Friday, August 25, 2006

When an intranet case study is actually a portal sell job

The process of conferences is an interesting one. The financial pressures of involving sponsors and exhibitors is important so that events actually proceed and let's face it without conferences or events many of us will not have the chance to meet other intranet or portal professionals.

What I find somewhat annoying is when a highlighted case study is actually turned into a chance for a company to focus on selling software to what is essentially a captive audience (difficult to get up and walk out in the middle of 60 people in a conference).

So let's look at the actual 'case study'. I won't mention the company (yeah pretty gutless of me) or conference involved as that will be pretty easy (for the few readers I have) to identify themselves.

Things to look out for:

  • The presenter is not an intranet/knowledge/web etc manager but a 'Sales Leader' (Sure it's really obvious to me now...)
  • There are lots of screenshots of said 'portal' but the focus is on cost savings and 'enterprise solutions' rather than processes and users
  • Content and the actual intranet /portal team are not mentioned
  • On question of 'So what problems do you have with the site ?'- answer is 'none' (is there really an intranet or portal in the world that really has no problems?? Come on do I really look that stupid?)
  • The presentation is really really slick and the presenter is defensive and cannot handle questions during the presentation
  • There is a big sign of the said company up the front of the room
  • Functionality presented is pretty much out of the reality realm of most organisations
  • The presenter dismisses comments from previous presenter who is a vendor-neutral free thinking and idea sharing sort of bloke
  • Presenter talks about white paper marketing material from his company as 'free IP'.

To be fair the site looked really good and said company really has put their software to great use internally and they have some great figures to back them up. But they are a slick multinational IT company with lots of innovators and early adopters. This doesn't apply to the majority of companies or people in the audience.

When I see a case study from one of the world's leading organisations I really want to hear about the site not the software that drives it. If you want to do a sales job leave it for the next room.

Next time get your intranet manager to front up and talk about the realities of managing intranets and portals. They'll be far more appreciated by those of us that are in the operational trenches and simply won't buy your perfect world view. We'll probably also be more likely to actually go and investigate your software rather than feeling they've already watched an hour long commercial.

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At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Michael Sampson said...

Good on you for raising this Nick. I think the said presenter could have used his time well to give a case study on it, but it requires that the conference company and the overall moderator have an opportunity to see and "direct" the content of the presentation before the day. I don't know what brief was given to the presenter, but the more directed this is the better.

And in terms of questions from the floor, yes, the turning off of those turned me off too.

It was great to meet you. I hope that T-shirt is coming in handy :-)


At 5:59 PM, Anonymous MikeE said...

Thanks for the constructive criticism Nick, do you mind if I forward them to the relavent people?


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