Intranets are at the threshold of a new age that will see them transform from a medium that displays static content to a foundation for managing businesses' most dynamic transactions, according to International Data Corp. (IDC), a Framingham, Mass.-based marketing research firm specializing in information technology. "User expectations of the intranet have been driven up by the growth of groupware and the expansion of the Internet," said Mike Comiskey, senior analyst, intranet strategies research program. "The early static uses of intranet for corporate bulletins and announcements, competitive information, and press releases will continue to grow, but there will be a movement toward more interactive collaboration such as online communities of interest and expertise centers. Expect intranet portals to play a big role in the evolution of the intranet." According to IDC, 50% of U.S. companies with 500 or more employees use an intranet, and 55% of the companies in this segment that do not currently use an intranet plan to deploy one in 1999. "User sophistication and maturity have reached levels that put to rest some of the initial human barriers to intranet deployment like security concerns and fears of wasted time because of time spent surfing the 'Net," says Comiskey. IDC also believes expanding recognition of the benefits of digital collaboration is fueling substantial investment in intranets and intranet applications.