Posts tagged ‘portals’

November 29, 2010

Think Communities, Not Portals!

If you are planning your SharePoint 2010 upgrade and looking at redesigning the hundreds of intranet sites — stop right there!   Don’t redesign, rethink your corporate intranet.

I spend a fair amount of time with clients discussing the redesign of their sites and in most cases I continue to hear the word “portal” mentioned.   When I think of portals, I jump into my time machine and go back a decade or so.  Portals are plain and generally have static web content with outdated information that is seldom accessed by employees.   Look at your intranet today and it’s likely you’ll see a SharePoint site with all kinds of links that’s not very interactive or relevant to individuals.  Maybe you have top-down executive blog that is posted to once a quarter or once a month if you’re lucky.   If the corporate intranet page wasn’t set as the employee home page in the browser, I wonder how many people would actually visit it?  .  Sound like your intranet?  So what’s the point of upgrading to SharePoint 2010 if you’re just going to migrate those plain boring sites you have today?

It’s time to break away from the traditional thinking of intranet “portals” and design a collaborative infrastructure around a complete “community model”.  What do I mean exactly?   If you compare a community to the traditional portal, you may think it’s just a matter of semantics.   However, the concept of a portal is a push relationship as someone is pushing content to you.  Communities are social, interactive, dynamic, and provide a context for individuals to subscribe, collaborate and contribute to.   Communities source information from the bottom up as well as the top down.  Communities have a pull relationship — meaning the community pulls on users to contribute and users pull on the community to consume.  The fact is that every piece of content and every person in your organization is part of some community whether you realize it or not.  The largest and most open community is everyone in your organization and there are likely hundreds or thousands of sub-communities.   Communities also provide a degree of openness in your organization.  So if the information you wish to share has more defined security requirements, that’s when you manage it in a secure team site as opposed to a community.

Now I know what you’re thinking — “we have to have a hierarchical intranet portal”.   Really do you?  Do you need it to be hierarchical?   Sure you might need a directory for people or sites for easier navigation.  You also need enhanced search capabilities as most people would rather search than browse.   Just think about it — is the public internet hierarchical?   Does Google or Facebook or LinkedIn have any hierarchy?   In comparison, you could look at Yahoo as a traditional portal — static, boring, and a site people rarely view anymore.  And that’s why Yahoo has lost market share and relevance today.

Let’s face it — for many of us Facebook is our “portal” on the public internet  and something we visit 1 or more times a day because it’s social and relevant to us personally.  LinkedIn may be your “portal” into your professional life and network.   Do you really need a traditional hierarchy of intranet sites and portals?   Or is it more important to capture, share, and collaborate on information within the context of a community?


September 27, 2009

Think Communities, Not Portal

Recently, I was discussing a client’s traditional intranet portal.   So plain, static web pages, and seldom accessed by employees.   I recommended they change their thinking and do away with the traditional portal as they knew it and move to a complete “community model” where the entire intranet portal transforms into SharePoint communities – the entire company, lines of businesses, functional areas, etc… 

If you compare a community to the traditional portal, you may think it’s just a matter of semantics – as the corporate intranet portal page = something all employees have access to.   However, just look at a publishing site in SharePoint vs. the functionality within a Community.   In the community model, it’s more social and you can subscribe and contribute to the community itself.   Receive latest news, CEO blog, HR announcements, provide feedback, etc… all are contained within the functionality of a community.  You can PULL on the community to get information and the community can PULL on you to contribute.  

On the public internet, one might simply look at Yahoo as a traditional portal.  Static, boring, and a site I never login to view anymore.  That’s why Yahoo has lost business and market share.   Okay, occasionally I go to yahoo finance but I can get the same financial info elsewhere — except that I read the chatter in the Yahoo finance discussion threads for amusement.  

Today, Facebook is my portal – the facebook community is my day to day, everyday, several times a day.  In fact, I predicted this back in early 2008 in a prior blog entry Facebook- The New Portal…  

Now whether or not this client listens to my advice or not remains to be seen.  Their initial response was “we have to have a hierarchical intranet portal”.   Except you don’t – you need to think communities, not portal!