an intranet,

Also, it’s worth noting that Igloo requires you to make a yearly agreement based on the above pricing.

Competitor Bitrix24 also has a free version, catering for up to 12 users, with support for another 12 for just $25 per month. However, they offer less storage and no extranet option at that level.

Yammer, another intranet providing rival, offers its services from $3 per month per user.

So all in all. Igloo have their pricing set out quite well.

The Verdict

Without a doubt, Igloo is a quality piece of software.

Unlike many other intranet solutions, Igloo is extremely quick and easy to set up. Plus, the average employee with limited tech skills will be able to learn the ropes pretty fast, and that’s essential in my opinion.

A company could quite easily sign up for Igloo on Monday, and have a fully organized and in-sync office by the end of the working week. Igloo is that simple.

However, there is room for improvement.

I feel that there is a lack of control when it comes to design in particular. Companies will want to brand and customize their intranet, and apart from interchangeable backgrounds, there isn’t much wriggle room, unless you delve into CSS coding.

Another gripe I have with Igloo, is that it doesn’t make the administrative experience as enjoyable as the user experience.

The top navigation bar gives the admin features to tinker with, but to really configure Igloo on a meaningful level, users will need to delve further into the back end, which just doesn’t serve up the same panache as the front end. The interface is cramped, dark and simply not as user friendly.

Igloo will be loved by employees and team members making use of the front-facing features like micro-blogging and file sharing, but I don’t think the fun extends behind the curtain.

Pros

  • Igloo comes free, albeit with some limitations.
  • The drag-and-drop interface allows you to design the ways apps are displayed.
  • Blogging, micro-blogging, forums, wikis, file management and calendars all come together to make an excellent intranet solution.
  • Extra widgets like polls, slideshows, member lists and RSS feeds provide handy functionality.
  • The sign up and set up process is quick, and apps come pre-installed.
  • Igloo is very fast and responsive.
  • For (free) support, there’s live chat, a phone line, extensive documentation and a user community.

Cons

  • The administrative user experience is lackluster. Igloo provides tidy options from the front end via the top navigation bar, but things get a little dark and dingey when you wander into the back end.
  • Statistics are there, but not in a particularly pretty or useful capacity.
  • Don’t like the way Igloo looks? Well apart from the background image, if you aren’t handy with CSS code, you can’t change anything.

Final Remarks

As previously mentioned, the administrative user experience feels somewhat incomplete. The backend of Igloo simply needs more polishing.

On the other hand, it can be argued that the back of Igloo will rarely be touched. An administrator could configure the general settings, and then join the rest of the company in enjoying the front-facing features. The more technical stuff will only need to be set up once, and can then be forgotten.

Although this may be true, I still feel the need to point out the lack of fluidity when it comes to the administrative experience. It’s something Igloo should see to.

Other than that, Igloo should think about implementing some templates and simple design options to give users more room to brand and personalise.

When it comes to the everyday Intranet features though, Igloo impressed me. There’s certainly nothing incomplete about this far more important side of the platform.

Each feature, from micro-blogging to file sharing, is very easy to get familiar with. Employees and team members will enjoy the easy going nature of Igloo, as well as the handy features it comes boxed with.

All in all, I’m a fan of the platform. It may be a little finicky behind the scenes, but I take nothing away from its speedy, sleek and feature-filled Intranet offering.

Cisco Wants To Buy OpenDNS Because The Intranet Is Dead

Cisco Wants To Buy OpenDNS Because The Intranet Is Dead

Jun 30

When I dropped in last month on David Ulevitch, the CEO of OpenDNS, he was cheerily bounding around the rapidly expanding home base of his Internet security empire in San Francisco’s SoMa district. He’d taken over the other side of the building where OpenDNS is headquartered.

Now Cisco, an investor in OpenDNS since last year, is acquiring the fast-growing company for $635 million in cash and stock. The reasons are simple and obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention to the Internet lately: Networks are porous. Firewalls are irrelevant. Work happens everywhere. And new devices are getting added to the network all the time.

Ulevitch has been beating this drum for a while—in fact, he quietly taunted Cisco three years ago, before that company literally bought into his vision. What’s different is that the world is waking up to the reality that the old ways of securing Internet-connected computing devices are broken.

Routing Past Danger

Consider the Sony hack, recently chronicled by Peter Elkind of Fortune: Traditional network security measures meant nothing when system administrators’ accounts were compromised and employees stashed Twitter passwords in spreadsheets.

