There are literally dozens of technologies available that organisations can use to create and maintain their intranets. However Microsoft SharePoint has become the dominant technology with roughly half of all intranets built using SharePoint.
While there are many variables that can affect the value of an intranet such as quality of content, governance, leadership, culture, training, and change management, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see how much of an impact, if any, technology might have on an intranet’s value.
So I analysed the data from the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) online benchmark survey to see whether there were any interesting findings - particularly in relation to SharePoint versus Other Intranet Software.
155 organisations have participated in the WIC and the breakdown of software used by participants is as follows,
24 SharePoint (version not known)
21 SharePoint 2007
15 SharePoint 2010
75 Other (comprised of 66 other intranet technologies with no clear second place)
20 Not known
To analyse the impact of the software on end user satisfaction, I filtered the results by the categories listed above and calculated the average score for each question. I then compared these averages to see whether there were any significant differences.
Note: Of the ‘Other’ intranet software, 4 was the next highest number of occurrences (Lotus Notes in case you were wondering). So the sample size is too small for any meaningful analysis to be done for software other than SharePoint. Grouping all non-SharePoint related software together in one category runs the risk that those products that perform particularly well in an aspect of intranet (eg. creating workflows or forms) may not be recognised because of this grouping together of products.
Key findings are below:
Software doesn’t appear to affect the overall value of the intranet with minimal differences for each software category.
Time on the intranet
Staff spend approximately 5 minutes (around 15%) longer on SharePoint compared to ‘Other’ software (Is this a good thing? See the article If employees spend more time on the intranet, does this mean it's more valuable?)
Again, there appears to be little difference in the ease of finding information, regardless of the software.
One area where SharePoint seems to have an edge is online collaboration. The average rating (out of 4) for SharePoint was 0.80 compared to Other 0.54 - almost double, a significant difference. The chart below shows a percentage breakdown of responses to this question.
This finding is supported to some extent by the results of the following surveys which indicate that the primary use of SharePoint is for supporting team based collaboration.
What are you doing with SharePoint (survey completed by 239 people)?
30 July 2010 (completed by over 750 SharePoint professionals)
What does it all mean?
For many of the WIC survey questions, there were only minor differences between SharePoint and non-SharePoint ratings. This seems to indicate that there are many factors at play that affect the success of an intranet and that perhaps technology is not as big a part of the overall solution as many organisations may think.
Other key factors, besides technology, that will affect intranet value include:
Leadership and support - are senior management convinced of the value of an intranet, do they actively use and support it?
Financial support - are the funds available to sustain ongoing participation?
Quality of and frequency of content provided - are people contributing content on a regular basis?
Governance - are roles and responsibilities clear? Is content being maintained and updated regularly? Are there clear processes in place for keeping the intranet current?
Organisational culture - is the culture one of collaboration and sharing of information? Or are people reluctant to share information?
Change management and training - are people aware of what intranet functionality is available? Is training provided? Is it easy for people to contribute content?