» Archive for the 'Portals' Category

In the briefing room: Comintelli Knowledge XChanger

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by Cody Burke

The battle to find the right piece of content at the right moment is a never ending quest for the knowledge worker.

Calling all cars...

While most companies have organized their various internal content stores and many have contracted for authoritative external content from sources such as Factiva and LexisNexis, this is only half the battle.

All of this progress notwithstanding, a knowledge worker often has to search through multiple systems to find exactly what he is looking for.  Frequently, he may not end up with the best and most up-to-date content because the individual searches produced results different from those an aggregated search would have presented.

Comintelli, a Swedish company founded in 1999, addresses this challenge with its Knowledge XChanger offering.  The solution aggregates content from both internal and external sources and then classifies, organizes, and presents relevant items to knowledge workers.  The content is packaged and delivered to work groups in a role-based and customized format so that only the most relevant information is presented.  Additionally, users select topics and enter search terms to further drill down on an area and refine the result set.

Knowledge XChanger allows knowledge workers to publish information through an easy-to-use browser-based interface or via e-mail.  In addition, the system supports commenting, voting, and chat around content.

Users can personalize how they receive information by using automatic e-mail alerts and/or via a customized start page.

When the user does perform a search, he is tapping into content that has been drawn from vetted and authoritative sources, which could include internal sites or select external sources such as news sites as well as from content providers such as Factiva.

A particularly valuable feature in Knowledge XChanger is the ability to find experts on a given topic.  The system uses Knowledge Points, a customizable feature that assigns points to users based on activities, to determine expertise.  For instance, a user may receive points for every time he reads an article, searches on a term, or comments on content.  Users can search for individuals who have expertise in a given area.

Tools such as Knowledge XChanger are key components on the road to the development of true Collaborative Business Environments.  In addition, by aggregating and delivering timely and relevant role-based content to the knowledge worker, the system tackles several aspects of Information Overload relating to search and information management.

Finally, by supporting expertise location with the system’s ability to associate individuals in an organization with topics they have knowledge and interest, Comintelli has taken a big step in improving knowledge sharing and collaboration by connecting knowledge workers to each other and jump-starting the collaboration process.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

In the briefing room: DotNetNuke

Thursday, October 29th, 2009 by Cody Burke

Finding a content management system that fits your needs is far from simple.

DotNetNuke's Marketplace

DotNetNuke's Marketplace

Indeed, as content creation skyrockets and organizations increasingly need to offer robust Web sites and portals for both internal and external use, the options become dizzying.  The ability to customize and develop channels such as Web sites, intranets, and community portals is increasingly attractive and necessary in a competitive market, no matter what business a company is in.

An offering that provides those kinds of customization options is DotNetNuke, a versatile open source development platform.  The DotNetNuke project, and eventually the company, evolved out of a modified version of Microsoft’s IBuySpy Portal that was released in early 2002 under a liberal end-user license agreement allowing modification.  By late 2002, Shaun Walker, who would go on to found DotNetNuke, released his own modified version that added features and sparked an active and vibrant open source developer community.  The project was renamed DotNetNuke in February 2003 and DotNetNuke Corp. was incorporated in September 2006.

DotNetNuke is an open source content management and application development framework for the Microsoft .Net software framework.  Like other commercial open source vendors, DotNetNuke has grown up around a specific product, in this case the .Net software framework.  The company offers a free Community Edition, and sells Premium and Elite Editions that include expanded features sets and support options.  At its core, the platform is designed to enable users to build Web sites that are customizable through use of open source modules and skins (basic reusable HTML files for graphical presentation that have placeholders for content) that the company provides via its online marketplace.

The platform includes modules for login, announcements, blogs, chat, events, FAQs, feedback, forms and lists, forums, help, newsfeeds, reports, search, site logs, surveys, users and roles, and wikis.  From there, users can customize the system by using modules and skins that an active community of developers and partners maintain.  A visit to www.snowcovered.com (which was recently acquired by DotNetNuke and replaces the company’s own marketplace), reveals a thriving ecosystem of third party modules and skins offering everything from event calendar and registration, video gallery, and document library modules and an expansive selection of skins for tweaking the look of a Web site.

