Intranet

Corporate-owned (Enterprise) network of systems accessible only to its employees (and maybe contractors). (If you add customers and/or vendors, it becomes an ExtraNet.)

The main info storage mechanism used to be the File Server. It's becoming the Web Server more and more.

I tend to avoid central control for a large organization, as I think most of the value accrues locally (to the team, project, department), so better for each of them to find what works. Though...

But I think it's good for a central IT group to nudge people toward a particular set of technologies (the carrot approach is "we'll host it for you and you won't have to worry about maintenance and backups") - but they'd better have a decent written evaluation to show people.

Given a mix of bottoms-up solutions, what are the enterprise-wide issues or tools to keep in mind?

  • authentication/access: people will want to access systems from outside the office (home, the road). So a firewall isn't a great answer. VPN-s are a hassle to set up for each user, esp for people wanting to use their personal home equipment (or a Mobile device). Should all servers be accessible by all employees in the enterprise (ACL)? Either way, you may find the need to have all servers support authentication against a central LDAP server, or something like that (Distributed Membership System)...

  • a WebSpider feeding a VerticalSearch Engine, to make everything accessible. Given the breadth of material, relevance ranking (vs simple keyword matching) is necessary. A Google appliance might do the job, though the Page Rank might not have enough link-volume to be useful: any Search Engine would probably do pretty well.

    • would have to settle on Security issues: you're definitely going to have some spaces that aren't supposed to be read by all employees. But I'd argue you should have very few of those, and just treat them as special cases.... bias should be that anyone can find/read anything, though not probably be able to comment.

    • some sort of controlled topic/vocabulary (Shared Vocabulary) might be a good idea - e.g. every project has a canonical name which is used exactly in each posting relevant to it. Then one can use that name in searching and find things more widely... because you probably don't have enough scale to count on Tagsonomy convergence

    • Oct'2010 update: Venkatesh Rao thinks Enterprise search is broken for a reason. Shoving a democratic search engine into your information ecosystem is a pretty naive thing to do.A large organization is a contentious place. Alignment isn't some idealized state of harmony to aspire to. It is a decision-by-decision evolving reality as power and influence shift through the organization chart. And again, this is a good thing. If things are going badly, you want different organizations to debate and express dissent, negotiate and if necessary, yes, hide information. This is why I don't want to work for an Enterprise or sell to one.

  • some way for team/department members to share bookmarks ("here's that key HR policy"). A general easy-authoring (WebLog, Wiki) engine may make this easy, as long as they keep it easy to post/maintain reference documents, rather than having blog entries slide off into the archives. (Note that this linking can feed an internal Google Page Rank algorithm.)

  • an RssAggregator that can pull everything together

    • maybe something like FriendFeed to pull all the feeds together by person?
  • some sort of BackLinks or most-popular-pages rankings

  • a Sister Sites Wiki directory

Harder, but probably necessary:

  • some way to at least view some filtered To-Do List from multiple spaces you are working in. An RSS feed might be sufficient, if your To-Do List lets you just get a fresh full list that way, not just a list of changed tasks.

    • any given person should have very few spaces he's actively involved in this way, I think.

Social Networking? I have a hard time seeing lots of incremental value for that.

Weblog For Collaboration Ware, BlogWeb, AppLog

Wiki For CollaborationWare, WikiWeb, AppWiki


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