I saw one of the best definitions of an intranet as “what the employees experience” earlier this month. The point that Stephen Fishman was making, and poignantly so, was that it doesn’t really matter where the tools are, your average employee doesn’t distinguish between portals, benefit centers, wikis, and whether it’s a platform, suite, mash up, or other option.
The “intranet” is very much an IT-created concept and the more we focus on user experience and design, the better off everyone is.
As Google Apps proliferate across small and medium sized businesses, across education, non profit, and for profit businesses, and even in some larger enterprises, there’s a real question of whether Google Sites can stand up to traditionally defined “intranet” projects.
To dig in, I connected with a Google Sites expert from Kirksville Web Design, Kyle Horst, to get the scoop on how he’s worked with clients recently to meet their intranet needs with a combination of Google Apps.
A social business is about linking people and prioritizing people first. This month Google introduced Google+ to enterprise users. The challenge of course, is how to convert organizations that, in the absence of a social option, have likely turned to other alternatives. Think 37 Signals, Moxie, SocialText, Jive, and the list goes on. If there’s one reason not to use Google Apps – it’s the lack of a ‘people’ strategy. And that’s a big lack.
You can’t search across Google Apps
Unless you have a very expensive Google Search Appliance, you can’t really search across your email, docs, and sites. There’s something Google developed in labs so that folks can do this from google mail, but this should be a feature available across the Google Apps toolkit – maybe even from the little black bar.
Ditto with apps from the marketplace. You can’t search across third party apps like Insightly, Box.net, or others that you’ve added on. That’s a shame.
This isn’t about how to set up the code (it’s really easy and many have covered it), but rather how to set yourself up to measure the things that matter, create filters, segments, and goals to move toward data-driven decision making and iterative optimization. You’ll need a basic understanding of web analytics, and some familiarity with Google Analytics (GA) will help too.
There are many reasons not to use Google Sites for your intranet. Maybe you have an intranet already, maybe you want (need?) java applications for some complicated business application and custom builds. Maybe you want lots and lots social features built right into the page. But maybe not. Maybe you want a flexible, easy to use, easy to share, content management system that is free (for many, cheap for all) and ready to use out of the box.