When considering commercial open source solutions, the number of active developers and community members is reflective of the health of the project. What is attractive about DotNetNuke is the large and thriving ecosystem that, when paired with the modular approach the company takes with the platform, gives organizations the ability to set up sites and have a wide range of options for customizing them for their specific needs. This makes DotNetNuke a platform that will end up on more and more organizations’ short lists.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

In the Briefing Room: Oracle WebCenter 11g

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by Cody Burke

The recent trend towards updating portal platforms with a variety of social features and mashup capabilities is indicative of the growing recognition that this sort of functionality has significant potential business value.  Social software and collaboration tools, which have become increasingly popular in the consumer space, facilitate the kind of tacit and ad hoc interactions that can drive productivity and increase knowledge sharing.  This shift is occurring in lockstep with the move towards the Collaborative Business Environment (CBE).

Today’s companies use a variety of tools and platforms to support knowledge sharing and collaboration. This has proven wholly unsatisfactory because knowledge workers frequently can’t find the information they are looking for and find themselves perpetually reinventing the wheel, resulting in a loss of efficiency and effectiveness.  Help, however, is on the way.  As companies move more and more towards the model of the Collaborative Business Environment, a term Basex uses to describe an all encompassing workspace that will supersede the traditional desktop metaphor in a period three to five years out, the lines between different types of software and tools will begin to blur and eventually disappear.

Solutions that will serve as a Collaborative Business Environment will come from “traditional” IT software vendors as well as new upstarts.  One platform worth looking into comes from Oracle.

Oracle WebCenter Suite 11g is the latest release of the company’s enterprise portal platform. It adds social features that begin to move the product to be more in line with current trends towards social and ad hoc communities and collaboration.  Using Oracle WebCenter Spaces, users can set up formal or ad hoc work spaces and communities for team members and projects; these can be assembled on the fly and function as team portals.  Oracle WebCenter Services enables tagging, linking, rating, recent activity feeds, RSS, and networks of personal connections to be integrated into existing business applications.  Applications themselves can be manipulated and customized into mashups via Oracle Composer, a browser-based tool.  A catalogue of applications and content is also available through Oracle Business Directory, a library of enterprise applications, processes, content, and business intelligence that can be utilized to create custom dashboards.  WebCenter has the potential to serve as the foundation for a Collaborative Business Environment, supporting a single work environment and social tools that can reduce friction in knowledge sharing.

In addition to Oracle WebCenter, Oracle recently introduced Oracle Beehive, which provides a collaboration platform with team workspaces, instant messenger and presence awareness support, blogs, and wiki capabilities.  The combination of Oracle WebCenter and Beehive will provide companies with a solid foundation for a platform that integrates traditional portal functionality with social software and collaboration tools, thus bringing knowledge workers into an integrated environment that supports knowledge sharing and collaboration, and ultimately, helps them find what they are looking for.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.  He can be reached at cburke@basex.com

In the briefing room: Bluenog ICE

Thursday, June 25th, 2009 by Jonathan Spira and Cody Burke

Ten years ago, Basex laid the groundwork for the Collaborative Business Environment (CBE), a conceptual framework for a workspace for the knowledge worker that is now starting to supersede the traditional desktop metaphor of separate and distinct tools.  A properly designed CBE facilitates knowledge sharing and collaboration and, especially in today’s economic environment, managers are looking to technology to give their organizations a competitive advantage.

Bluenog, an enterprise software company, this week released Bluenog ICE 4.5 (ICE stands for integrated collaborative environment), the latest version of the company’s enterprise software suite.  Bluenog integrates multiple open source software projects to form the basis of its platform.  The company, through its professional services division, will further integrate ICE into an organization’s existing systems.

Bluenog ICE originally included content management, portal, and business intelligence functionality.  ICE CMS is a content management system built on Apache Cocoon, Apache Lucene, OS Workflow, TinyMCE, and HippoCMS open source projects.  ICE Portal is a portal solution that leverages Apache Portals, Apache Jetspeed-2, Apache Wicket, Adobe Flex, and Spring Source.  ICE BI provides business intelligence and reporting and is based on Eclipse BIRT and Apache Jackrabbit.

These core components have all received enhancements for the new release.  The HTML editor in ICE CMS has been replaced by the TinyMCE HTML editor and ICE BI has improved report viewing and search integration.  Also new for this release is ICE Central, a simplified central management console for all ICE components, and a propagation tool to move content, portal artifacts and configurations across environments.

