Legacy issues in accepting Intranet
and how management should act
Since the beginning of the information era, several pattern of managementís behavior in accepting technology were observed. The same pattern still holds today, although in a more complex manner. This relates to the simple outlook in putting emphasis on the most technical elements rather than on the core aspects of the problem. In the early stage of information systemsí introduction, contents maintenance of an information system got the least attention with respect to other technical aspects of the system. We have seen state of the art physical installed information networks with only minimum clear application to catered for. In the Intranet era, we still encounter narrow technological considerations such as the necessary infrastructure, suitable networking technologies, the role of groupware and the development of "middleware" to allow Intranets supporting conventional business applications, typically involving database access. Issues facing management in the introduction of Inranet can be followed by comments emerging from vendors and which to a certain extend influenced management outlook concentrating more on infrastructure and also to a lesser extent to the idea of Intranet as a corporate publishing medium. These involve well-established consideration of systems integration and network administration in relation to infrastructure, technical authoring and marketing in relation to publishing. The focus has largely been on generation of content and the relative merits of different infrastructures and applications.
In fact, these issues present few difficulties for those wishing to implement Intranets, particularly as referring to the fact that Intranet provision is increasingly offered as a managed network service by Internet Service Providers (see previous sub-article # 1 : the development of Intranet).
The fundamental issues for management that relate to the organizational impact and on the ongoing tasks of managing and maintaining the content and administration of Intranets usually get minimum attention.
What should management do ?
The wise thing for management to consider is to get grips at the very early beginning. This is because Intranet pose a number of problems relating to the nature of the information they carry, the responsibility for creating and retrieving information, and the control of the channels of communication, as the progress of development blossoms. Management need to do the following :
- Identify who will be responsible for the management and maintenance of an Intranet
- Establish standards for content creation, quality and acceptable use
- Decide on the relationships that individuals and groups of users will have to the Intranet in terms of security policies, access control and network utilization
- Devise mappings between organizational priorities and organizational structures and the logical and directory structures of the Intranet.
Once these things have been done, the specification on infrastructure, protocols, applications, middleware standards, approaches to network management, and content will follow. The creation of the Intranet itself will then depend on developing an enterprise view of how the system will best serve corporate goals. This view can then be translated into a model of the Intranet itself and its management structure.
The character of messaging in the new map of organizational relation
Corporate messaging developed in close harmony with the delayering and the rationalization of enterprise. The result has been an increased reliance on corporate messaging because of its inherent efficiencies.
As IT - the blood and bones of the endeavor - opens up channels and offers straight cross-functional and cross-layer information flow, the traditional model of relation based on strict functional and hierarchical pattern fall apart. Newer, flatter organization are the new pattern of relation. It is unavoidable, and it leads toward the empowerment of organizational personnel. As it touches the very basic humanís value, it only knows a one way street ahead. No turning back.
The physical relation becomes a spider-web like landscape enabling simple and easy flow of information. However this has its negative side too, where useful messages will be overwhelmed and lost amid a welter of inappropriate or unwanted information. It is called "noise". The real information required may sink in the sea of noises.
Admittedly, e-mail may make communication more efficient by replacing, where appropriate, time-consuming, inconvenient, and frequently unproductive face-toface meeting. Unfortunately unimportant or non-urgent messages sometimes take a prominent share. NCCís guideline bulletin called it "an iron law" of organization that at least 50 % of the information anyone within them receives is irrelevant to the purposes of the organization, trivial, or simply ignored.
Obviously, the flatter enterprise and the e-mailed enabled enterprise need gatekeepers to control information flows. A function for gatekeeping is thus required.
Management of Messaging System
Managing a messaging system draws two important issues to the surface, namely the security and the concerns of the intranet management.
Derive from the UK Department of Trade and Industryís evaluation criteria, three elements of the model are defined. :
- Confidentiality : the right information accessible to the right person and no other. This is central to e-mail as it is to company trading figures.
- Integrity : in the system, the right information is right everywhere. It means that the information sent from sender is not distorted nor deleted in any form, and could safely reached any distanation or receivers as it is intended to serve by design.
- Availability : the right information is accessible when required to whoever legitimately requires it. This means that a message can be read by whoever it is intended for whenever they wish to read it.
The three elements of security above have great many ramifications. These are related to system performance, storage, the routing of messages, authorisation levels and procedures, the sharing of information, message authentication, and the consistency, quality as well as value of information on the system. These things are the necessary concerns of intranet management.
For practical actions the following may include in the management tasks :
- Adequate technological infrastructuer
- The craetion of directories and navigational tolls so that information may be requaested, sent and received with maximum efficiency
- Ensuring that information stored on the system is correct, consistent, useful and rgularly updated.
Legacy system and how management should act, covers in brief how the traditional habits still remains in managementís outlook as the inertia of the old system, and how management should act to take the best advantages out of it. The next article will cover the infrastructure and content of an intranet system.
The Indonesian version of this sub-article can also be retrieved from this "Expert column".