Sunday, December 31, 2006

Home intranet access back issue

A great report from Ipsos-Reid reveals that Canada continues to be a world leader with a highly connected population – right up there with the Scandanavian countries, the United States, Korea and Hong Kong (did you know in a study of e-business readiness conducted by IBM and the Economist, Azerbaijan ranked 50th out of all countries? Who knew?!?!).

73% of Canadians are now connected to the Internet; 62% of households have high-speed access. Similar numbers are reported from the other leading countries.

What does this have to do with the intranet? Glad you asked...

A vast majority of organizations still only extend intranet access to a percentage of their employees. It often ranges from 33% to 75% of employees have access. With some exceptions (Cisco, IBM, Xerox and some other financially strong, leading-edge appreciators of technology), this is largely due to the fact that many, many employees, in most industries, do not have or work with a computer. In most organizations, no computer = no intranet access.

While some companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector, have established intranet stations or kiosks for employees without computers, the success of joint or shared workstations and kiosks have largely been lackluster. (One exception is Dutch Railway company NedTrain with an employee workforce of 4,000, the majority of which do not have dedicated computers. Despite the limited computer access, the company encourages employees to use centrally located touch-screen kiosks to access the intranet. The result: an astounding 2.5 million quarterly visits – or 200 intranet visits per employee per month).

Given the cost and cultural challenges of extending access to employees who don’t have computers some companies are extending intranet access to the employee at home (many companies offer home intranet access via a VPN or dedicated or password protected connection but often this privilege is only extended to executives and middle managers).

Others like Alaska Airlines have put their intranet on the public Internet – that’s right, a .com site on the Internet! Knowing that most of their employees work ‘on the road’ they got smart and put it on the public Internet (of course, secure areas are password protected and reside behind their firewall). It’s also a great way to tell the world, “We have nothing to hide! Come check us out.”