Intranet software was the next big thing for enterprises – but what’s it like to use it now? How does it actually work?
Past intranet examples were confined to specific physical space, based on where the server was located. They had to - literally - be plugged into the system. Now, intranets have evolved into cloud-based solutions. This means users can go to a website and login to their intranet account from any device, any time, any place.
While most intranets have progressed into this new digital age, intranet solutions can be used in different ways. The varying features and functions of intranet software will make each intranet platform look different for users. To understand what it looks like in action, you need to compare solutions based on their capabilities.
Here are some intranet use cases that explore a variety of intranet examples, each highlighting a different feature that gives insight into what an intranet solution will look like and how it helps your enterprise.
Intranet use case #1: an integrated Content Management System
A CMS platform focuses on creating and managing digital content for your business. It also manages the content of your website. While CMS systems have been around since the nineties, they have since evolved into a flexible, user-friendly web-based system that can integrate with your intranet solution. An intranet meant as a CMS will provide you with the following benefits:
Document management and data storage – centralize information for employees
Information publishing across the enterprise
Customizable sitemap and navigation with customizable modules
Integration with third-party tools
Collaborative work space for employees including virtual meeting space
Increased search and navigation tools for information
Format management features to ensure publishing consistency
Where company information was once scattered, a CMS intranet will provide a distinct intranet platform that is easy to use and navigate for your team. With all of the information and content stored in one central area, CMS intranets allow for data to be quickly accessible to any and all intranet users. Employees can create and contribute content easily, which opens up the doors of communication within your workplace. With a CMS intranet use, your enterprise will see a decline in printing and paper costs, an increase in time efficiency and employee productivity, and an increase in controlled information sharing on a company-wide level. CMS intranets allow for collaboration, cooperation, content storage and content access all in one platform.
Intranet use case #2: a social collaboration platform
Social media permeates the modern-day culture, and intranets are no exception. To boost efficiency in your workplace and enhance employee collaboration, intranets can be used as a social platform for your staff. An example of what a social intranet will do is integrate communication tools with personal profiles, a powerful search engine and sharing and reaction features. All of this in one digital space, providing a holistic social and collaborative experience for your staff. You will see specific features in an example of a social intranet such as:
A social portal homepage that provides a search of employee profiles and displays social media information
Modern social features such as @mentions, comments, liking, etc.
Integration with other social media tools already in use
Easy to create and share multimedia content
Mobile app inclusion and capability for continued connection
Imagine taking the features from popular, relevant social media apps and putting them into the context of a workplace. Commenting, posting, and sharing information instantaneously keeps your employees up-to-date, while also utilizing features they are comfortable with. This will boost your employee engagement and help overall morale by giving people a space for their voice.
Regarding intranet trends and norms, Nielsen Norman Group’s findings on social tool integration state that there was little training required, that communities normally “police themselves” so topics stay on track through the use of ‘community managers’, and that “even a few active contributors can add substantial value to the entire organization.” They saw the value in utilizing social media tools to engage employees, and they stated that there is “no doubt that social features are even more useful inside the enterprise for the support of employee collaboration and knowledge management.”
Collaboration and social intranet tools are especially useful for global enterprises that are looking to connect intranet users from all around the globe. A virtual, social space will open communication between employees who may be in search of someone with a specific skill set, and connecting them will increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
The idea behind a socially collaborative platform is to start a conversation within your enterprise and move away from the one-sided, top-down communication of the past.
Intranet use case #3: the on-the-go office
Allowing employees to use their own devices in the workplace is growing rapidly to where it is now basically the norm, and we are only continuing to trend in that direction. With that cultural shift comes the expectation of having access to what you need to get your job done from any of your devices – including your mobile phone. Intranets can now provide mobile apps that allow your employees to check in and weigh in on company matters from wherever they are. The improved, faster intranet connection capabilities make logging in and working from anywhere easy. For example, an intranet mobile app will provide:
Full access to the intranet system from your employee’s mobile device
User-friendly, responsive web interface and app
Interactive directory and full social features
Notifications that are sent to mobile devices from management to update employees 24/7
Higher involvement of intranet usage and engagement from employees due to increased accessibility
Integration with other mobile apps and software
Keeping your employees connected at all times is what intranet 2.0 is all about, and the mobile app feature continues to propel that movement forward. Employees who are constantly on-the-go, traveling, or otherwise away from their desk can stay connected to the larger enterprise activities through their phone. This creates a better, more consistent flow of communication throughout the organization and increases time efficiency. Many examples of intranet mobile apps will also allow for integration with other apps on your phone (Google Calendar, Docs, Email), so the intranet portal remains the one-stop-shop for everything your employees will need to get done or be updated on.
