One of the most frequent questions posed to me by communicators
and content managers is, “How often should we update our home page?”
Hopefully this issue was largely addressed in pre-launch planning.
Unfortunately, it is rarely given much more than passing thought until
the monster goes live and the masses start stampeding to it for
enlightenment. One solution to the hungry intranet challenge is to turn
employees into journalists.
Content & Knowledge Management
Content management is often considered a facet of ‘knowledge
management’. We define knowledge management (KM) as the way and means
that organizations create, store and access (reuse) knowledge to
accomplish enterprise goals. Successful KM has three principal
Organizational processes and rules (e.g. taxonomy)
Knowledgeable and engaged individuals
Appropriate technology to support knowledge sharing
The principal precept of distributed content management is
empowering content creators with the means to publish and manage their
own content through a centralized system. At the risk of being
redundant, and perhaps oversimplifying an otherwise complex subject, we
simply define content management as the process and means by which an
organization creates, publishes and maintains content via the intranet,
extranet and/or Internet. Distributed content management is therefore
decentralized content creation, publishing and management by multiple
authors and groups throughout an organization.
Effective knowledge management begins with the second tenet,
‘knowledgeable and engaged’ employees. Cisco Systems understands the
principal tenets of knowledge management and that employees tacitly
hold the majority of an organization’s knowledge.
In fact, Cisco encourages each one of its 40,000+ employees
to become journalists.
Strategically located under the intranet home page, Cisco Employee
Connection, is a button labeled “Submit News.” This simple but
innovative feature in an online submission form that encourages Cisco
employees to submit their own news stories. While all submissions must
adhere to certain guidelines (also provided via a link immediately
adjacent to the Submit News button) and each submitted piece is
evaluated for appropriate content and edited for grammar, the feature
encourages several submissions per week and drives additional knowledge
sharing at the technology giant.
Xerox’s best tips database is used by
the company’s 20,000+ field customer service professionals and has
produced savings of $10 million to date for Xerox.
One small-to-medium sized Canadian investment company operates
its’ corporate intranet portal according to a multi-tiered governance
structure which includes an Intranet Publisher’s Group. In an
organization of about 1000 employees, more than 80 employees have
become publishers using a centralized publishing tool to create and
manage their own content and pages under the central portal. Guidelines
spell out the rules for using the tool and managing content, and each
publisher receives training on using the publishing tool.
Of course, using employees to drive content and knowledge can mean
more than just increased corporate news. Some organizations are using
employee driven efforts to ‘pad’ the bottom-line. Xerox established a
web-based database a number of years ago that catalogues company best
practices, namely repair and maintenance tips. About 3,800 employees,
or 20% of the Xerox technicians worldwide, generate the majority of the
tips submitted to the database, which contains over 30,000 logged tips.
The database is accessed via the intranet by the company’s 20,000+
field customer service professionals and has produced savings of $10
million to date for Xerox (Source: Knowledge-Management Intranets,
Corporate Executive Board, 2000).
For many organizations, content is being published in multiple
areas on multiple platforms – be it on the intranet, extranet or
Internet (see E-Business Convergence: The Melding of Internet and
). As a result, many organizations are deploying a single
tool and/or architecture for publishing content across multiple
platforms as a means of reducing publishing time and costs.
“This can be the basis of increased ROI because a company can take
advantage of content management software licenses they have for their
Internet sites for use on their intranet portal,” says Lisa Sulgit, a New York-based
intranet consultant and an associate of Prescient Digital Media.
“Actually, Cisco has made use of the same taxonomy for all content
management regardless of where the content will eventually be
presented. P&G is in the midst of moving to a corporate branding
and content management strategy, taking advantage of economies of scale
and helping to provide uniform employee and customer
Empowering employees to publish their
own content will not only produce ROI savings, but also ease the
content burden of corporate communicators.
Having spent a portion of her career stewarding Time Inc.’s
intranet, Time Traveler, Sulgit explains that Time was able to benefit
from significant discounts on their content management system because
Time’s Internet team had already made a substantial investment in
Vignette. “If nothing else, companies can take advantage of pricing
discounts using the same CM system throughout.”
Finally, it’s obvious that if employees are using a content
management system to submit content for live publishing or the
necessary approvals, then the organization is achieving additional
productivity savings from corporate communicators and content managers
who can redirect their efforts towards more productive pursuits.
(For more on ROI, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
for a free copy of Prescient’s most recent version of its widely read
white paper “Intranet ROI” featuring a new section on content
Employees are largely an over-looked resource for hungry
intranets, but more and more organizations are tapping into this
knowledge basin. The payoff for empowering employees to drive content
can be invaluable while easing the burden on communicators who continue
to struggle with ‘feeding the monster’.
Read Part II of Feeding The
where we examine how Time Inc. is encouraging employee
participation and responsibility for driving content, and the
importance of standards and guidelines in the content process.
A former journalist and a regular e-business columnist and
speaker, Toby Ward is a senior intranet consultant and the founder of
Prescient Digital Media.