Explosive intranet growth forecast

Explosive growth in the use of intranets in New Zealand companies is forecast in a new report.

Explosive growth in the use of intranets in New Zealand companies is forecast in a new report.

Intranet servers will outnumber Internet servers by the turn of the decade, according to an IDC New Zealand survey completed last month.

The study, which surveyed the top 200 companies, found that intranet servers will number more than 20,000 units by the year 2000--a value of $4.2 billion, says researcher Pat Pilcher.

Browser shipments will increase more than fivefold over that period, he says, with Microsoft Explorer expected to catch up, if not pass, Netscape Navigator.

“Although Netscape has a considerable lead in the browser stakes, Microsoft’s strong position in the New Zealand enterprise productivity applications market, coupled with the move by Microsoft to Internet-enable most of its applications, may see the Web-standards issue resolved by the inertia of the installed base,” the report says.

Revenue for intranet-related tools and applications is expected to rise to about $3.4 billion by the turn of the decade.

Two-thirds of the 90-odd firms surveyed were either actively planning intranet/s or already had a pilot site installed.

The low implementation costs, plus platform independence, are major technological drivers for the popularity of Intranets, says the report.

However, development is still in a comparatively immature stage, says Pilcher.

“Groupware is still strong because of the ability of vendors to provide support, as well as security features,” he says.

However, the proprietary nature of such products is seen as a major long-term burden. The report quotes studies in the US that show for every dollar invested in such groupware an additional $5 is spent on consulting, training and technical support in the first year.

However, the one-stop-shop for support is a big plus for many corporates, and most groupware solutions provide a well developed set of administration and management tools and many client server base solution are cross-platform.

“Only groupware communications systems that have control over the soup cans at both ends of the string can consistently manage the exchange of multiple data types and real-time interactivity. This ... is likely to be significant issue for the corporate market.”

However, such groupware products as Lotus Notes are being seen increasingly as complementary to intranets.

The lack of a proven track record is also causing some firms to be cautions about intranets.

“Many ... IT managers have been burnt by promising but unrealised technology advances in the past. Many potential users are tending to adopt a wait and see attitude, or, at best, are implementing intranets on a limited trial basis within their organisation.”

A third inhibitor is likely to be the simplicity of the Web, meaning exchange of data more complex than text and static images is still problematic for some existing systems. However, the development of such tools as real audio, Java and Macromedia Shockwave are already changing that, the report says.

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