Behind the Firewall: Shining the light on intranet real practice

Some people collect stamps, others antiques or fountain pens, meet Mads Richard who collects and shares real practice screenshots of corporate intranet sites in his community: Intra2

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by Alison Boothby

Some people collect stamps, others antiques or fountain pens even, but simply has recently met Mads Richard who collects and shares real practice screenshots of corporate intranet sites in his community: Intra2 | Share your intranet. Alison Boothby caught up with him to find out what is behind his fascination.

“I have a communications background and since 2000 with the web booming it was clear that nearly all the focus was on external sites. I wanted to shine the light on the hidden and more complex world of intranets and to do this I had to collect enough examples to enable me to speak with authority on the subject.” And so began a personal crusade to build up an unrivalled collection of corporate intranet examples that led to the publication of a book: “Behind the Firewall” in 2002 and continues to support his consulting work through Intra2.

Inspiration

Intra2.com is an online, password protected collection of more than 5000 screenshots from intranets and digital workplaces in nearly 450 companies and organisations, among them 100 global companies with intranets with English as their main language. The collection is created by the users of Intra2 who share screenshots in return for access to the entire collection. It’s an opportunity to share real life examples and to find valuable insight and inspiration.

“Intra2 shows off all the different elements of a well functioning intranet. It’s not just about the latest or the shiniest; it’s about real practice. It’s about intranets that work well for business” Mads explains. “I want Intra2 to be a resource for internal communication managers, web editors, IT and HR managers, social media managers: in fact for anyone who has an interest in a well-functioning digital workplace.”

Why?

For any of us who have been involved in an intranet project we know just how much of a headache it can be. As an example, when companies are merging or restructuring the landscape is potentially extremely complex. With a resource like Intra2 it is now possible to check out what providers look like and scrutinise real practice use cases from different vendors. You also get a lot of inspiration and insight in a short space of time to help build a clear picture of what you want your intranet to be, backed up with relevant examples. It does make sense.

The collection includes screenshots of various types of pages including homepages, news sections, HR information, employee profiles, search options and collaboration and workflow areas. What is particularly helpful is that the collection of screenshots is searchable by company size and industry as well as by topic. Also valuable we think is the ability to search by intranet platform and vendor which means that if you are weighing up the pros and cons of potential intranet options you can explore examples of who’s built what and on which platform. The current collection is heavy on Sharepoint 2013 and 2010 examples (no surprises there perhaps) but it is interesting to compare the look and feel from, say, Unily from Brightstarr and Wizdom from Webtop. What’s more, every company who shares on the site has contact details so it is easy to establish a dialogue with them if you want to explore particular sites in more detail.

Review and benchmark

Mads Richards, Share your Intranet. Live interview at #smilelondon from simply-communicate on Vimeo.

Mads joined us at smilelondon 2016 last week where he set up his Intranet Expo and ran a couple of workshops. A central part of these Intranet Expos is a review and benchmarking of intranet homepages – a speciality of Intra2:

“Your intranet homepage is a vital part of your intranet. It’s the first page for all users and the only page for some so it is crucial to prioritise the limited space available to ensure it offers what your users need and achieves what you want for the business.

 

“Using our simple and very visual tool we provide an analysis of how the homepage is put together in relation to four basic purposes of a modern intranet (see model below). The result can be represented in two graphs which show the balance of usage and how it compares to an average intranet homepage. By understanding more clearly what you want your intranet home page to be we can help by demonstrating with relevant examples from the Intra2 collection.”

Most of Mads’ work to date has been concentrated in Scandinavia, but with a critical mass of English language intranet sites in his collection, now seems a good time to launch outside of the Scandinavian market. The .com site launched in September 2016 and since then he has been building a larger network in the UK – but has also companies from Australia and Canada joining Intra2.

Special offer for our readers

Judging by the enthusiastic reception Intra2 received at smilelondon 2016 Mads’ hard work is paying off. In order to support the global growth Mads offers readers of simply-communicate a special 3 month free access to Intra2.com. All you have to do is contact him at mads@intra2.com – plus be willing to share a screenshot of your own intranet. If you are involved in an intranet project it might be worth exploring how Intra2 can add value – there’s certainly nothing to lose.

 

 

 

Mads Richards, Share your Intranet. Live interview at #smilelondon from simply-communicate on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

Note: All companies have given special permission to let us print and hang up their screenshots at an Intranet Expo.