The Power of Location: 5 location ideas for your intranet

One of the notable trends within intranets is the move to mobile: the ability to access intranet content and function in a webpage or app format. For many businesses, it’s seen as the next obvious frontier and a great way to engage a larger enterprise audience. But to consider mobile intranet as just simply a way of broadening access is to miss a trick. Embedded in nearly every smartphone these days are GPS chips and gyroscopes (and soon NFC) which provide new intranet opportunities: in short, your current intranet knows who you are, your skills and when you’re available, but through a mobile phone, it will shortly know where you are and, curiously, which way up you’re standing!

So how might these new features be used on an intranet? Here are a few ideas.

1. Location-based information targeting

Targeted content on the intranet is not new — companies have been doing it for years. Traditionally, content is targeted based on a few standard pieces of information such as your job function (to give you industry news for example), your registered office (for specific facility or IT updates), your language (so that you can actually understand the content) and possibly job grade (so that you could provide management news or even confidential executive content). Targeting will be the topic of a future intranetizen list post — look out for that.

But with mobile intranet, you can target content via location data as provided by your smartphone GPS chip. This means that whilst my registered office could be London, for the day that I happen to visit Paris, I could receive local Paris news. This could be details about the Paris office canteen opening hours; it might be information about a broken elevator.

Location-targeted intranet content ensures maximum relevance.

2. Location-based content restriction

In the mid 2000s, countless stories hit the British newstands of senior civil servants who had inadvertently left secret documents on trains, or who had laptops stolen which could have had serious implications for national security. Whilst the information on my intranet is not of that level, yours might be and right now, your employees could be accessing that content just about anywhere in the world. Who is reading it with them, over their shoulder?

Location-based security would allow you to understand where that employee is physically sat whilst accessing your intranet and restrict their view dependent on results. So, you may consider that certain intranet materials can only be accessed from the office — and your mobile data will enable this.

3. Locating Skills

Imagine the scenario: You’re in the office and a panic problem breaks out. You need to form an action group immediately. They need to skilled communicators, speak French, free now and, importantly, be in the Glasgow office right this moment. Your intranet already surfaces so much of these information through integration with exchange, or through employee profiles, but the missing link is location-based tools. On-the-fly team building is coming to your intranet soon.

4. Hotdesker lists

Your HR data tells states you’re based in London, but your mobile says you’re in Paris so your location-powered intranet concludes that where the data doesn’t match, that you’re hotdesking. Build a community amongst your visiting employees by producing a hotdeskers list on your Paris office intranet community page — dynamically. Go one step further with virtual introductions as their profile pages will likely show photographs and even hobbies!

5. Directions to your next meeting

Your intranet knows your schedule and with location-based tools, it knows where you are and where you need to be next. Whilst GPS won’t help locate employees within a building, near field communication tools almost certainly will. It won’t be long until your intranet will be directing you to your next meeting. Don’t be late now.

So this is just fantasy?

No — if you’re not using location-based tools now, you certainly will be in a few years time as the penetration of smartphones in your organisation increases. Naturally, there will be some very genuine concerns about privacy that every organisation will have to address before the big switch on.

What are your experiences of location tools for your intranet? Share your story.

There are 8 comments

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  1. Martin Risgaard

    Good shortlist and also good to see someone joining the discussion about the location based intranet.

    Adoption of location based services may still be low, but once critical mass it reached we are facing some really interesting opportunities when it comes to intranets.

    Obviously there is a HUGE barrier in terms of privacy and whether LBS in a corporate context will violate this, but that said I am equally confident that if you make location based services available on an opt-in basis you may be able to overcome some of these.

    Of course this will have an impact on the user adoption speed and rate which most certainly will be slower. This may not be an issue since I believe that Location Based Services will have a relatively small – albeit very dedicated – audience…. but let’s see where we end up 🙂

    Janus Boye (and to a certain degree myself) wrote a post on FourSquare in a corporate context where we also touch on this: http://jboye.com/blogpost/foursquare-useful-for-b2b-online-professionals/

  2. EphraimJF

    Great post Digital J!

    I almost peed my pants with intellectual excitement contemplating what you’ve written. Here’s what stands out:

    1: I don’t want the company to restrict my information access based on where I am. Maybe this is useful the gov’t security agencies, but that would really bug me.

    2: How soon before every piece of intranet news includes geo-tagging? Set the default to the publisher’s home office, but allow it to change if the publisher’s mobile phone shows she’s in a different location.

    3: “Hotdesker list” Imagine a dynamically updated list on the intranet of “visiting colleague” based on employees’ mobile phone GPS locations. You could even setup automatic alerts to people the visiting colleague works with.

    As per usual, thanks for the stimulating post.

  3. @DigitalJonathan

    … or an alert for the people you’re trying to avoid! Thanks for the comments Ephraim.

  4. Sam Marshall

    Some great ideas there Jonathan. The content restriction one particularly caught my attention – you could do it in quite subtle way by reminding employees of security risks if they open a sensitive document in a public place or raising\lowering the screen lock time.
    I agree with Ephraim though, I wouldn’t want an absolute block. It’d just make me print things out more.

  5. Samuel Driessen

    Nice post, Jonathan! Really liked your list. I’d like to add: location and physical devices (‘where’s the server hanging out?’) and expertise and location (‘where’s the nearest expert on a certain topic?’).
    I’ve blogged about enterprise location as well on my blog. For instance about the use of internal maps (Google Maps for the enterprise) and expertise and location.

  6. Neil

    Nice list Jonathan. I like the one about building teams on the fly. Could see this working here at WWF.

    I really believe that the underlying trend that you have highlighted is not necessarily about mobile, but more about personalization on the intranet.

    Geotagging content can also be useful for orphaned content on the intranet. I also like Ephram’s idea about alerts for visiting colleagues. I was thinking about this when i saw this app demoed.

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