11 reasons to invest in a cloud intranet solution
See how an intranet works
Learn how an intranet works with this short video.
10 mins read
Mon, Oct 24, '22
Hybrid and remote working have changed the ways that companies operate. It’s now more important than ever that employees have access to user-friendly digital workplace solutions that allow them to find information, keep up with company news, and collaborate with colleagues — wherever they are.
That’s why more and more companies are opting for cloud-based intranet solutions. According to a Gartner prediction, more than half of enterprise IT spending will shift to the cloud by 2025.
But if you’re still using an on-prem intranet, you may have some concerns about cloud intranets. We’re here to tell you about all of the benefits that these platforms can bring to you and your employees — and how they can help you to build a more positive and productive collaboration environment.
What is a cloud-based intranet?
A cloud-based intranet is an intranet platform that’s hosted on a remote server (the cloud) rather than on an on-premises server. It’s managed and hosted by a third-party intranet provider, and employees can access it through the internet.
This means that they can get onto the company intranet from any device, from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection — making it a popular solution for companies whose employees work remotely.
Cloud vs on-premise intranet solutions
If you’re looking to deploy a new intranet solution, you have two choices: host it yourself on an onsite server, or opt for a cloud-based solution instead.
With an on-premise (or on-prem) intranet, you own the software once you’ve bought it. You’re responsible for hosting it, maintaining the hardware and infrastructure that’s needed to run the intranet, managing updates, and — crucially — ensuring that the solution is secure.
A cloud intranet, on the other hand, is hosted on the cloud, and managed by a third-party provider. That means you won’t need to deal with upgrades, maintenance, or security — it will all be handled for you in exchange for a monthly service fee.
Why are some organizations choosing cloud-based intranet solutions?
Today, more and more companies are opting for cloud-based intranets as a more reliable and cost-effective alternative to traditional on-premise solutions. This allows them to save on upfront investment and maintenance costs and means that even small companies can reap the benefits that a collaborative social intranet can bring to an organization.
Here are 11 compelling benefits of adopting a cloud-based intranet over an on-prem alternative, to help you build your business case and implement the intranet your organization needs:
1. Cloud-based intranets have lower upfront costs
Cost is often one of the biggest factors at play when it comes to investing in a new intranet solution. Since internal communications budgets are often minuscule, you may need to partner with IT and HR just to get anything off the ground. Even then, intranet projects are sometimes shelved for months — years, even — as the upper echelons of the company go back and forth on cost.
The reason? Deploying an intranet can be stupidly, astronomically expensive.
An in-house, on-premise intranet can place a huge burden on internal servers, which means many of them will need upgrading or replacing. Then, there’s the cost of installing, configuring, and testing the software. The cost of maintaining it. And the cost of supporting your employees as they get used to using the new platform. You’ll need to have staff on hand who understand the system, which means delivering training programs — and that costs money too.
And there’s another factor that most companies don’t consider: electricity. Just how much is your intranet infrastructure going to be adding to your monthly bill? How environmentally friendly will that look on your CSR report?
With a cloud-based intranet, costs are simpler. There may be an upfront cost to launch the intranet, but this is nothing like the huge sums you’ll be looking at if you need to set up a whole server infrastructure to run your software. Then, everything else will be handled through a monthly subscription fee — so there’ll be no unexpected costs to deal with.
2. Cloud-based intranets can be quickly deployed
Setting up an on-premise intranet requires a lot of time and preparation. You need to ensure you have the hardware you need and upgrade or replace any elements that aren’t up to the job. Your IT team will then need to spend a lot of time configuring, testing, and deploying the intranet. Depending on the solution you choose, there might be a lot of customization and design to be done before your intranet can be launched.
Cloud intranets, on the other hand, can sometimes be set up in as little as a few weeks, as long as you have a clear idea of your requirements ahead of time. Because the intranet is managed by a third party, you often don’t need to deal with the tech side of things at all, and your intranet launch could be handled by your HR or internal comms team.
3. Cloud intranet infrastructure doesn't lock you in
Because deploying an on-premise intranet requires a huge outlay upfront, this effectively locks you into using the same system for at least the next five years.
Even if your intranet is doing an OK job right now, what is it going to look like after a few years of your IT team patching holes and making ad hoc fixes? And think about it: what is your company leadership going to say if you come to them in just a year or two and say, “that intranet we spent a fortune on isn’t working out — we need a new one?”
With cloud-based intranet software, there’s little to no upfront cost. That means that if the solution you choose doesn’t end up working for your company after a couple of years of growth, it’s no big deal — you can draw a line under it and start fresh.
And here’s the thing: most intranet providers can customize their offerings to each client. That means that if your intranet no longer meets your requirement after a couple of years, you’ll usually be able to work with them to tweak your solution until it does.
Doesn’t that sound better than being stuck with whatever expensive and cumbersome solution someone chose half a decade ago?
4. Cloud-based intranets are automatically updated
All computer systems need regular updates to function at their full capacity. But if you’re relying on a self-hosted, on-premise intranet solution, that’s a big job for your IT team. Updates can also disrupt work if they’re done during the day, and even small mistakes can cause big problems.
