Usability, content, search and analytics on the corporate intranet

Squiz is the shizz

12 October, 2010 – Luke Oatham

Squiz provide and support the MySource Matrix content management system.

The nice men from Squiz came to visit us today and I have to admit to being excited before the demo of their product suite. I checked out their website a few weeks ago and was very impressed.

I don’t know why I haven’t bumped into them before now; they’ve been going for over 10 years. Probably because the product is Open Source and I haven’t held out any hope of ever being allowed to use it.

The Open Source suite offers:

  • Enterprise CMS
  • Search (Funnelback)
  • Analytics (based on Google Analytics)
  • Integrated social media/networking

The Australian Federal Government already uses the system, as do a handful of UK agencies. The software is obviously free. And Squiz offer a support service including secure hosting.

How could we benefit?

CMS

The system has all the functionality that we would need; simple on-screen editing, user privileges, workflow, scheduled publishing, platform-specific templates (e.g. desktop browser or mobile device), track changes and real-time pages (rather than published HTML). Video support and image catalogue. A customisable frontend means that you can weave search, analytics and social functionality into the site’s pages. Suitable for both intranet and internet.

On the web we would be able to build an engaging site with a rich user experience. On the intranet we would be able to deliver targeted content to specific business areas using one central system. With the ability to deliver mobile content we would have the chance to reach out to front-line staff.

Search

Funnelback search is sexy. Type-ahead functionality. Live results based on user activity and trending. Faceted results. User feedback. Clever. Certainly worth considering defecting from Google. Up to the minute upgrades, instead of having to jump through sulphurous hoops of red tape and third-party suppliers. Somebody pinch me. How much money could we save by cutting out inflated IT procurement and service contracts?

Analytics

Based on the equally shizzling Google Analytics we would own our own data that we could feed back into the sites, improving search results, popular page and related information lists. And being able to provide up to the minute analysis is a bonus. The module also includes A/B and multivariate testing and reporting.

Social

Integrated into the suite is a social module which allows people to use the intranet/website like we do out here on the web. Rating articles, commenting on posts, “liking” pages, sharing stuff. Polls and surveys. Plus RSS feeds and email alerts giving people the power to catch up on their preferred content. And of course there’s blogging and microblogging.

I hypothesise that the success of implementing any such system will hinge on the…

Staff directory

The backbone and starting point of a new platform and way of working is the staff directory. Focusing on the individual, who is responsible for keeping their profile up to date. Social functionality starts from the user profile where an enterprise version of a “social graph” begins to build. Over time we will be able to see which pages people like, which content generates buzz. Staff can connect and interact with each other no matter how far apart geographically.

Which rather brings me back to a post that I wrote back in March:

Whether, in these austere times, we’d be able to afford such a system, I don’t know. But maybe by cutting out our existing CMS system, our existing Google Search Appliance, our hosting and servers, our IT support and service overheads – we would actually save money.

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