OpenDNS offers security services through a basic layer of the Internet, the domain-name service, or DNS. DNS servers translate the location of machines on the Internet, rendered as strings of numbers known as IP addresses, into the domain names that we’re familiar with (like readwrite.com).

It sounds like a simple function, but because it’s a crucial part of every interaction between machines on the Internet, there’s a wide range of security OpenDNS can offer based on examining, blocking, or rerouting these requests.

Crucially, this doesn’t require the installation of special hardware or software. You just route your DNS requests through OpenDNS’s servers rather than—as is typical—your Internet service provider’s machines.

This has put OpenDNS in a position where it can deal with entirely new kinds of attacks.

Behavior Matters

When the Syrian Electronic Army allegedly hijacked the DNS records of the New York Times, OpenDNS ignored the bogus directions and sent people to the New York Times website. That’s not the kind of threat you can handle with a firewall.

Google (which offers a competing DNS service) is embracing a model where it no longer has an intranet—a privileged network only accessible “inside” the company. Because, if you think about it, how do you define “inside” anymore?

Add to that a host of new devices with new interfaces. Can you imagine logging onto a VPN with an Apple Watch? It’s not going to happen—at least not in anything like the tedious way you do it on a laptop. Rather than relying solely on stealable usernames and passwords, the network will watch our behavior. That kind of predictive security is something OpenDNS is expert at.

A company today is a group of people using devices to log into services so they can access and generate data. That’s it. That’s all that matters. Protect those, and you’re secure. Don’t protect those, and, well, you’re Sony.

If there’s any wistfulness here, it’s that OpenDNS didn’t keep forging an independent path. Ulevitch, in a blog post, said that the company was growing quickly—it now has 300 employees—and had added 2,000 paying customers so far this year. Cisco’s salesforce and global reach will surely help OpenDNS knock on more doors. But the real test of this deal will come in a few years, when we’ll see if Cisco has taken OpenDNS’s model of cloud-based security and applied it across its business.

Office 365 Intranet Portal Solution Shakes Up Ignite

Office 365 Intranet Portal Solution Shakes Up Ignite

May 23

At the start of May the tech industry was abuzz with the first ever Microsoft Ignite conference.  Those lucky enough to score a ticket to the sold out event were excited to see the latest from Microsoft and a host of talented Microsoft partners. But, what really caught people’s eye was the new Office 365 Intranet as a Service solution, Unily.

At the Ignite conference in Chicago, Microsoft continued to advance the notion of portal solutions, uniform access to enterprise tools, and of course, their mobile first, cloud first philosophy. As Office 365 has continued to develop its own portal-esque experiences, several innovative partners have taken this powerful concept further and at a blistering pace. The Unily Intranet as a Service is a notable example of the unified enterprise portal concept.

Developed by Microsoft Gold Partner BrightStarr, the Unily Intranet solution is positioned as ‘uniting the very best of the Microsoft cloud’ for greater collaboration and productivity. At their booth they were demoing the latest iteration of this impressive SaaS solution on a host of devices in both responsive design and via native mobile applications.

The Unily intranet platform is built primarily on SharePoint Online and integrates various elements of the Office 365 offering such as Yammer, OneDrive and Exchange and, with new API’s set to be released in as little as the next few weeks, there is already a roadmap for further integrations. Will Saville, Co-Founder of BrightStarr and the innovator behind Unily explained I believe we have really built the first evergreen intranet solution. With our customer-led roadmap combined with the Office 365 roadmap, we can continue to build upon Unilys capabilities to ensure our clients are benefitting from evolutionary technology that always meet their needs. At the top of the Unily roadmap is Delve integration which was announced to be arriving imminently alongside the all new Skype for Business integration.

Dan Holme, Co-Founder of ITUnity and intranet thought leader commented “Many organizations struggle with how to create a beautiful and effective intranet. The technology, the design, and the content management challenges often create a perfect storm that can bring an intranet project to its knees. Unily clearly has the potential to bypass a number of those problems, and to deliver an Intranet as a Service in a fraction of the time thats branded, content-rich and scalable with the organizations needs.

The power of the platform was celebrated at the Metalogix Best of Breed awards, where the Pitney Bowes 18,000 user Unily intranet deployment won Best Cloud Deployment against strong competition. It seems that BrightStarr has really drawn on their 9+ years of creating customized SharePoint intranets to deliver an incredible solution with exceptional user experiences to boot.

