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Exploit email to strengthen your intranet

Monday, October 23, 2006  

Many IT managers would like their intranet to reduce the organization’s dependence on email. Is this realistic?

Email is an incredible communication and collaboration tool: It’s freeform, multimedia (with attachments), easy to learn, easy to use, and platform-independent. It’s not going anywhere.

So instead of trying to reduce email with your intranet, consider how you can exploit email to strengthen your intranet:
Send links to important announcements
Don’t send “all staff” emails of important announcements. Instead, publish the announcement to the intranet, and then send an “all staff” email with a link to the article.

Subscribe to email alerts
Allow users to add intranet pages to a “watchlist”. When the page changes, automatically send an email notification to subscribed users.

“Email this page”
Add “email this page” functionality to intranet pages. Users click it to send a page link to colleagues via email.

Publish content via email
Allow users to publish content to the intranet by sending an email to a special inbox. (Wiki software products like Confluence, SocialText and ThoughtFarmer support this kind of functionality.)
Your intranet may do nothing to reduce the size of your inbox. But if you embrace it, email could do wonders for your intranet.

Further reading:

About the Author

I'm Chris McGrath, an intranet consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I've been working on intranets since 1997, and on plain ol' web sites for even longer. I run One Intranets, the firm that co-created ThoughtFarmer -- an enterprise collaboration platform for Windows-based intranets.