Future of intranets: 8 intranet trends to watch out for in 2023
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10 mins read
Fri, Mar 19, '21
Employee intranet software provides features that our modern-day society demands. They offer real-time collaboration and Internal Communication from any device, all within the secure confines of your own enterprise.
These benefits have become necessary on a wide scale, causing employee intranets to evolve to enterprise-level. If your company is operating outside some sort of corporate intranet, you are missing out. If you are already enjoying the benefits of an intranet, don't be happy with the status-quo. It’s important to know what communication and global intranet trends in the workplace you need to keep an eye on.
Are intranets still relevant?
The traditional company intranet might seem like a relic of the past, but the modern intranet is still very relevant. Companies used intranets like Sharepoint for information sharing and content management, but after all, modern intranets offer much more to employees. With advancements in technology and changes in society and the workplace, intranets are now more relevant than ever before to the modern workplace. Intranets are important to:
- Promote company culture and socializing
- Boost collaboration and productivity
- Promote better employee experience
- Provide a safe and secure environment
8 intranet trends to watch out for
- Employee experience and user-first design
Employee engagement has a direct impact on employee satisfaction and productivity. Whether or not an employee is engaged, depends on the employee himself, but organizations have a big influence on the engagement of employees - by for example creating a good employee intranet experience. Research by Gartner shows that at least 40% of intranets fail to deliver a return on investment due to inadequate adoption. The problem that many corporate intranets face is a bad user experience, poor design, and difficult usage.
User-first design is one of the biggest factors in the success of your employee intranet and one of the most important global intranet trends for the future. The only way to make your employee intranet successful and relevant is to create a good experience that will engage your employees - every day. Without employee usage, your system becomes irrelevant in the workplace, therefore useless.
The good news is that the key to corporate intranet success is in your hands: Focusing on design and visuals is the name of the game. An engaging, streamlined, and well-designed User Interface (UI) will boost intranet adoption rates and increase employee engagement. You could host perfect content and offer state-of-the-art socialization technology, but if your UI is confusing, none of it will matter. Users will be confused and frustrated, leaving your employee intranet an empty wasteland.
We are seeing employee intranet software UI’s break away from cookie-cutter design. Instead, current intranet design trends boast customized, individualistic approaches. These new designs will be built with the user in mind and will include new, exciting features that engage employees.
Along these same lines, we will start seeing intranets trend toward visuals and diagrams over text and lists. We’ve already seen this happen with social media, just look at the rise of Instagram. The days of forcing employees to sift and scroll through endless text are over. With user-centric intranets becoming the norm, leadership teams are expected to deliver information and create content that will engage employees. Easy-to-understand messages are key. User-first design will drive the intranet adoption process and keep employees coming back to your corporate intranet, whether it’s to find answers to burning questions, or help to complete tasks.
- Measuring intranet success with intranet analytics
To measure the success of an intranet and a company’s internal communication strategy, analytical features will be an important asset of future employee intranets.
Take your workplace culture to the next level by figuring out how your employees interact with the content and UI. Experiment with captivating designs that will draw users in and create content that is relevant to employees by focusing on their interests and skills. Besides that, analytics will enable you to identify knowledge gaps of your teams. Take the time to closely observe your employees. The key to this is knowing your staff and what will be relevant to them. The return is measurable in employee satisfaction and engagement. Both are key to intranet success.
- SaaS intranet vs Build your own intranet
Building your own employee intranet can be a huge time-and-money sinkhole for your business. It takes a skilled team a long time to design, build, install, and then manage a custom-built business intranet.
Now, we are seeing a rise in companies hosting and providing employee intranets to sell to enterprises in need of a new tool. There are now close to a 100 different cloud-based intranets that are available. All of them can be compared, customized and tested by your company to see what a successful employee intranets for your working environment would be. Most intranet vendors specialize in specific features, like employee directories or social features – you can pick your intranet with your preferred product features.
Purchasing software versus building it can drastically cut down the intranet adoption and implementation time. The core product has already been built, tested, and perfected by the supplier. Take time to research and test your employee intranet before purchasing it – after that process you are virtually ready to go. They will also provide you with customization and they will take care of updating the software, so all you’ll need to worry about is your own Internal Communication strategy.
- Intranet integration features
While having an employee intranet solves a host of problems, there are many other external collaboration tools needed to get the job done. Many digital workplaces already rely heavily on external tools. So, instead of trying to improve on tools that are already functioning well, a successful employee intranet integrates them.
Integration allows digital workplaces to streamline information and put all pieces of the digital workplace in one place. For example, Happeo’s integration with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) allows all of your company’s documents, calendars, and groups directory to be seamlessly integrated into your new employee intranet. Happeo also integrates with Slack, which is the leading messaging Software as a Service (SaaS) business today.
