Following my last post, several people asked me to explain further what I meant by my Medieval Fable … some even seemed a little upset (<- sorry about that) … so, here goes!
In May 2011, I published the simple diagram on the left asking the question about the relationship between the intranet as we then knew it and this new-fangled Digital Workplace thingy which people were beginning to talk about (if you have time to read through the comments on the original post, they make quite interesting reading).
You see the ‘graph’ on the right of the simple diagram on the left … er … well, that’s the moral of my fable.
WHAT, you need MORE explanation??? Seriously, what’s not to get???
OK … I’m going to go out-on-a-limb here and make some assumptions (<– I realise that this is tantamount to sticking a ‘Kick Me’ sign on my own back, but here goes …!)
Assumption 1: Any company worth its salt has an intranet of some description.
Assumption 2: An intranet is an environment/platform/whatever where content is published (<- I know the word published is a bit 1990s, but it still pretty-much covers what has to happen to stuff for it to become visible to other people on an intranet).
Assumption 3: Most – maybe all (?) – intranets have an Intranet Manager of some description.
Assumption 4: Intranet Managers are appointed because they know something about intranets (even those who don’t could pick up the basics from half-a-day’s reading of a handful of great intranet blogs). Intranet Managers know stuff like: good governance is essential; intranet strategy needs to support the business objectives; put users at the centre; business- not technology-led; blah blah; etc. etc.
Assumption 5: Given all the above, being an Intranet Manager is not rocket science (<- that doesn’t make it easy by the way!).
Assumption 7: Intranet Managers can’t count (<- just checking you’re still paying attention).
Assumption 6: As a company’s intranet matures, the list of stuff in Assumption 4 becomes business-as-usual and things start to run themselves to some extent.
Assumption 7: lots/many companies have probably got to Assumption 6 in their maturity cycle (<- OUCH … who kicked me!?).
Assumption 8: So, the more effective we are as Intranet Managers, the more invisible we are to users and, ironically, to senior management who only really take an interest when something goes wrong and they are looking for someone to blame (<- that probably came across a little more cynically than I intended but you know what I mean!).
… and then, along comes the Digital Workplace Monster. As my simple diagram on the left shows, the Digital Workplace Monster gobbles up the intranet. By gobbles up, I mean the intranet as we now know it, suddenly becomes a (small?) component of a bigger ecosystem known as the Digital Workplace.
To put it another way, the intranet becomes the utility cupboard under the sink in the Digital Workplace kitchen … the place where stuff (content) gets put so you can grab it when you need it. The stuff in the cupboard under the sink is important if you need to unblock the plug-hole, descale the kettle or clean the sink etc. … but, frankly, it’s not very exciting. It’s reliable … always there … and useful when you need it.
So, here’s the thing … six months ago you were the Intranet Manager – the go-to-guy (or guyette) guiding your organisation digitally into the twenty-second century. Today … you manage the cupboard under the kitchen sink.
It’s worth thinking about … that’s all I’m saying!