By Anthony Baratta
Separating your global corporate intranet’s language from the physical location of the employee
In the world of web, culture equals language, plus date and numeric formatting. And one of the many challenges in building a global corporate intranet is even if a set of employees share the same culture they don’t always share the same physical location. For example, the United States employees of Initech can live in Los Angeles, Austin or New York. While they share the same culture (ENG-US) they don’t share the same geographic location, and therefore have different display needs for departments like HR, Finance and IT. HR, Finance, and IT are departments that even though they span physical locations have different information to share with their local users. These geographic demarcation lines can scale between State, County, and even buildings / campuses and while your CMS can display content based on the culture code provided by the browser, it has no way of knowing the physical location of an employee without an assist.
Corporate Intranet Personalization
In order to provide geographic or location dependent content personalization on your corporate intranet, the first step is to analyze your company’s structure and design a location hierarchy that makes sense. A location hierarchy allows content to be tagged at the appropriate geographic level and provide a “roll-up” of content, if needed. E.g. content tagged for Los Angeles (City) can also appear on pages tagged with California (State), and on pages tagged with United States (Country). The reverse could also be setup, where US and California content show when the employee location is identified to be Los Angeles.
Once you have a location category designed, you need to add that to your CMS so that content editors can tag the content appropriately. You will need to make decisions about inheritance (both up and down the location hierarchy). Our experience is that the most flexible option is to not inherit and instead tag for each level explicitly.
Within a corporate intranet, the authentication of the employee has taken place before they visit the website, therefore your CMS knows who is visiting along with the culture code provided by the browser. The next step is to identify if your corporate authentication service contains physical location information about every employee. If so, can you import the location information into your CMS? If not, you’ll need to request that information from the user on their first visit. This information should be saved in their CMS user profile for use in content filtering and data aggregation.
Now that you have geographic information about the employee you can display content specific to their region / location. Besides company news and events, you can provide weather, traffic and other location dependent features. But the real win comes with the ability to serve up very specific content within a page that is targeted for a location. For example, now you can display “local” departmental contacts in a sidebar for each department. Note that the primary content of the page can be global (same for all locations). The same is true for health benefits which usually differ by geographic region within a country.
Even if there is only one culture for your website or corporate Intranet, you can leverage a well-designed location scheme to greatly increase the value and meaningfulness of content for your audience. So now you know – culture is not location.
If you’re considering a Sharepoint Intranet for your organization, or want to improve the effectiveness of your current Sharepoint Intranet installation, feel free to call us at (510) 652-7700 or please complete this form to talk to one of our experts.