Intranet Challenges – a new book on intranet management

by | Feb 10, 2015 | Intranets, Reviews

A new book on intranet management is most welcome, especially from a major publisher like Springer. One of the authors, Stephan Schillerwein is well known in the intranet community from his work at Infocentric (especially on digital workplaces). Daniel Lutolf and Stefanie Meier have internal communications expertise.

There are seven chapters, starting off with a brief introduction to intranets and then a chapter reviewing the history of intranet development, the current situation and an attempt at defining some of the many intranet buzzwords, such as Enterprise 2.0 and Digital Workplace. This chapter suddenly moves in to a discussion about intranet development in Switzerland compared with the rest of the world, a sign of the business interests of the authors. Chapter 3 outlines the phases of a typical intranet launch/rebuild project, with more detail given about each phase in a useful Appendix.

The challenges of change management, organisational culture and adoption are the subject of Chapter 4. Chapter 5, almost a third of the entire 150 page paperback book, looks in detail at a range of intranet functional and content issues, including the value of taxonomies and metadata, personalisation, analytics, news, collaboration and social media. Each individual section is set out in a challenge/solution format with some very brief case studies. Although there are a number of screen shots the quality of their reproduction is not good enough for purpose. The ABB-Intranet Toolfinder screenshot on p64 is just one of many that are virtually un-readable. I would have expected better from Springer.

Good practice in intranet management is the subject of Chapter 6, setting out some approaches to defining roles and responsibilities and the importance of effective governance. This is followed by a very short chapter on the future of intranets.  Each chapter has a list of resources at the end but many seem dated, such a guide to portal management dating from 2005 which even Amazon cannot supply and a comment on intranet usability from Jakob Nielsen dating back to 2007.

There are a lot of good insights and advice in this book, though I’m not quite sure what the readership would be. It seems to be primarily aimed at the internal communications community as it is very light on technology. The case studies are interesting but as I have mentioned the poor quality of reproduction means that the screen shots have little value. Having got this far in the review I should perhaps note that the book is in German which inevitably reduces its value to the wider community, as does the rather curious choice of further reading. Nevertheless there is much of value in the book, especially for smaller organisations in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Martin White