Just read an interesting report on corporate intranets in the Wall Street Journal – of all places. ( http://wsj.com/reports) The premise was that too many intranets are “due for a makeover” and that far too few are delivering on the huge potential of the available technology. Based on my observations over the years (on both the agency and corporate side) I unfortunately have to concur. The most egregrious flaws: too much clutter, clunky navigation, inadequate search capability, stale content, a surfeit of corporate hype or fluff, and a confusing tangle of competing or unrelated sites. Too many intranets don’t even effectively serve their most elemental function – to act as an information portal for employees.

There are some obvious fixes: adding RSS capability, robust collaboration tools (like wikis), use of vlogs and podcasts, and elimination of stale or rogue sites. But the best recipe for success is to apply the same rule that drives success in the Web 2.0 environment – put yourself in the shoes (or sandals?) of your users…in this case the employees. At too many companies (including some I have worked with/at) employees can’t find what they need, can’t pull what they want, can’t collaborate or communicate with their colleagues and/or can’t contribute to the site. And presumably, some employees are simply turned off by the ill-advised layout “vision” of the site designers. All of these shortcomings can be addressed by leveraging emerging technology to make intranets a more engaging, user-friendly, personalized and collaborative environment. But ultimately, it’s about building intranets for the employees, not for the CEO.