These improvements are all worthy of note but what may really help organizations realize significant enterprise productivity and efficiency gains is that Bluenog added significant collaborative technology to ICE, namely ICE Wiki and ICE Calendar.  The wiki component is based on the JSPWiki, Apache Jackrabbit, Apache Lucene, and Apache FileUpload open source projects.  The wiki is accessed through an ICE portlet and features rich HTML editing page level permissions, version control, reporting on page and link usage through ICE BI, the ability to manage attachments, support for wiki markup language, and support for multiple wikis running on a single server.

Wikis are an increasingly popular tool for content management within organizations of all sizes and ICE Wiki allows non-technical knowledge workers to create, edit, and maintain content using a fairly easy-to-understand interface.

ICE Calendar is a group calendaring application based on the open source Bedework project.  Just as in ICE Wiki, the calendar is available as an ICE portlet, and enables publishing of events, workflowing of events for approval, and importing and exporting events to other iCalendar-based calendars.

Bluenog ICE falls into the category of commercial open source software.  It’s built using open source projects but sold as a commercial package.  Virtually unknown several years ago, commercial open source is becoming a popular alternative for organizations of all sizes that want the openness of open source but don’t necessarily have the skills to do the heavy lifting to deploy and integrate multiple open source projects.

We’ll be taking a look at the changes that are taking place in the content management space, including where commercial open source fits in, in a report slated for next month.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.
Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

Lotusphere: Yellow is the New Black

Friday, January 25th, 2008 by Jonathan Spira

This week was the 15th annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Florida.  It was my 15th as well, although my count includes three Lotuspheres in Europe.

IBM unleashed a fire hose of announcements at the opening general session.  We’ll try to walk through the most interesting ones here.  It’s a lot of material but you should read through it regardless of whether you use mostly IBM tools or mostly Microsoft tools as there are implications here for all.

One memorable moment from the conference’s opening session: Mike Rhodin,  the general manager of Lotus Software, aped Steve Job’s keynote from MacWorld in which Jobs introduced the MacBook Air by pulling it out of an envelope.  Rhodin pulled the new (and very yellow) Lotus Foundations server out of an envelope.

Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0.1
While this may sound like an insignificant maintenance release, it most definitely isn’t.  There are some significant enhancements to be found in it.  (Of course, the move from dot-zero usually allows companies to start deploying the new version as many of them are allergic to dot-zero releases.)

8.0.1 includes several significant updates including My Widgets and Traveler.  My Widgets (which some, including IBM execs, call a Web 2.0 feature) uses a technology called Live Text that identifies patterns and phrases and associates them with an appropriate widget. (Live Text is similar to what Microsoft calls Smart Tags.)  One example would be the recognition of an address within an e-mail message and the ability to automatically display directions from the recipient’s location to that address.

Another example is retrieving real-time flight information by clicking on a flight number in an e-mail or itinerary.  Knowledge workers can add (via drag-and-drop) an almost unlimited number of widgets including Google Gadgets, feeds, Web pages, or custom programs to the widgets panel in the Lotus Notes sidebar.

8.0.1 also includes Domino Web Access Lite.  This is a browser-based e-mail client optimized for low bandwidth environments.  It’s AJAX based and includes in-line spell check, rich editing, and Google Maps integration.  The standard version of Domino Web Access has a much faster startup time.  Finally, 8.0.1 adds 35% compression for mail files.  Lotus is introducing some compression with 8.0.1 and further compression with 8.5 (see below).

Lotus Notes Traveler is a very cool client for Windows Mobile devices that provides automatic, real-time replication of e-mail (including attachments, calendar, contacts, etc.) to the mobile device.

Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5
8.0.1 may be hot off the press but IBM is not sitting still.  Notes and Domino 8.5 will support AJAX, style sheets, and RSS or Atom feeds.  It also supports better ID management, compression technologies that can reduce storage requirements by up to 35% for attachments on Domino servers, and also reduce overall disk space requirements for databases by up to 35%.  Lotus will also update templates for discussion databases and document libraries and introduce Domino Designer 8.5, the first Designer client based on the Eclipse and Lotus Expeditor frameworks.  This will provide a full palette of AJAX-based controls that you can drag-and-drop directly into Notes and Domino applications.

Lotus Protector
IBM wouldn’t skimp on naming, this is really called IBM Lotus Protector for Mail Security, but what’s key here is that this is a hardware appliance (in bright yellow) that provides virus and spam protection through the IBM Proventia Network Mail Security System.  Protector also uses IBM Internet Security Systems’ threat mitigation and information security technologies and the IBM ISS X-Force research and development team played a significant role here.

