Intranätverk – intranet vendors and the trouble with portals

Detailed overview of the Intranätverk intranet conference, and how to decide if you need a portal.

Thanks to Perttu Tolvanen, of North Patrol, and to Tony Byrne, of Real Story Group, I now have a better idea of which CMS or platform to recommend to meet an organisation’s intranet needs.

IntranatverkIt isn’t about ‘which is the best system’, it’s about matching the system to expectations and capabilities.

It may be typical to create a long list of so called requirements, and then find an intranet system that satisfies all the ‘must have’ requirements. The not-so-funny joke is that many people will look at any list and suggest that SharePoint is the solution. When all you have is a hammer…

The key is capability of the organisation. The IT team members may be prepared to develop widgets, dashboards, workflows and custom apps, but business people might expect something that just works out-of-the-box. There’s a spectrum between platforms and products.


IntraTeamOn the third day of Intranätverk, Tony Byrne went into greater detail around portals, during his afternoon workshop. I find that business leaders use the word ‘portal’ when they want a one-stop shop – a single entryway for every employee. It’s an unrealistic and vague definition, that doesn’t mean much more than a massive intranet home page.

Tony shed sparkling light on the meaning of ‘portal’: it’s about business intelligence (BI) – surfacing data and providing an information dashboard for top management, project managers, and decision makers. It isn’t for ‘everyone’ at all. Different dashboards might be needed by different audiences, and so a portal has to provide the right information to the right people — and all the usual content and workflows of an intranet.

If someone says they need a portal, ask ‘what kind’; ask ‘for what?’.


Annika Appeltoft spoke about the governance that Ericsson developed, and I was struck by their commitment to their intranet by hiring ‘Web Managers’ and by the excellent idea of having an Intranet Content Governance Board that is separate to the general Intranet Governance Board.

Ericsson’s intranet is called ‘internal dot ericsson dot com’ – which isn’t really a name and doesn’t differentiate it from other internal systems.



Kirsi Välimaa spoke about how the Preem (petroleum) intranet focuses on consistent looking ‘landing pages’ that provide overviews, and guide users to consistent looking ‘target pages’ (content pages). Majority of users are happy with the intranet! There was an exclamation (from Per Axbom) about seeing Preem’s three-column layout, as contributors and designers don’t always have a great use for the right-hand column. Preem’s navigation menu items are ordered by popularity / most used, although I don’t know how this was defined beyond sampling usage analytics. Through the day, we also saw navigation in the left-hand column, instead of at the top of the page. This helped separate navigation from ‘the SharePoint ribbon’.    

Designing the UX

Octavia Maddox spoke (virtually from Australia) about the NNGroup award winning intranet from AMP, which is available at home, on mobile, and has a social element built-in. ‘The Hub’, is it is called, impressed the audience with its interface design, and focus on usability (and usability testing).


SharePoint et al.

Tony Byrne spoke about the pros and cons of SharePoint.

Tony reminded us that SharePoint is a platform, not a product. Business people often desire products that ‘just work’.

The treat Tony offers everyone is the Real Story Group’s vendor map. A real service to our industry.


Alternatives to SharePoint

Perttu Tolvanen highlighted alternatives to SharePoint. Suggested Confluence and Liferay could combine to create capable portal for complex publishing needs. You must Perttu’s few slides, below.



Vendor lightning talks

Intrexx, Iris, Liferay, and Yammer / ResponsiveOrg.

Confusion and duplication

Cristina Filipe Araujo spoke about the Bayer digital workplace.



Mads Richard Möller of Intracom and the WIC spoke about how important that activity feed can be, and showed several screenshots of a developing home page design over the years.    


Many thanks to Kristian Norling for inviting me to Intranätverk in Sweden to speak. I rattled though 8.5 major content concerns in 20 minutes, based on my work from ClearBox’s ‘Creating intranet content’ guide (free download). I made my slides immediately available. Also showed a 90 second video – an equation for good comms.

Intranet Design Thinking

Arthur Turksmaa of Iris reminded us not to do ‘intranet surveys’ to find user requirements as people don’t know what they want or need. We have to discover what people actually do and what they want to achieve.

Best practice – hasn’t changed

Martin White pointed out that very few books have been published about intranets, and that his list of ‘best practices’ from 1998 is still, mostly, relevant.

Martin emphasised the need for a decent Information Management Policy, because information is a valuable (and expensive) asset.

End This was the end of the ‘English Day’ but there was a repeat of a Swedish talk:

The third day offered three workshops, one by Tony Byrne about platforms and products, and one by Martin White about search (which I missed as I was hosting my ‘content tactics’ workshop).

It was great to meet so many intranet people, many of whom I’ve tweeted with over the years. Who knew that James Royal-Lawson was a fellow Yorkshire man, considering he’s now a Swedish citizen!


Afterword – by Kristian Norling. (Learn more about the book.)

Martin White’s review

My slides – ‘Content tactics – executing your strategy on the page’

Trends – a review by Niklas Angmyr

Hanna P. Korhonen’s review (Finnish, so use Chrome of Google Translate)

Day 1 summary by IntraTeam / Kurt Kragh Sørenson (Swedish, so use Chrome or Google Translate)

Benefits of control – Day 1 review, by John Berndtsson (Swedish, so use Chrome or Google Translate)

Day 2 summary by Kurt / Kristian

Day 1 and 2 review, by Fredrik Wackå (Swedish, so use Chrome or Google Translate)

Podcast interviews by James Royal-Lawson and Per Axbom, interviewing Kristian, me, plus.

Photo gallery – by Peter Lindberg

Sketchnotes by Francis Rowland

All (or most) presentations from Intranatverk (SlideShare)

Hashtag = #intranatverk

[ Wedge ]

Please help me launch a new intranet un/conference in the UK, please sign-up for details.

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#Intranatverk – #intranet vendors and the trouble with portals: – by @Wedge

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