European companies that were quick to embrace intranets are reaping the benefits, but the majority of timid UK organisations are being left behind.
The latest pan-European research from Spikes Cavell blows away the image of intranets as an over-hyped technology fashion confined to California, revealing that one-third of Europe's top 500 companies are already using the technology or plan to do so before the end of the year. According to an earlier Romtec-Durlacher report, 63% of large US companies have already committed to intranets.
In the UK there is a small number of early adopters for whom the information sharing and collaborative rewards of intranets are providing competitive advantage over the majority of slow movers.
"It pains me to say it, but it's a vision thing which British companies lack," said Jon Newman, director of research at Spikes Cavell. "They suffer from short-termism and a lack of perception in IT as a driving force."
Those that have already deployed, found that the technology was easier and cheaper to implement than they feared and were seeing a return on their investment within weeks.
London Underground, for example, has eliminated a #500,000 a year printing bill with a #70,000 intranet to disseminate information to drivers and station staff.
Payback has already begun for 75% of the survey's respondents, even before companies begin to count the profits from increased customer satisfaction.
"Once organisations commit to an intranet they find it easy to provide a system which the management love, the users love and suddenly IT managers are heroes," said Newman.
The uptake of intranet technology is uneven across European countries, with Germany and Sweden the most gung-ho with 54% and 48% respectivelyof their top companies committing to intranets. Britain, at 29%, is slightly below the European average of 33%, and the Netherlands is trailing at 18%.
The report urges companies that have yet to commit to intranets to do so quickly, but warns that the time for experimenting is over.
The issue of integrating legacy systems should not hold an organisation back, says the report, recommending that new areas are "intranetted" first.
"Anyone who uses intranets for OLTP will deserve all they get. It's not that robust yet," said Newman.
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