Intranet use case #4: create culture and reinforce values through a centralized system
You work hard to create an identifiable brand, but without reinforcement that brand can be lost internally. Intranet solutions create a space to positively reinforce company-wide culture through specific and pointed information and interactions shared. Not only does this help cultivate your brand, but it helps your employees to feel included and that they belong to a bigger picture and goal. Some example features of intranet software that will boost culture are:
Ability to post content that shows employees what your company values are
Allows for new employees to see how the company functions and how employees interact
Breaks down silos and division that can be created by using isolated SaaS collaboration tools
Reinforcing a culture of the importance of communication through social media tools and dynamic, two-way communication methods
While an intranet solution itself will not create culture within your workplace, if you use it wisely, you can establish a hub to reinforce cultural values of your enterprise. Basically, your intranet solution is your culture conduit. When positivity throughout the intranet is maintained, employees will follow suit and continue the trend set by the intranet culture. The user-generated intranet content will reflect the general attitude of the workplace, and if the intranet is used to appreciate and value employees, then that is what will continue to be pushed throughout the company.
Intranet use case #5: an approachable and user-friendly workplace
Having a dynamic business means having staff that ranges in skill set and expertise. Intranets are the perfect example of a solution that reaches across your entire workforce so any employee from any department can use the intranet software with ease. Formatting tools and templates allow for consistent work and content from every employee, and also cuts down on the time that it takes to build and format documents from scratch.
With everything in one centralized location, accessing information is streamlined and simplified. Intranet software can also be customized based on specific needs of your employee demographic, meaning you can cater to your employees’ distinct skills when implementing an intranet. Accessibility-feature examples in an intranet software include:
Branding options to keep your name out there consistently and professionally
Ability to create, format, and share content without using coding or HTML
More accurate search engines
Access to all types of employee forms such as PTO, expense reports, insurance forms, etc.
The user-centric capability of an intranet solution can be a huge benefit to your enterprise. Creating, designing, or choosing a software that is tailor-made for your employees will not only drive the adoption process, but it will also make all daily tasks easier for your workforce.
Intranet use case #6: third-party platform advantage
Building an intranet system from scratch can be a viable option for many enterprises. It allows you to customize your system completely, and it gives you total control over what you create from start to finish. It also means that your enterprise needs to have the capacity to build that system, including staff, space, time, systems, and knowledge for that procedure. While building your own intranet solution does have its benefits, there are also advantages to working with a third-party cloud service provider. Here are some examples of what an intranet solution provider can offer your enterprise:
Working with a team of experts in building intranet solutions for a variety of businesses
Templates that are easy to use and customizable to meet your needs
Quick implementation and deployment
Customer service and support for troubleshooting, aiding employees independently, and fixing issues
Minimal internal IT involvement
Built-in upgrades and development from the vendor
Collaboration with the solution provider to offer input and feedback
Built-in, tested, and approved integration with SaaS software
There are now almost 100 different cloud-based solutions that are available for enterprises to compare and purchase software from, and each of these solutions can be completely customizable to fit your needs, which leaves you with a lot of options. Even if you are already utilizing specific SaaS software tools, you are very likely to find a provider who will integrate those into your intranet solution. For example, Happeo's intranet solution specializes in integration with G Suite for all of your events, calendars, documents, and more. They also partner with Slack for a communication tool.
Modern-day intranet systems are essentially all-inclusive, and your enterprise is almost guaranteed to find something already created that will check all of your business-need boxes. While you will need to do your own budget comparison, buying an intranet solution is usually the more economical solution when you consider all of the time and resources it will take to build your own.
Intranet use case #7: a completely integrated solution
If your enterprise is currently using individual SaaS softwares for collaboration tools, you may be running into the issue of silos within the workplace. Instead of keeping all of your communication software working in vacuums, creating fragmentation and disorder in the workplace, an intranet solution will integrate and combine all of these applications into one space.
Many intranet softwares incorporate the tools your enterprise is already using . This helps drive and simplify the adoption process, while also bringing all operation tools under one roof. Intranets can become a hub for your employees to connect them to any application they may need, including integrated applications hosted by a different company. Here are examples of what an integrated intranet solution can do for your business:
Break down the silos created by multiple platforms
Increase productivity by housing all work tools in the same space
Keep the tools your employees are already used to working with
Improve connectivity within your organization
Avoid expenses that can pile up from multiple software subscriptions
While SaaS tools can most likely cover the bases of your enterprise’s collaboration needs, if you are not integrating them into an intranet system, you are missing out on their full potential. You can streamline your communication, data storage, and content by housing them in one central hub that will connect your workforce instead of divide them.
Placing all of these tools in one centralized location will also increase employee productivity and efficiency. It cuts down the time it takes for employees to switch between platforms to search for the task or information they need. If you want your workplace to be cohesive and collaborative, then investing in a fully integrated intranet solution is your answer.
Determining when an intranet is a good fit for you
After reading through these intranet use cases, think about the most relevant and relatable scenario for your business. Is your enterprise struggling in one of these areas? Could you see an intranet solution as a possible fix to the problem? Figuring out what you need to use your intranet solution for will help in the researching and purchasing process. Ask vendors questions specifically catered to the intranet features that your enterprise is going to need, and make sure that solution can meet them. Modern-day intranet software is expansive and all-inclusive, so whatever your needs are, there is an intranet use feature that will be able to help solve it.