Corporate Intranet deployment is set to spark one of the most important technological revolutions of the decade, transforming the IT services industry in the process.
That was the claim made by Ladd Bodem, worldwide director of Dataquest?s IT Service Group at the research firm?s Service Trends conference in San Francisco this week. "The Intranet is one of the few technologies that will really change the industry," he said, highlighting the PC as the only comparable example of a technology that made a similar impact.
But in many respects, he added, the Intranet?s impact will be more dramatic, and in a shorter time frame, because much of the necessary foundation infrastructure is already there. "People had to go out and buy PCs from scratch," he explained. "But most companies have some form of network in place. There is an unbelievable number of tools available for creating and authoring Web pages."
He also noted that there is little or no training required for end users to master the technology. "Most people can learn to use browsers easily," he said. "So it?s pretty easy to roll out a pilot programme."
Intranet development is being driven from different parts of organisations, depending on how conservative or progressive they are. In conservative companies, almost 64 per cent of Intranet work is being initiated from the bottom up, fuelled by end user pressure to adopt the technology. In so-called progressive companies however, Intranet deployment is a senior management initiative in 51 per cent of cases.
But there has been a radical shift in end user intentions when it comes to deciding whether to do their Intranet development internally or via a third party. In 1996, Dataquest found that 61 per cent of its clients claimed they would rely in internal resources, but in less than a year that figure has fallen to less than 30 per cent. This presents outsourcing companies with a major revenue opportunity, according to Bodem.
The rapid expansion of interest in the Intranet has meant that Dataquest has been unable to date to produce a definitive prediction on the adoption rate. Bodem said the research firm expected the Intranet services market to be worth between $22 billion and $36 billion by the turn of the century. The largest share of that revenue - some 42 per cent - will come from the US, with Europe following in second place with 32 per cent.
But there are potential barriers to growth, most notably the inability to put an accurate cost of migration to an Intranet-based infrastructure. "The issue is that we don?t really know what the cost is," explained Bodem. "We can tell what a small pilot would cost, but we can?t tell the market what to expect."
Security is also a major area of concern as is the perceived lack of bandwidth. "Intranets put an enormous load on networks," explained Bodem. "Companies have to plan for increasing their network capacity."
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