Out of the Box Intranets – Are They a Myth?

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Out of the Box Intranets – Are They a Myth?

By | 2017-09-15T09:49:56+00:00 April 5, 2011|Intranet Software, Social Intranets|

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a prospect. We have been working with them on their evaluation of Intranet Connections and I was pulled in for my thoughts on our company vision and future direction. The conversation steered towards our value proposition, which at its core is about intranet simplicity and value-add. Interestingly, our work in social media and the fact that we focus on value and passion for engagement with employees – not pushing our software – was one of the deciding factors in selecting our solution as the candidate for their intranet software. That and we are truly, out of the box. Simple versus the complex.

Despite its title, this post really isn’t about selling the advantages of turnkey intranets and arguing if they are a myth or not. It is more about transparency, in a modern world of social responsibilities.  Prospects that find us are often in the midst of spending months researching various intranet solutions. They have viewed product videos; they have looked through glossy screen snaps and have read impressive case studies. We all have our own spin on marketing and putting our intranet software in the best possible light. I get it. We do it too. What I take issue with is false advertising, and I am hearing it a lot lately from our prospects.

It kind of looks like this: those beautiful, glossy screen snaps of customer intranet sites are thanks to a team of consultants, a graphics artist, and designer charging you big bucks to achieve that look – I’m talking big dollars, more than the cost of the software/platform. Impressive case studies on big brand companies? Dig deeper and you find out they started with the vendor’s intranet platform, but then paid $300,000 in customization, modifications and consulting fees.  The case study you are reading is actually of a custom intranet. To do something similar is going to cost you a lot more than what the web site states for product pricing.

I’m not saying using consultants and designers is the wrong way to achieve an intranet, but if you are a vendor who promotes turnkey, and you say your intranet software is out-of-the-box; shouldn’t your costs be out of the box too?

Transparency wins, not just in social media but in your business and marketing.

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By | 2017-09-15T09:49:56+00:00 April 5, 2011|Intranet Software, Social Intranets|

About the Author:

Carolyn Douglas, Founder of the software Intranet Connections, started her endeavor of creating intranets out of a passion to cater to employees rather than technology. Her philosophy is your intranet can have all the bells and whistles but without employees using it, your intranet is gathering dust. This commitment to simple and easy to use intranet software, combined with amazing customer service that delivers the best of employee engagement ideas and practices, has secured Intranet Connections as one of the leading intranet solutions since its inception in 1999.

6 Comments

  1. Mark Ragan April 5, 2011 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Carolyn,

    Wow. Anyone considering a so-called out-of-the box solution should study your post because you are dead on right.

    The customer is lured in to a sales call with the promise of an off-the-shelf solution, but within five minutes you realize that you’re going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars to match the look and feel of what you saw in the marketing.

    Thanks for the candor (and transparency) of this post.

    Mark Ragan
    CEO
    Ragan.com, PR Daily

  2. Carolyn Douglas April 6, 2011 at 2:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to comment Mark! I am a big fan of Ragan.com. It is a fantastic resource for Communications and anyone who manages an intranet. I hope to attend one of your conferences or workshops in 2011.

    http://www.ragan.com

  3. Sean R. Nicholson April 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Great post, Carolyn!

    I can’t count the number of RFP presentations that I have sat through thats showed off designs that are “easy to accomplish”, “just a few clicks away” or “something that your admins can implement in a couple of hours”. Fortunately, my teams were usually very aware that what you see in a presentation is rarely what you get when you install the software for the first time. This lack of transparency isn’t limited to Intranet portal vendors, either, I have seen it on the Document Management, ECM, and ERP, and CRM sides of the house too.

    I even witnessed a situation where a digital agency charged a client to “mock up” what the portal would look like before the software was ever selected. When I asked the digital agency how they knew that the features mocked up would even be included in the software, they responded with “if it’s not included, we can build it.”….meaning more money.

    I agree that the best vendors are those that are open and honest about what their software can (and can’t) do. I always look for vendors who aren’t looking to be my “software vendor”, but my “project partner”. They need to be willing to stand right next to me and explain any differences in costs or disparities in features with the client. Those that know their software inside and out and take the time to understand the required business processes are generally the ones that I’m going to choose.

    There are some great vendors out there that are a pleasure to work with and I highly encourage anyone looking to purchase enterprise software to take the time to really get to know your prospective vendors. Investing thousands (and sometimes millions) of dollars and committing to a multi-year engagement is something that should be taken very seriously.

    Again, great post Carolyn. A topic I am passionate about, as well 🙂

    –Sean
    IntranetExperience.com , SocMedSean.com

  4. Bryan Ruby April 8, 2011 at 9:58 am - Reply

    This is a good discussion. Ideally, I would prefer “out of the box” product over customized products. I think too often companies and organizations want a CMS to match their status quo of doing business that they often don’t take advantage of more streamlined and modern business procedures that are offered by the product. But the reality is that somewhere down the line the company wants something on the Intranet that is not standard to the product…and you’re right that’s where the trouble begins.

    I do hope though in this day and age, the CEO, CFO, and especially the CIO have enough understanding of the CMS market to call the marketers or consultants on their bluff. If those case studies lack the information how a company used a product to get from Point A to Point B…the customer really needs to ask how did they get there and how much? If the seller refuses to get into the details or does not refer to those that can answer the technical questions…then red flags need to go up. You’re right, it is all about transparency…which is why ‘m confused when a customer knows the fog is blocking their view but continues forward anyway. I suppose what I’m getting at is as much as I blame the saleman, I think the decision maker also shares the blame for failed projects. Shame on all for not demanding transparency and yet willing to move forward without it in the discussion.

  5. Carolyn Douglas April 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    I would hope that most B2B software vendors are invested – in their products, in their customers; and that they run their business with integrity. For those that do not, I can only imagine it will be a struggle to win over business in this modern age of transparency.

    Thank you Mark, Bryan and Sean for taking the time to comment.

    Be sure to check out these following resources in your research for intranet & CMS software solutions. They hold a wealth of information on intranet best practices and trends.

    http://www.cmsreport.com
    http://www.intranetexperience.com
    http://www.ragan.com

  6. […] they have a sizeable degree of autonomy, with companies providing emphasis on trust, culture, and transparency. As the company offering this type of culture, your reward is a happy and productive talent pool […]

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