Major companies have finally allowed social networking sites to enter their restricted computer networks, says usability experts.
Jakob Nielsen, principal of the research firm Nielsen Norman Group, revealed during its 13th annual Intranet Design Contest that the world’s top company intranets are gradually adopting the use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks on their homepages.
Social features similar to Facebook services started to move in on company intranets in 2009, but now major intranets are seriously embracing the platform.
Nielsen said, four years ago, intranets began to adopt social networking features but limited it to in-house or internal sharing. These were normally exclusive to directories to improve employees’ profiles and encourage tighter bonds between them.
Intranets today are making good use of events happening beyond the office by directly showing their company’s feeds from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on their intranet homepage, which Nielsen said is a convenient method to update employees on news and upcoming events through the company’s public profile.
Nielsen Norman Group’s report for this year also provides other findings: that the best intranets take years to build and that mobile optimization is still in suspension.
When the firm started its first annual Intranet Design Contest in 2001, it has monitored the time needed to build the best restricted computer networks from the planning stages up to its launching event. Nielsen Norman Group found that the process lasts around 3.5 years on average, but the winners this year only needed 2.3 years on average to design their masterwork.
The firm then noted that improvement in mobile intranet has stalled for the second year in a row, with only one victor from this year’s contest providing a dedicated mobile intranet version. Two other winners provide mobile intranet to employees but neither took time to optimize their site for mobile devices.
Amy Schade, director of Nielsen Norman Group, said the pause in mobile optimization last year was unexpected, but for it to continue this year, at a time when the trend points toward mobile, was more surprising.
The firm said it investigated and analyzed data from the winners and found that most companies are reluctant to use mobile intranet because of several factors: data security issues, multiple platforms to choose from, lack of resources, and doubts about whether to apply a full feature set or a task-specific application.
The organizations with the world’s best intranets this year are the following (in alphabetical order):
- Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.
- American International Group, Inc.
- Hager Group
- Luzerner Kantonalbank AG
- Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)
- Swiss Mobiliar Insurance & Pensions
- XL Group plc