For those who have yet to see a unified Office 365 portal solution, Unily promises to be an impressive example of the art of the possible. It certainly seems that Unily will be the solution to watch in coming months as it leads the way in revolutionizing the digital workplace arena.

Endangered Species: The Corporate Intranet

Endangered Species: The Corporate Intranet

Apr 10

The very idea that we’re still doing old-fashioned, browser-based, news-publishing intranets in the mobile era is downright antiquated. They’re no different than rotary-dial phones. And they’re going the same direction as your old olive-drab rotary phone did — and as a result of the same technologies.

The question facing intranets should be how internal collaboration and communication tools are going to evolve in the world of social, cloud and mobile — and whether there’s any place left for the traditional intranet down the line. We shouldn’t be asking if enterprise social will replace the intranet, but rather how long the whole idea of a browser-based intranet portal really has left in the face of mobile apps and form factors (of which social is only one example).

You may not like the message. You may care a great deal for your intranet. You may be tied to it for professional, emotional or financial reasons. You may not see how your company could live without it. And I get it. Believe it or not, I envision, plan and build intranets in my day job. I’m close to this patient. But I know where it’s going.

The Intranet is Dead, Jim

Very few of my enterprise customers will want to hear me say this: The hoary old concept of the intranet is dying. This may sound ridiculous from someone whose business is built in part on constructing those intranet portals for some of the world’s largest companies, but it’s not as radical an opinion as it might seem. Just look around us.

Enterprise-size companies are notoriously conservative in how they buy, deploy and adopt technology. Those companies aren’t interested in being leading-edge unless it gives them a clear leg up on their competition — ideally in revenue generation, but also in employee retention, idea generation, efficiency and effectiveness. That’s why we’re still talking about enterprise social and not just doing it everywhere. There are still plenty of old-line business leaders who need convincing about its value.

Sooner or later, though, some visionary will have the guts to throw out his intranet in favor of deploying and managing a suite of mobile apps officially supported within his organization. There’s nothing an intranet does that you can’t do in an app.

Think about it: Intranets serve two primary business cases — communication vehicle and knowledge repository — and often intersect with collaboration platforms to provide a third — document collaboration.

The reason why is fairly obvious. Mobile is how people live. Heck, the mobile experience is often so compelling (dare we say, addictive?) at this point that more and more states are actively legislating the use (or disuse) of mobile devices by drivers. People literally can’t keep their hands off of their mobile phones without a law expressly forbidding it.

It’s a foolish executive who won’t sooner or later recognize the power of leveraging that sort of powerful user experience in engaging his knowledge workers.

It will happen. Yes, it won’t occur overnight. Much like switching off email and making the leap to enterprise social as your first-choice internal communications channel, it takes a lot of guts to be the person who kills the intranet.

In reality, intranets will go out with the proverbial whimper, not a bang. But they will go out. Their replacements are already here, in slowly increasing use today.

Here’s how it’s going to go down.

… Long Live the Intranet

What does an Intranet do? Primarily, it’s a communication vehicle is for publishing and increasingly, via social channels, sharing content. Companies keep rolling out new publishing portals for their corporate intranet, designing them beautifully to support their internal brand and culture. But how useful are they, really?

Overwhelmingly, information workers consume content on mobile devices in their personal lives. Occasionally, that’s done via a browser, but there’s nothing you can do in a browser that you can’t accomplish with a more targeted mobile app. Multiple apps exist for content sharing — not just text, but images, audio, video — enterprise social feeds, reading magazines, one-to-one and group messaging, and even collaborating in the creation and editing of documents.

Now that these services are available via the cloud (Software as a Service (SaaS) in action, folks) and Mobile Device Management is maturing, why not simply roll an approved set of these out to all of your users and call time on the intranet? If the apps exist for both iOS and Android, you are flexible from a BYOD perspective as well.

I’m not advocating killing off the things intranets do. Those things are useful and necessary in a huge enterprise. What we’re talking about is evolving them, changing them to fit how people interact with their information (and with one another) now, here, today.

There’s a whole industry of people who will keep building intranets for companies so long as they ask us to, but if they instead ask themselves what will really land with their users, the answer is simple. The intranet in name is dead, yes, but its use cases will live on triumphantly in mobile.