by November 17, 2005 0 comments

There is this all too familiar concept of office-productivity software- the standard mix of office suite, browser and e-mail software. We take them for granted, a necessary evil so to say. On the other side, the Web is often seen as a not-very productive, if not downright non-productive resource.

I think it is time we changed that paradigm. We need to make the Web a productivity tool. The question is how. Given the confusion that is the Internet, how do we make it a productivity tool, beyond the normal Google search?

There are at work a set of inititatives and technologies on the Internet that will disrupt the traditional way content is created and aggregated. Initiatives like wikipedia have already proved that the status quo can be altered, and sometimes altered dramatically. 

The question is, how do we benefit from this trend?

Forget the Internet for the minute. Let us start small with the intranet. On the intranet, how do we use the Web paradigm to improve employee productivity? The answer is fairly simple. Put the disruptive technologies at work on the Internet to productive use on the intranet.

Todays intranets are mostly about static pages and forms, with some having rich media content added. Originally, intranets heralded a big shift in the way organization to employee communications happen. At the same time, organizations have struggled with ‘managing’ knowledge management. It is time to think afresh on these issues.

The basic idea of organizational content creation and management needs to undergo a change, from its current top-down approach to a more collaborative approach, where content can be created in a more non-hierarchical fashion.

Here I need to clarify that when I am talking of content, I am not necessarily referring only to content as in a newspaper or magazine. All organizations create content, be it marketing brochures or HR manuals or annual reports. I am referring to this type of content.

I am also not advocating a complete and overnight changeover from status quo; at least for the time being. Instead, think of your intranet as also having the following:

A Wiki for shared knowledge. A forum for interactive decision-making and discussions, a visual gallery for visual material associated with the workplace, a set of employee blogs, a set of podcasts from senior management. May be you could implement them in stages.

The basic set up should not be too costly or all that difficult. And having set it up what do you do? Many years back, in August 1997, we did a story on how to set up an intranet. Intranets were new at that time. And one of the things that we advised at that point of time was not to make it very restrictive, to allow users to experiment. I feel that that advice is still valid as the paradigms change yet again. Once you have experimented with the Intranet, you may be emboldened to try out the same thing on the wider spectrum of the Internet. And when you indeed take the big step towards community oriented or community created content, you will only be joining a long list of organisations which are already trying to understand and leverage on the emerging disruptive technologies. My advice is that you will be better off taking the plunge now than later. FOr later may just be too late.

Krishna Kumar, Editor

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