We continue with reader responses regarding intranets. This month we
hear from those who are only beginning to implement an intranet or are skeptical
about the concept.
We've started to develop an intranet site to increase office communication. We expect the Web interface and tools available to provide more flexibility and shorter development times for groupware applications and information dissemination. We do not feel that our intranet will completely displace either Lotus Notes or Open Minde but will enhance those highly evolved systems. The intranet will allow us to preview and test systems that we will be rolling out for public consumption on our Internet site.
Jason M. Palmer
New York, NY
We plan to implement an intranet. We have engaged in intranet-like projects on a small scale; we built Web-based applications for use within the corporation. Currently, the plan is to provide cross-platform access to applications which are currently only on one platform (Windows 3.X or Unix).
I expect that there will be a couple of years of coexistence of "traditional" applications and "intranet" applications. I suspect that the Web-based applications will tend to dominate once we start making major upgrades to our desktop operating systems. The ease of transitioning the "intranet" apps (just use a new browser) versus the "trad" apps (redevelop with new tools, targeting a new OS and GUI) will lead to most new apps being developed with intranet techniques.
We are planning to implement an intranet this fall, and we are currently analyzing the services that are going to be provided. Many of those usually offered via an intranet are implemented at our corporate glass house (mainframe-based), such as employees' expenditures, benefits and online corporate manuals and policies. We are not sure that implementing those using the intranet is going to be more efficient, as some of them are workflow-based, and the workflow engines are probably more efficient and reliable than Web servers.
Our expectation is to be able to provide a common front end to many of the corporate applications. We aren't expecting better performance (at least at first).
We are implementing an intranet to help us deal with the volume of paperwork and information that we receive from both vendors and customers over the Internet. The concept is to provide a high degree of information access while controlling outside access to the Internet. We anticipate higher productivity and quicker access to information.
We are heading toward the Internet and an intranet. It will not replace Lotus Notes but coexist with it. We are also implementing document imaging and videoconferencing, using Notes.
We have an intranet in the planning stages and should have it in place by September. It will be our help desk and will replace our company phone directory and newsletter.
Redwood City, CA
We have a very young intranet, which so far has been used by the IS group to communicate with the 80 users at this site and by the technical support group to log calls. It will become a key corporate communications tool in 1997 when the marcom group begins using it for company-wide communication of news, policies and procedures. We expect it will be an inexpensive method of communication that can be updated in realtime instead of printing hard copy, sending faxes, etc.
San Francisco, CA
We are building an extensive site for both our onsite and remote office employees. The main goal has been to place relevant information for all employees in one place and make it easier for our remote sales force to receive information they need quickly. It will replace the binder of forms and other data sitting on the secretary's desk. We currently have no set system for making this information available to everyone; if the information isn't with the secretary, it is in someone's head or on their PC.
We currently offer (on our Novell 3.12 network) a City Information menu that, through .bat files, takes staff to one of the 13 servers for city council agendas, summaries, an actions database, finance charts of accounts and forms, administrative regulations, personnel forms and CDs with property information, state census data, and also general computer-based training. Most of this information, other than that on the CDs, will go on an intranet in the near future.
Not every employee has access to the Internet, but all will to the intranet. We expect the intranet to present more information in a more graphical and easier-to-use system.
We have implemented an intranet task force to define the uses for corporate and divisional intranets. As our group is responsible for publishing technology standards and technology directions, we use the intranet to publish task-force presentations, meeting schedules, minutes and related information; publish standards and recommendations; create forums for various discussion topics; facilitate workflow/groupware; and provide corporate information
We are just beginning to set up an intranet. It will be used primarily as a method of sharing information and will not really replace any systems. My personal expectations include offering enough information to internal users so as to avoid phone calls and questions that could be answered via FAQ documents. As a place for easy-access information, I hope it will streamline many of our internal communication methods.
Laura L. White
San Francisco, CA
Our intranet is in the process of being created. It will replace tennis shoes, meetings in the hall and lack of communication.
We are actively in the planning stages of developing an intranet, specifically for in-house departmental minutes and for policies and procedures. While the content has been planned out, the format and design still need to be worked out, and it has to work with our e-mail suite (Novell Groupwise). It will replace paper-based media.
We have an intranet, which will not replace any systems in the short term. It has not fully met our expectations since we are not quite sure what our expectations are. We are in the infancy of this system but believe that it shall resolve and help us in a variety of processes.
Our organization has an intranet, but we are still taking baby steps with it. It is accessible via the corporate LAN and text-only via our VM systems. It will eventually be used to disseminate most information intended for widespread distribution. It won't meet my expectations until more training is given for its use; as it is, most people don't use it at all.
R. G. Knott
My organization does not have an intranet, and we do not plan to implement one, as we are in the process of deploying Lotus Notes internally. However, if Notes does not stand up to what intranets can offer, we may have to install an intranet alongside it.
Auckland, New Zealand
We don't have an intranet per se, although we use Lotus Notes as our primary communications tool, complete with e-mail addresses and database repositories.
San Rafael, CA
Our company is not planning to use an intranet to link our computers. Local computers that require linking are still communicating through serial ports. The computers at remote locations are linked via radio modems or with a host/server program and telephone modems.
Howard M. Krawetz
We do not currently have an intranet, but there are plans in the works to get one going. Our biggest problem is finding the right people with time to work on building it. Depending on how much you wanted to control, you could consume a full-time individual for every 250 people or so. Were we to get one, it would replace customer MIS-type functions and provide greater access to company information in all departments--training and so on. The potential is huge, but so are the staffing requirements.
Mountain View, CA
Gramatically incorrect but a marketing godsend, intranet is the battle cry of a desperate vendor looking for revenue. On the other hand, if desperate companies throw enough money at it, the market may be convinced.
San Francisco, CA
Intranet is just the latest issue from a long and illustrious family that also includes client/server, distributed computing, and "the network is the computer." Vendors love these buzzwords because they make the incremental, multidecade evolution of networking technology seem fresh and revolutionary. It's easier to sell the promise of "revolutionizing the way you work" than the reality that each innovation "takes one more helpful step." Intranet/Internet technologies contain genuine innovations, but they are just one more step in a long walk.