Saturday, January 20, 2007

10 Best Intranets of 2007

The start of a new year brings a lot of hype – the promise of bigger, better, faster; predictions and prognostications for the future; and the annual Intranet Design Annual by Jakob Nielsen et al.

While we’re only 15 days into 2007, the report is hyped as “the 10 Best Intranets of 2007.” I’m not sure how that’s possible, but Nielsen is a master at hyping his own work – which is very, very good. Nielsen is a true thought leader and, by all accounts, a genius. Usability and design is his tapestry and laboratory. And marketing is one of his gifts.

But beware the hype. Only a small fraction of an intranet’s value is design and usability – tertiary aspects to the larger value delivered by content, planning and resources. This value appears to be an afterthought to the authors of the report in years past, but at least they are forthright in promoting the report for what it is: a ‘design’ annual.

The report though is very well written and there are some great case studies and screenshots. At US$179, the report is great value. (Funny, I promote this report every year and despite all my readers I’ve never gotten a note for them… no response ever. Perhaps I’m too frank and not selling it hard enough… though I’d be surprised if this column delivers no less then a few dozens sales for them. Am I becoming an intranet snob?!? J).

This year’s winners (keep in mind that these aren’t really the best of the year, just the best of the submissions and screenshots that Nielsen Norman received) include:

* American Electric Power (AEP), United States
* Comcast, United States
* DaimlerChrysler AG, Germany
* The Dow Chemical Company, United States
* Infosys Technologies Limited, India
* JPMorgan Chase & Co., United States
* Microsoft Corporation, United States
* National Geographic Society, United States
* The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), United Kingdom
* Volvo Group, Sweden

Here are some interesting tidbits from the report offered up in Nielsen’s latest column 10 Best Intranets of 2007:

* Dow uses English for most global content, but translates the most important content into six other languages (Dutch, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish). It also translates selected content into Chinese, Greek, Japanese, and Thai.
* The most-used products were: Windows Server, Google Search Appliance or Google Mini, SharePoint, SQL Server, Google Maps, Omniture, and Vignette
* Across the first three Intranet Design Annuals (2001-2003), the winning intranets were 4.3 years old on average. Across the three most recent Annuals (2005-2007), intranets were 7.5 years old on average
* Across the first three Design Annuals (2001-2003), the average intranet contained 200,000 pages; across the three most recent Annuals (2005-2007), the average intranet contained 6 million pages
* This year’s intranet winners have the following owners: 35% were in Corporate Communications, 27% were in Information Technology or Information Systems (IT/IS), and 19% were in Human Resources (HR)
* Comcast's marketing extranet has reduced versioning and distribution costs by 50-60% and reduced delivery time even more
* Infosys has experienced a 65% drop in help desk calls since launching its redesign