Last week we talked about the end user as the customer for our Intranet and I proposed that we look at them more as product than as customer.  To recap, our definition of a customer is: someone that buys or pays, for a product or service.  So, let’s look at another potential customer…the Executives or the Company as a whole.

The Executives certainly have the budget for an Intranet, but do they actually make use of the product or service?  That is where the answer starts to fall apart.  Let’s look at the problem this way.  How many users do you have in your organization?  100, 500, 1000, more?  How many are executives?  5, 10, 25?  If we look to them as the customer then we are going to build and design our system to meet their needs, and frankly they aren’t enough of them to really be able to make that valuable.  We decided that the customer is the product because they aren’t paying for the Internet, but they are certainly its focus.  The Executives can pay, but they are NOT its focus either as users or in achieving their mission.  Yes, Executives have a mission, but that mission tends to be more strategic than tactical, and while we definitely want to ensure that the Intranet fulfills that mission…it is more of a guiding principle than specific design.  Let’s look at an example.

But first a question.  How easy is it for you to get a meeting with an Executive in your organization.  By that I don’t mean the CIO or CTO, but the COO or CEO, a non IT C-level employee.  This is no easy task for IT people…and if you do, you will be seen as an IT person who is expected to talk IT topics with them, not strategy, corporate goals, or similar.  But let’s assume that you do get that meeting and they speak frankly with you on the topic.  If you ask your CEO or COO what the mission of the organization is, you will likely get something like this one from Aflac:

To combine aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best insurance value for consumers.

Hmm, how exactly does that become the primary driver for our Intranet?  The answer is that it doesn’t.  Instead, we need to use that as a guiding principle that defines a more detailed approach that is part of how Catapult Systems approached Intranet projects.  We develop a mission statement for the organization that encapsulates the corporate mission but is more defined to the project.  For example:

“The IT department will build a firm foundation for future technical solutions and transform IT into partners with the business in achieving our organizations strategic goals.”

This will be accomplished by:

  1. transforming IT into a service oriented culture
  2. increasing transparency to the business

  3. developing a consolidated application framework

  4. moving users away from legacy systems

  5. leveraging the Cloud

  6. enhancing Security

  7. developing a comprehensive Mobile Strategy

Note that this mission is specific to the IT department of an organization, not the entire organization.  It is mapped to specific value propositions that we discovered through our research into the organization itself and we tailored the mission to not only map to the corporate mission, but to what the Executives wanted from the IT department.  Which will lead us to who the real customers of our Intranet…the departments.  We will talk more about that next week.