Beta 4 of IBM’s desktop productivity tools, based on an open programming model, will be available by the end of this month.  The new beta allows software vendors to connect documents to applications; documents can access and manage applications such as the issuance of a shipping order or an invoice directly from a spreadsheet.  Information flows both ways; inventory data can pass into Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets for analysis.

Companies will be able to use the workflow inherent in Notes in conjunction with composite apps that are built using the Symphony tools.

IBM is making available a series of plug-ins including IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting, Lotus Sametime Unyte Share, and IBM WebSphere Translation Server on the Symphony community Web site.

IBM Applications on Demand for Lotus Notes
IBM Applications on Demand for Lotus Notes provides a hosted and managed environment for Notes and Domino as well as Sametime, Lotus Connections, and Lotus Quickr tools.

IBM Lotus Mashups
Mashups allows knowledge workers to create enterprise mashups such as ad hoc visualizations created by blending information or data from both enterprise repositories and the Web.

It includes a browser-based tool for mashup creation; ready-for-use widgets; a catalog for sharing and locating additional widgets and mashups; a builder for the creation of widgets that can access enterprise systems.

IBM Lotus Connections 2.0
The new version of Connections features a new home page built using Lotus mashup technology which aggregates and filters social data from the five Connections services, namely Profiles, Communities, Blogs, Dogear, and Activities.  This allows knowledge workers to see what’s new across their professional networks and find the information they need to finish projects.

Lotus has also enhanced the community component of Connections with discussion forums and the ability to link to various wikis including Lotus Quickr, SocialText, and Atlassian.

IBM Lotus Quickr 8.1
Lotus Quickr is IBM’s Collaborative Business Environment for teams.  The new version adds content libraries, team discussion forums, Weblogs, wikis, and new connectors to information sources.  IBM will release Lotus Quickr Entry, which will serve as a entry-level version of the platform.  IBM Also announced plans to integrate Quickr with various enterprise content management systems such as IBM FileNet P8 and IBM Content Manager.

Lotus Foundations
IBM hasn’t focused on smaller organizations, which it defines as businesses with five to 500 employees, in years.  Lotus Foundations is intended to be a line of Linux-powered software servers that are offered through IBM Business Partners.

IBM is counting on simplicity – the server software will require little technical expertise and will be autonomic – to appeal to this audience.  This means it should install without requiring an IT department to deploy and administer it.  The first Foundations offering will be a server with the Lotus Domino mail and collaboration platform, file management, directory services, firewall, backup and recovery, and office productivity tools pre-installed.

A key component of Foundations comes out of IBM’s acquisition last week of Net Integration Technologies, a privately-held company that provides a simplified business server software solution for small businesses.  It’s not a coincidence that the company’s platform supports e-mail, file management, directory services, back-up and recovery, and office productivity tools.

IBM and SAP announced a joint offering, code-named “Atlantic.”  Atlantic will integrate information from the SAP Business Suite into the Lotus Notes client, allowing knowledge workers to remain in one environment for more of their work.

Another interesting if somewhat amorphous announcement was the beta of a Web-delivered service with the code name “Bluehouse.”  Bluehouse provides extranet services (file sharing, instant messaging, social networking, Web conferencing, and project management) that allow smaller companies to collaborate with one another.

Lotus Open Collaboration Client Solution
IBM will offer an integrated Lotus Open Collaboration Client Solution with support for Ubuntu, a Linux-based operating system from Canonical.  Ubuntu is popular for thin-client and desktop/laptop applications (as opposed to servers).  The client is based on Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Symphony.  The client supports e-mail, calendar, unified communications, as well as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities that support the Open Document Format (ODF).  It’s built on Lotus Expeditor, which is based on the open source Eclipse Rich Client Platform.

Full support for Ubuntu within Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony is planned with Lotus Notes 8.5 in the second half of 2008.  The Lotus Symphony office productivity suite is included with Lotus Notes 8 and is also available as a separate download, at no additional charge.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

Report from Lotusphere 2005

Friday, January 28th, 2005 by Jonathan Spira

IBM Lotus Domino

IBM announced a suite of product enhancements, tools and resources for the IBM Lotus Domino environment.  IBM Lotus Domino Designer 7 allows Domino to integrate with other systems using industry-standards based Web services.  It includes a new Web service design element that allows Domino developers the option to code the Web service using their familiar LotusScript interface or Java.  Business logic coded in LotusScript could be called from any system that supports Web services.  Lotus Domino Designer 7 also has built in support for Web Services Description Language (WSDL), and includes the ability to use IBM DB2 as an alternative data store for Domino applications.


