Extranets – how it all began
//SEIBERT/MEDIA has been working on intranets since almost the very beginning of the company in 1996. One of our first intranets was also an extranet. The system “PreSys” for the Berufsgenossenschaftlicher Arbeitsmedizinischer Dienst BAD GmbH in Bonn was established for about 2,000 employees and approximately 250,000 employees in over 3,500 related companies. At the time, it was mainly a highly structured and rights-based document filing system. It was impressive that the company, with a dedicated team from Karlsruhe, already succeeded in motivating and inspiring both its own employees and customers for its system. That is how we gained our first experiences with extranets.
Today, we are quite successful in marketing our intranet solution Linchpin. I am proud of the fact that huge corporations with thousands of employees in dozens of different countries are using our solution and technology in order to collaborate better.
We are now preparing to market a standardized solution for extranets. It does not even have a name yet. We used to have a nice name and a cool logo for everything. And a website. And a sales concept. Today we have a price and an offer and are looking for a few customers.
Become one of our first extranet customers
This is exactly what this blog entry is about: Become one of our first extranet customers now. All without glamor and shine. But with a pretty cool product, the dedication and full attention of our entire company. I can’t say if it would be better to wait until a solution has such a status like Linchpin as intranet has. We have already implemented a three-digit number of projects with some of the largest companies. There are already some standardizations and optimizations incorporated in this project. We have eradicated the mistakes that we made at the beginning, and today we can really speak of an “out-of-the-box intranet” for corporations and also for smaller companies.
There are some advantages for companies that start a project with us in the early stages. We aren’t talking about BAD any more, who decided to move towards SAP. Rather, we are now referring to B. Braun, one of our pioneering companies. There are still a handful of other companies that have helped and shaped important development steps within the framework of sponsored development partnerships, helping us develop and improve our technology. Such companies take on the higher risk due to the high initial development costs. After all, it may happen that our developed product can not be successfully placed on the market and is a failure. At least I know that my company can use this solution that we have developed. That seems to be enough for some other companies to come on board. My colleague Paul wrote an interesting blog post about our approach to product innovation; An important point is dogfooding. There is no way to become familiar with our product with all of its strengths and weaknesses, other than by using it daily.
The biggest advantage for early customers is especially a financial one. We often offer these pioneers our solution licenses free of charge, which significantly balances their investment costs and makes it very attractive in the long run.
And, of course, it is also always an advantage to establish a modern and effective form of communication and collaboration in and between teams. It was only last weekend that I talked with my good business friend, Gerrit Eicker, about the fact that some of his customers are strategically positioning themselves on the “penultimate generation of technology”. They purchase old software, which other companies already have “thrown out as outdated”. And they seem satisfied to walk on abandoned paths. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. It can’t be denied that this approach is “cheap”. And it also seems to be appropriate for companies that do not have much to do with technology, not to focus on the newest technology, but to use it when it is well-established.
Good collaboration as a key to success
However, I still think it is wrong to use outdated and second-rate communication technology. Effective collaboration in teams is now one of the key features of successful companies. This includes respect and trust, but also good software and good technology. Of course, it can still somehow work with paper and phone. But the email and meeting chaos in such companies can never offset the few dollars spent on proper software. For Gerrit’s customers this may be exactly the right thing. As a general strategy, I don’t think so.
And that’s exactly why I’m looking for innovative companies that want to build a really cool extranet. You do not have to be big for that. And it does not have to be an extranet for the entire company, and all customers, and all partners and suppliers. Rather, I believe that our initial projects will be more focused on specific applications and smaller groups.
In our first extranet projects it is exciting to find out the similarities and differences in requirements. With Linchpin, we invested heavily in these first projects and were able to offer customers a rather attractive value for their money. However, if you are interested in such a project, you should also be interested in actively contributing. We just need feedback and voting. If you simply want to “roll out”, maybe wait a bit longer.
What features do our extranets offer?
We are currently working on the first ten projects and already have a pretty good idea of what an extranet should have. I’m going to list some must-haves here:
- Clear separation of spaces (often called project rooms or extranet spaces), so that competitors do not “run into each other” in the system.
- Simple and fast communication of news to partners, customers or suppliers, so they know what we are currently offering and which topics are currently important to us.
- Information is always available in its most recent version in one central place.
- It is also possible to access the information at any time from the road or with a smartphone.
- Editing and adding information (including files, images, videos) is simple and intuitive.
- Notifications are smart, so that collaboration actually happens in the system and emails are ideally just necessary for notification of updates.
- Fewer meetings and calls are necessary since status updates will become available beyond the actual company borders.
- Increased transparency of processes and projects between various companies to decrease throughput time and increase quality with increased coordination. This transparency will help businesses ‘stick to the actual topic’ more than business theater.
- Customized layout for every customer or layout templates. As you wish.
- Complete space templates so that routines that have been established, and that make your collaboration with customers successful, can quickly and easily be implemented in new projects.
- Switch user rights which allow you to view the extranet as customer and test their permissions.
You could say we have been expanded the 180 functions of Atlassian Confluence by adding the necessary extranet requirements.
I am writing this post to give you an early opportunity to get in contact with us. We currently do not have a website or even a proper marketing. This supports intensive and extensive collaboration, and lots of room for you to influence our product development. You can schedule a call or a demonstration session with us quickly and easily. You can find further information on the extranet or use our contact form here.
Please let us know if you are interested. We are looking forward to hearing from you!