Communicate the benefits of the Information Workplace, which doesn’t yet exist, so business leaders could understand and support this important direction for our enterprise portal, collaboration and messaging architecture.
Illustrated how our corporate portal should look from the user’s perspective, integrating role-based navigation, one-click customization, Web 2.0 social networking features, and enhanced presence-awareness.
Envisioning how new web technologies (Social Computing, Ajax, presence awareness) combined with a truly collaborative, role-based work environment, would look, without an existing portal platform to serve as a guide.
Following several stakeholder meetings and presentations of the Information Workplace concept by Forrester Research, I learned its core tenets and decided to see how our current portal might look in 2-3 years.
Over a three-week period, I took an existing BEA Aqualogic/Plumtree portal v5.04J page and stripped it apart. I flipped the navigation from a pure business organization perspective, to a user’s perspective, as if the entire site were tailored for each user’s site location, job responsibility and position in the company.
Here are some of the principles and technologies the prototype illustrated:
- Role-based, intelligent content: Primary navigation is divided into global company news (My Company), employee work tools (My Work) and employee personal work/life content and tools (My Self). Global company alerts are displayed a la CNN alerts, when you need them, and can be hidden temporarily. Social tagging helps users learn what’s important more quickly.
- Ubiquitous content management: All content provides in-page access and allows users to share, comment, change, bookmark or approve content where they see it, rather than having to find the right tool to do so.
- One-click portal customization: Similar to Google’s portal page, users can expand, collapse or rearrange content on the page without the page reloading. The prototype simulates Ajax server calls to save the user’s recent actions by displaying a “Saved Preferences” dialog, which disappears quickly after appearing.
- Intelligent navigation: Our current site provides long lists of menus to navigate to GSK sites and throughout the organization. The prototype demonstrates how Google Map technology could be used to navigate through the corporate organization via an org chart, or to specific GSK site information using a customized Google Map interface.
- Presence awareness beyond-the-web: Current instant messaging tools know when you are online or offline, but this prototype illustrates how unified messaging will eventually allow the portal to know when you are on the phone, in a meeting, travelling, or just offline.
- Expanded Common Activity menu: Our current portal provides the 8 most common employee activities in a grey menu in the upper left corner. This prototype makes that menu personal, allowing users to expand or collapse it as needed, add or remove menu items, or whole packages depending on their role.
- Integrated work tools: While the prototype is tailored for an IT manager’s role, it illustrates how future portals will provide quick access to the full suite of tools required to do a particular job. The My Work page provides a project pipeline tracker, document and meeting management and discussions in the center space, while a customized Metrics portlet informs the user of his departement’s business impact.
- Intelligent portal controls: Much of our current portal contains rarely-used or difficult interface elements, which distract users from finding content and completing tasks. The prototype hides advanced search controls until you need them, and provides feedback, help and content-owner information at the bottom of the page. The Preferences toolbox allows global control over pop-up window and menu behavior, and custom theme selection.
I presented this prototype to GSK’s CIO management team, and for the first time, many senior executives not only saw the potential of the Information Workplace, but understood how it might look from our company’s perspective.
Project completed in about 3 weeks.