We have seen how the Internet can impact relationships with customers and suppliers. These two areas of Customer Relationship Management and Supply Chain Management are being transformed with the Internet. In the coming year, the Business-to-Employee (B2E) sector will become hot. According to IDC, “Investment in Intranets have lagged those in Internets and Extranets, accounting for less than 15% of total eBusiness investment (in the US). In 2000 many companies provided Intranet access to employees — that access will drive increased investment.”
Employees are at the heart of every organisation. How they interact with each other, how they leverage information and how they make decisions directly impacts the business. Writes the Economist:
The Internet’s uses turn out to dovetail beautifully with current trends. As companies become more fragmented and their workers more geographically dispersed, managers need a way to rally the troops. In particular, they need a way to build a corporate culture: that intangible something that binds employees together and teaches them to understand instinctively the defining qualities of the business and the appropriate way to respond to any issue that confronts them. The Internet provides the means to do this.
Let us look at the applications which can make a big difference within organisations:
Messaging: Email has been and continues to remain the killer app on the Internet. Along with Instant Messaging, the Internet has helped dramatically bring down the cost of the communications, and simultaneously, speed up its pace. A few years ago, a turn-around time of 3-4 days in communications may have been acceptable. But today, one expects replies in near near-time, or at most, a few hours. The challenge going ahead (which unified messaging aims to address) is to ensure reachability in a manner convenient to the end user wherever the person is. This will also mean that the number of messages we will each be handling will go up quite dramatically.
Collaboration: We are inherently dependent on others to get our work done, so this means that we need to interact with others, we need to communicate with other, share information and ideas – in many cases, across different offices. The Internet is the perfect medium to make this happen. There is now a greater emphasis on teamwork on getting tasks done. Technologies like e-Rooms help groups to store documents, plans and correspondence related to a specific project on a website in a secure manner. Combined with bulletin boards, they also create a mechanism to tap into the pool of knowledge among employees.
Training: There is a need for continuous retraining of employees. By making available courses on the Intranet which employees can take in modules based on their skill levels and whenever they have time, organisations can better absorb new technologies down the line faster.
Administration: There are a lot of routine tasks which employees do that are ideally suited to an Intranet — filling in expense forms, booking internal conference rooms, planning travel, checking internal policies. By moving these to a forms-driven system on the internal Web, companies can not only better monitor what is happening, but also cut down processing overheads.
The Corporate Portal (or the Enterprise Information Portal) helps put all of this together.