Company: ActiveIntranetCustomer: Cambridge UniversitySubmitted by: ActiveIntranet
Cambridge University is one of the world’s most respected academic institutions and its ‘Programme for Industry’ draws together the best brains, ideas and influencers in business and academia to promote mutually beneficial collaboration. The Prince of Wales Business & the Environment Programme (BEP) is an important element within the programme, exploring the impact business leaders can make in improving and protecting the natural resources vital to the balance of the world’s environment.The Challenge”Our existing alumni network was built around the traditional dissemination of printed materials, face to face reunions, annual lectures and site visits,” comments Jake Reynolds, Knowledge Strategist for the BEP. “A huge opportunity existed to enrich this network of senior executives and busy academics with online collaboration facilities and a centralised forum for interaction and knowledge sharing.
“The BEP polled existing alumni and asked them which online features would be most useful to them. It emerged that a list of members, a directory of relevant literature, a regularly updated news space and discussion areas devoted to relevant issues were the features that most excited them. As well as tackling these basic requirements, the site also needed to take into account the differing levels of computer literacy amongst alumni members.The site had to be equally accessible to everyone, from the experienced surfer to the internet novice. It also needed to be easy to maintain and able to integrate with the common software applications with which most users would be familiar.
With one eye on the future, the University also considered flexibility to be critical. The ability to add more interactive elements, integrate new technology and expand the capacity of existing features was of vital importance to the long-term success of the project.The SolutionActive Intranet™ was recommended by the BEP’s website partner Magnitude, whose web design and project management skills perfectly complemented ActiveIntranet’s technical and training abilities. A flexible solution was formulated by the three parties that responded to the demands of the alumni network poll and provided the foundations for a whole range of exciting new possibilities. By integrating an effective intranet with a secure extranet, the BEP Online Alumni Network provides users with a member directory, library facility, notice-board, links page and discussion forum.
Members’ personal directory pages are simple to amend and their personal interest profiles are also easy to update. Such profiles allow users to filter e-mail updates so they only receive news and information pertinent to their individual needs. The site is easy to navigate, fully searchable, straight forward to maintain and flexible.And that’s just the beginning. Active Intranet’s powerful software and effective system of service and support give it almost limitless potential. A number of advanced features are already in development and the scope for expanding the site’s capabilities is enormous.
Improved CollaborationActive Intranet™ allows members of the BEP alumni network to share news, views, problems and solutions in a structured, centralised, easily accessible environment. It provides the platform upon which academics, senior executives and members of the BEP team can dip into discussions, respond on the move and request information at the touch of a button.The Online Alumni Network opens up a new era of effective communication. “Now an alumni member working in Amsterdam can respond to a question from Abu Dhabi!” says Jake Reynolds. “Equally, an industry think tank in Cambridge can benefit from the specialist input of a North American business leader.
“Added ValueActive Intranet™ makes it simple for business leaders and academics to work with each other. Ease of access can draw experts into the network who, due to their location, industry commitments or hectic diaries, would be unable to contribute otherwise. This adds value to the University’s product offering, providing lecturers and students with improved facilities and a global knowledge base. It also positions Cambridge University at the forefront of academic-industry co-operation.What’s more, by giving alumni improved access to ongoing issues, the University is able to sustain its involvement with students and offer them an invaluable resource to further their studies.New HorizonsThe Online Alumni Network has the potential to revolutionise communications within the Prince of Wales Business ; the Environment Programme, but in truth it represents just a first step in the journey towards complete online collaboration.
Advanced features already in development include private group discussion areas, real-time discussion forums and tighter integration with e-mail to facilitate easy access to ongoing discussions.In the long-term, the University hopes to include video footage of senior executives’ seminars and a platform for distributing case studies and briefings generated by the programme. With internet technology advancing so quickly, the site’s ability to integrate new features will also be a major advantage. The Online Alumni Network is well positioned to take advantage of video conferencing and interactive learning features as they develop in the not-so-distant future.
Active Intranet™ makes collaboration between the University, industry and the BEP easier than ever before. Straight forward to maintain and easy to operate, it dramatically improves access to information and collaboration potential.
By helping busy academics and business leaders get involved, the site adds value to the department’s educational offering and lays the foundation for a whole new world of interactive learning.
The Benefits to Cambridge University:
· Improved learning and problem solving through shared ideas· Better access to information· Improved interaction between business and academia· A better service to BEP participants· Potential for future expansion· Positioning of Cambridge University at the forefront of its field