IBM also unveiled IBM Workplace Collaboration Services.  The new offering is a single, integrated collaboration environment that allows users to collaborate in multiple modes of interaction, including online, telephone, video, in-person and real-time.  IBM Workplace Collaboration Services is built on a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), providing pre-built, reusable collaborative services.  The offering includes templates and forms for event planning, sales, marketing, HR, and customer support.

IBM also introduced the IBM Flexible Hosting Solutions, Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting (WBCR) Service.  The new offering provides a Web-based repository for document and records management to help customers comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

The Answer is Not the Intranet

Sunday, December 15th, 1996 by Jonathan Spira

Zona Research, a Redwood Shores, Calif., market research firm, has described an “Extended Intranet” as an Intranet that promotes close ties and communications between manufacturers, their customers and suppliers, via the World Wide Web.

The word “Intranet” itself is a misnomer, in my view; hence extended intranets (and extranets for that matter) are also problematic. The word ‘internet’ itself is derived from ‘internetworking’ which describes how, from 1969 on, the Darpanet (later Arpanet) linked research and university computing centers in a network-like fashion.

What Zona is inadvertently doing through nomenclature is recognizing something that I have been writing and speaking about for several years: information is a strategic asset of the organization. By making it available when and where needed, transcending time and space, it takes on new dimensions of value.

The ability of an organization to share information oftentimes requires a dramatic change in culture, especially in those environments where hoarding of information is akin to amassing power. The paradigm of the World Wide Web presents a challenge to hoarders; it flattens the informational structure of the organization.

Our observations have been that organizations have developed their Web sites for external consumption and have kept internal personnel ‘in the dark’ about these sites. Hence company employees were not only not able to evangelize the sites but often knew less about them than their customers. Intranets (under the prevailing definition) have been developed along different lines than now-traditional Web sites. They are frequently produced for internal-only (proprietary) use, in many instances for human resource and purchasing departments. They also can contain areas which could be of value to the strategic partner or customer of the organization.

What we have observed is that there needs to be a melding of these various Nets. It is, technologically speaking, relatively easy to grant access on a need-to-know basis, ensuring that customers don’t have access to insider information.

Yet frequently customers and employees alike should have access to the same data, in the same ‘views’. The recent phenomenon of extending Intranets to strategic partners is merely a descriptor of what has been informally taking place since the creation of the World Wide Web itself. What companies truly need to understand is how to create content that is meaningful for their audience, and how to display this content to its best advantage.

Management consultants have always spoken of building ties between strategic partners. And such ‘networks’ have done so before the advent of the Internet itself, using state-of-the-art technology of their time (whether it was paper catalogues, or telex communications). Now the Internet is ready to facilitate such communication. It is ready not because companies are saying it is ready or because software companies are making their applications “internet-enabled”; it is possible because access to the Internet is becoming ubiquitous and customers and partners alike are demanding it.

Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.  This article originally appeared in the Basex Online Journal of Industry and Commerce (BOJIC).

Here Comes the Intranet

Tuesday, February 27th, 1996 by Jonathan Spira

In their February 26, 1996 issue, Business Week led with a cover story on the latest phenomonon to hit the corporate world — the Intranet. Jonathan Spira takes a look at some of the article’s assumptions and questions the reasoning that went into making them.  Business Week’s words are in italics.

Corporations are ‘seizing the Web as a swift way to streamline–even transform–their organizations.’

It is important to remember that many organizations adopted the Web and the Internet without first giving thought to their own internal business processes and planned strategies.  Because of this, many Web pioneers are, upon evaluation, unsatisfied with the fruits of their labor.  One cannot simply open for business and expect the cash register to ring.    So few organizations have been able to meld their marketing and sales strategies with their Web strategies.  Even among those who have taken the time to assess the direction of a Web strategy, many have failed to fully comprehend the paradigm of the Web.  Example:  a major German car manufacturer’s web site invites visitor communication.  How?  When the visitor to this site chooses the appropriate link,
he is invited to call an ’800′ number.  Example:  a professional medical society invites its
visitors to use their physician referral service.  Click on the link, and you get full
information on the phone-based query system, staffed during the business day only.