Integration doesn’t take a big overhaul or move of data from one system to another. Integrated systems and the use of API’s help smooth the intranet adoption process by connecting the apps your organization already uses. Mass-integration and SSO eliminates constant switching between different software and login. It houses all the apps that employees need in one digital space. Your employee intranet shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for these collaborative tools, but instead a hub that supports and integrates them into the connected workplace.
- Intranet content relevancy
The old ways of intranet with top-down communication to the masses is gone. Instead we are shifting to targeted content. Employees expect personalized and relevant content that will directly relate to their tasks at hand. We are going to see a rise in storytelling narrative throughout the workplace, especially from leadership teams, to create content that employees find engaging and meaningful.
If you are specifically looking to step up your game when it comes to intranet content, consider investing in training your staff on Storytelling in the workplace. This will help create consistent, relevant, relatable content that will uniform across the company. It will set the tone for your intranet’s voice, and it will help drive the intranet adoption process by giving your employee’s context to their role within the larger system.
To keep content relevant, you need to provide apps that are user-friendly and easily managed. With a push for content, you want to make sure that your system is prepared to host that information, and you will want to have someone in charge of maintaining it.
Digital workplaces, especially social intranets, are all about user-generated content and an organizational culture where everyone has a voice and a say. There is a strong digital workplace trend for employee empowerment by encouraging them to openly communicate and engage with colleagues.
- Mobile intranet and intranet apps
What we are currently seeing is already an established employee intranet attempting to create an adaptively designed mobile intranet app. With more and more employees working from mobile devices, the mobile version of your employee intranet needs to meet that demand. In fact, research from iPass shows:
- 94% of mobile workers have a smartphone
- 41% of mobile workers have a tablet
- 34% intend to purchase a tablet in the next six months
- 94% of mobile workers have a smartphone
Another study by FierceMobileIT shows how much employees rely on mobile phones at work:
These days, an employee intranet needs carefully designed and streamlined mobile applications. If you can start off with something that will allow employees to access and create relevant content, get jobs done from a mobile device, integrate other mobile applications and receive important notifications, then your enterprise will be set up for successful intranet adoption.
With remote working on the rise, the “office” becomes less of a physical space and more of a digital and remote one. The mobile features also help connect your workforce any time and any place. It also helps your commuting staff to keep up with the company happenings while on-the-go.
Invest in mobile-friendly interfaces when choosing or designing your employee intranet. Look for touchscreen optimization, smart innovation, and responsive software for mobile devices.
- Social intranet features & personal profiles
We already talked about it: Social intranet software. We’re of course talking about the intranet trend that incorporates user-generated content and social elements popularized by apps like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and more.
While blogs, forums, and chat features allow for more interactivity, they aren’t new for employee intranets. We’re now seeing a trend towards personal profiles of employees in intranets. Think of your external social media profile within the internal network. People take pride in their own personal brand and story; integrating that into your workplace will keep employees engaged and connected and will improve teamwork.
New social features we are looking for are about user-generated content and in-depth employee updates (where they are, what they are working on, sharing their current struggles/successes) and personal-post analytics (think LinkedIn’s popular ‘your post has reached x amount of people’) to get real time insight on employee participation and interaction.
Not only do social features of intranets engage employees, they also streamline collaboration. There is a lot of technology out there specified to improve employee collaboration, but really, investing in your internet's social features boost work collaboration heavily. It keeps employees continually connected to each other, and provides features that allow real-time collaboration across departments, physical space, and time zones.
Another benefit of socializing your tool is an easy, quick intranet adoption process. Integrating features that are familiar and comfortable to your employees will keep them frequenting using the intranet, therefore driving the intranet adoption process. Social features are a good way to keep your employees interacting with the intranet, leading to a successful intranet adoption.
The integration of social features in your intranet gives employees a sense of belonging and a voice within the larger context of the enterprise. It gives them space to connect, communicate, collaborate, and contribute to the everyday functionings of the workspace. Make sure your social features contribute to this notion and help create a meaningfully engaging app for your employees.
- Intranet personalisation
Another big communication trend in the workplace is personalization. With intranets we are seeing that personalized employee feeds become more popular. Personalised intranet experiences will motivate employees to come back and to use the intranet actively. But how do you add more personalised value for an employee? This can be done by showing organizational news specific to a particular department or team or suggesting content based on an employee’s interests and skills.
Like this personalization allows for users to see the updates that are most important to them right when they open the intranet, and constant updates keep them engaged. Besides that, adding your own brand to your intranet software with full branding features increases alignment and intranet adoption.
Most important intranet trend? Focus on your employees.
Looking through the list of global intranet trends may be intimidating when considering your own employee intranet, but it’s important to picture everything in the context of what works for your enterprise. Look at this list through the lens of your workforce and how you operate. If you have socialization functions within your corporate intranet that your employees like, don’t worry about trying to improve them just yet. Instead, analyze the features that you think may soon become outdated and work toward improving them.