“i want a simpler life. so what i need is… a new intranet”

You’ve heard about the internet of things. Well how about the intranet of things?

by Darren Caveney

Since returning from a week’s holiday, most of which was spent offline, I have developed a strong urge to declutter and strip back life as much as possible.  As with everyone else who has ever had a break from the laptops, tablets and the plethora of online distractions that can over-fill our lives, I felt very slightly liberated by the experience.

This ‘lighter’, simpler way to live then expanded into other areas of my life. Clothes not worn for six-months have been sent off to the charity shop, the garage has been cleared, rubbish has been emptied from drawers, paper sent off to be recycled. It feels good.

So now I am turning my attentions to work.

How and where could I simplify, reduce, and better organise with slicker thinking and fewer distractions? Apps, platforms, sites, tools. On and on and on it goes and in truth I’m not sure how much all of it is really necessary and enriching my life or my professional time. So I am stripping back.

I looked at the sheer number of websites I need to use, or rather I choose to use, to get my work done. It’s big. And I am by no means excessive, many folks will use plenty more sites, resources and platforms and apps than I do.

A typical work day will see me looking at and using…

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, emails and Gmail, DropBox, Flickr, Wikipedia and Wikimedia, Hootsuite, Bitly, YouTube, Trello as a starter for ten.

Then there are the other resources I’ll use like Eventbrite and PayPal plus the ever-growing array of apps sold to us on the basis that they’ll enrich us and make our lives easier.

I’ll also spend anything up to an hour updating the comms2point0 website in the evening. And if I am sourcing links to share on our Twitter feed the next day that will be another hour’s time at night looking for gems of new learning and will spark a trawl around a myriad of websites.

Now this may be an age thing but the number of usernames and passwords required to access many of these sites can be painful too and is adding to my mental burden. There is another, simpler, way I’m sure of it.

So where to begin? I plan two broad swathes of attack.

Firstly, I will reduce the number of websites and social platforms I engage with. First off, Facebook. To be blunt I’m not really a fan of you. If you disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow I wouldn’t miss you one single jot. But as a comms professional I know where you can play an important role in delivering my comms objectives, along with all of the other tools at my disposal. I know how you work, I now your pros and cons, and I endeavour to keep up with your never-ending messing with algorithms. I know how your advertising works and it has paid off handsomely for me in a national campaign. But right now I don’t need anywhere near as much of you in my life. And you can stop with those annoying email notifications all the time too.

GooglePlus. To a lesser extent you fall into this category too. I know you score highly in your own Google Rankings and there is a place for you. I know how you work and where you might fit into my future comms planning. But I don’t need to visit you very often I’m afraid. You’ll not miss me, I know, so I don’t feel bad about this.

The second stage is to look for ways of simplifying and concentrating the resources I need into fewer places, less sites and not quite so many tabs having to be open on my laptop every day.

I got to thinking that wouldn’t it be great if there were a place which held all of my documents, all of my images, all of my emails, my projects, my policies, my plans. Where things could be shared and accessed by those I work with and where conversations can take place to help collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Social media of course does some of this but not all by any means. Yes, yes, I know about the cloud too and all it offers but I am trying to simplify and create fewer places to have to go and be.

‘Less is more’ is one of my favourite maxims for a whole variety of things and I think it is absolutely true in this endeavour of mine.

Then it dawned on me what I needed.

I need an intranet.

I thought about it, and thought about almost all of the intranets I have used as an employee or reviewed as a communications advisor. Almost none of them gave me that list of benefits and features I listed above.

Surely, this would be some kind of weird, step back into a 2005-like experience of gigantic intranet sites which sat dormant and unused in the main.

Is an intranet really what I need?

It might just be.

Now many organisations ditched their intranets. Equally, many still have them. I know of one site which has over 3,000 pages (almost none of them are looked at, as you’d probably guess) Some organisation used Facebook as their intranet. And of course many of us have used platforms like Yammer in the past to see if this is the answer.

What I need is quite simple. A place where I can keep the majority of my things under one safe roof and which makes my working day (and night) easier, freeing up my time to do the fun things we should all do more of.

So I have been looking around at some of the products out there and seeing which ones could be a solution to my de-cluttering objective. They need to be separated out into the tools which will just add to the current large wodge of digital distractions and those which might fit the bill.

Our friends at Knowledge Hub now provide a solution too – Social Hub - other products are available :-) It certainly ticks the box in terms of a place to share and collaborate so I am looking at this too as a part of my ‘digital recce’.

So the culmination of this meandering tale for me has been the realisation that the thing that we all used to bemoan, undervalue and not invest in might just be part of the new solution to a more efficient, slicker, simpler life.

So go make friends with a new kind of intranet.

Darren Caveney is co-creator of comms2point0 and vice chair of LGcomms

image via Wikimedia Commons