With a cloud intranet, on the other hand, updates are handled automatically and can be rolled out with minimum disruption. And because everything will likely be backed up on your intranet provider’s servers, you don’t need to worry about losing information either.
5. Cloud-based intranets don't need dedicated server rooms
Hey, remember all those servers and other hardware you’d need to invest in if you opt for an on-prem intranet? Those all need a place to live. And not just any place: this stuff needs to be kept in a specially-equipped room that’s climate-controlled and constantly monitored — which doesn’t come cheap.
At a time when organizations all over the world are rethinking their office spaces and shedding big chunks of their real estate portfolios, many companies just don’t have the space for this sort of setup. That’s another reason why a cloud-based intranet — which requires nothing more than a laptop and a solid WiFi connection — is increasingly becoming the more logical choice.
6. Cloud-based intranets are easy to scale with your business
As your business grows, your intranet platform will need to adapt and expand too. With a self-hosted intranet, this can be a tricky and time-consuming process. Your IT team might have to add extra equipment or infrastructure, which comes at a cost.
However, most cloud intranet services are inherently flexible, which means it's easy to scale them up (or down) as your business requires. Even if you were only a small company with a handful of employees when you first launched your intranet, an adaptable cloud solution could still be serving your needs when your headcount reaches 500, 1000, or more.
7. Cloud intranets support a digital workplace
Listen: we’re not saying that there’s no situation where an on-prem intranet might be a good solution. For organizations where everyone works in the same place, where security is paramount, and where the CTO needs immediate access to any part of the IT structure, a self-hosted platform that lives on a server in your office building is probably the best idea.
But that’s not the reality for most companies. In today’s world of work, there’s an increased focus on creating digital workplaces that prioritize real-time collaboration, cross-functional working, and breaking down knowledge silos.
An on-premise intranet can act as a barrier to all of that, making it more difficult to access information if you’re not in the office, and getting in the way of proper, effective collaboration. A cloud intranet, on the other hand, is built for that very purpose: transparency, openness, and authentic communications are the building blocks of the best cloud-based intranet platforms.
It all comes down to what the culture of your company looks like — and what you’d like it to look like going forward.
8. Cloud-based intranets improve knowledge-sharing
In most modern companies, it’s vital that everyone has access to the information they need, wherever they are — which is really only possible with a cloud-based intranet solution. Cloud intranets give employees any-time, any-place access to all of the files, documents, and information they need to do their work. This is all organized according to a logical structure and easily searchable through your intranet platform.
This helps to democratize the knowledge-sharing process, prevents departmental silos from forming, and makes better collaboration easier.
9. Cloud intranets can be accessed from anywhere at any time
One side-effect of the past few years is that more and more companies are now allowing their employees to work from wherever they prefer. That could be the office, but it could also be from home, from a public coworking space, or even from the beach (which we don’t recommend unless you like cleaning sand out of keyboards).
The point is, these employees need access to the same files, documents, and information as they did when they were all working from the company HQ. And they need to be able to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues just as easily too.
Working from a cloud-based intranet — especially one that comes with a user-friendly mobile app — allows employees to:
- Communicate in real time from anywhere
- Read, share, and post updates on the go
- Work productively and effectively wherever they work best
By comparison, to access a traditional on-premise intranet from home, you’d need to use a complex VPN token or set up patchy remote access — if it’s even possible at all.
10. Cloud intranets provide improved security
If you’re seeing resistance to your cloud intranet project from your tech team, it may be because they have concerns about security. And these are reasonable concerns to have: your intranet contains a ton of confidential data about your company, your employees, and your customers, so you need to know it will be safe.
We totally understand why you’d think that a piece of software that resides in a secure server room inside your building would automatically be more secure than something floating around in the cloud. But this is actually a bit of a misconception.
Here’s the thing: almost all cloud intranet providers use the highest security standards to store and process their customers’ information. Happeo, for example, stores all user data in Google Cloud, which means that users benefit from Google’s market-leading security standards — and it doesn’t get much better than that.
11. Cloud-based intranet solutions can integrate seamlessly with existing workflows
Your employees probably use a bunch of different tools and platforms to do their work each day. And if you choose the right cloud intranet, one of the biggest advantages is that it’s easy to integrate many of these tools seamlessly into the platform.
This means that employees will be able to access everything they need from one place, whether that’s collaboration suites, project management tools, sales platforms, or something else. This ability to access everything in one location isn’t just a bonus convenience — it can also result in increased productivity, and create a more streamlined and positive employee experience.
The digital workplace – and cloud-based intranet solutions – drive the modern company
In our recent report on the Rise of the Google intranet, we asked a few companies for their thoughts on cloud-based ways of working. And as it turns out, cloud-based solutions are extremely important for mobile businesses.
Their people report they need the flexibility to work from different places and even shared computers, sometimes switching mid-session. That means that everything being stored online, easily shareable, and accessible from everywhere is vital to their success.
As your workforce demands more flexibility and control over their own ways of working, you can no longer force an office-based culture — and why would you want to?
With the right cloud intranet solution, you can create a positive, collaborative culture, drive employee engagement, and give your team the tools they need to be productive, wherever they are. All of that comes at a lower cost, requires less active management, and could be set up in just a few weeks.
Sounds like a no-brainer to us.