What’s Needed?  Most companies already have the foundation for an intranet–a network that uses the Internet’s TCP/IP protocol.

This is unfortunately not yet close to being correct.  Those companies, mostly medium- and large-sized organizations, which have internal networks have implemented Novell’s IPX/SPX protocol.  The TCP/IP protocol must be loaded on each network workstation,  and an IP (Internet Protocol) address must be assigned (and subsequently managed). This can represent a tremendous investment in systems administration time. Only those workstations running Windows 95 can easily at TCP/IP to their existing network protocols.

Intranets…pull all the computers, software and databases that dot the corporate landscape into a single system that enables employees to find information wherever it resides.

One of the major limitations that became evident to Web pioneers was the difficulty of linking your web site to a corporate database stored on a “legacy” (read: mainframe) system.  Information Systems professionals also tend to get very nervous about network security when the idea of allowing such access is discussed.  If it is done correctly, with by someone with an in-depth knowledge of such security safeguards as firewalls, it is time-consuming and expensive, but may be well worth the effort. Many organizations have not taken the time to inventory the knowledge that resides within their boundaries; consequently, glaring omissions can take place in terms of making data available corporate-wide when portions of it remain virtually hidden.  Moreover, corporate managers have not yet learned how to manage Web-based information, as evidenced by pages which still read “Last Updated, January 18, 1995″ yet purport to be current.  Even the BW article later refers to the Web as a repository of “static pages.”

Connecting all the islands of information via an intranet is sparking unprecedented collaboration.

For those organizations used to a top-down hierarchy and internal competitiveness, the idea of collaboration is anathema.  Yet, newer companies without an entrenched corporate culture that encourages the proprietariness of one’s customers and information will have an advantage here; startups and smaller firms are used to sharing such things as a necessity.  Query early users of Lotus Notes at large accounting firms: partners with 15, 25 or so years at the firm experienced tremendous culture shock when asked to make client details available to other firm members.

Furthermore, intranets “present” information, i.e. for viewing, a passive activity.  Collaboration implies groups of knowledge workers drafting, reviewing, editing, and changing documents with each member of the group having access to the same tools.

Employees from engineers to office workers are creating their own home pages and sharing details of their projects with the rest of their company

Sharing information is all very well and good, but does corporate America truly wish to turn each engineer and office worker into a mini-Webmaster?  Very few organizations have developed corporate standards to manage this outbreak, and more than just a few CEO’s would blanche were they to realize how much proprietary data were being made available to the “public” without the usual scrutiny that usual security standards would require.

It’s not just the cost of buying Notes or SAP’s R/3 and paying programmers to customize and maintain it.  The other factor tipping the scales…is the cost of training.  Corporate data owners already realize that Webmasters are not terribly less expensive than C++ programmers, if at all.  Good user interface design is universal; intranet designers are not exempted from this.  If the interface is poor, users will suffer the same problems that have faced users since someone decided that the QWERTY keyboard represented an advance in human factors engineering.  (To be perfectly honest, the QWERTY keyboard was designed to slow typists down to prevent the slow mechanical typewriters of the late 19th century from jamming; as a universally-accepted standard typewriter “operating system,” it enabled any trained typist to sit down at any workstation — excuse me, typewriter — and be production.)

Suddenly, the Web provides a simple way to do things that in the past required gobs of complex code and specialized programs.

Since very few Web applications have been created which approach the complexity of even a moderately-advanced word processing program, the true meaning of this is that the gobs of complex code have simply been transferred to Intranet Web servers which funnel requests to legacy systems, in those instances where these links have been established.

The Intranet movement represents that latest thinking in corporate information strategy.  As has been the case with past “fads,” including Client/Server and Local Area Networks (“LAN”), tools which are adopted before their “business case” is analyzed represent advanced technology without a (necessary) foundation for use, a form of “all dressed up with nowhere to go.”  It is, of course, a matter of time before many of the concepts from the Web become an innate part of corporate America, as has become the LAN.  However, recalling that the computer industry  began its LAN attack  by calling 1985 the “Year of the LAN”,  subsequently giving this designation to the years 1986 and 1987 before giving up on trying to herald the LAN’s arrival, and was successful in penetrating the corporate environment only at the end of the decade through the arrival of Novell NetWare, the implications of the Intranet in corporate America are only now starting to scratch the surface.

Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.  This article originally appeared in the Basex Online Journal of Industry and Commerce (BOJIC).