Intranet technology has come quite a long way. From static content repositories and a poster wall for company news, intranets are now at a juncture of their next evolution, with modern features, sleek, branded designs, andintelligent AI capabilities. It’s an exciting time as businesses have the opportunity to create dynamic cultures and an internal space to learn and grow as one organization.
But before all the fancy features, the AI, and the branded templates, there is one important consideration that comes first–the purpose of an intranet. This purpose has shifted over time. Intranets in their early stages (what we call Intranet 1.0) really sought to store content in a central place. From there, the next generation of intranets (Intranet 2.0) aimed to provide a place for colleagues and teams to connect, a digital water cooler. Both of these intranet evolutions also have one aspect in common–they take excessive time and resources to build and deliver, and have historically low adoption.
Today’s workforce–post-pandemic and leaning heavily into remote work–has different needs, and it’s vital to define what an “intranet” can be and should be for the modern user. But instead of simply bolting onto the 1.0 or 2.0 definitions with new features and calling it Intranet 3.0, it’s time to redefine and transform the purpose of an intranet, in addition to its features and its implementation time. It’s time to shift our mindset.
Information Access vs. Knowledge Journey
Intranets are a place to store and organize information in an effort to reduce siloed content creation and provide employees with the files and information they need to complete their work more efficiently. Having a central source of truth in this way reduces searching for necessary information and helps teams collaborate more easily, as well as distribute company news and announcements.
However, this methodology still has its shortcomings. Many organizations with intranets still struggle with users being unsure of where to find specific information and organization-wide comms functioning in an ad hoc manner. Rather than viewing an intranet as a cure-all for sourcing information, we can look at our intranet as a channel to leverage on an organization-wide knowledge journey.
It’s time to shift our mindset from an intranet being merely a place to find information to a place to share it, as well. Your organization is full of experts who have important thoughts and information to share across teams. When users can quickly and easily search for and locate what they need, it provides them with more time to dive deeper into their role’s competencies and share their own knowledge with the organization, creating shared value.
Intranet vs. Digital Home
Another perspective to adjust as we move into the world of Intranet 3.0 is to pull away from the idea of intranets being a content repository or internal connection space alone. Instead, focus on your intranet as your organization’s digital home base. Your intranet can go from the place employees randomly visit to find something specific and transform it into the place they instinctively go daily in order to catch-up on what’s happening across the organization and share their own thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and expertise with colleagues. When iron sharpens iron, the entire organization becomes stronger, more informed, and better-prepared to move the business forward together.
Useful Features vs. Intelligent Tools
In order for an Intranet 2.0 to mature beyond its current state, it’s important to view features in a more progressive way. Features of an intranet should help users accomplish tasks, keep organized, and stay connected, but features can do more than that. Intelligent features that are enhanced with AI capabilities have the power to curate each user experience to reduce information overload and focus only on the tasks relevant to that person. This takes useful features and amplifies their value, removing superfluous content and creating a more targeted approach that can look different for each intranet user.
Business-Focused vs. User-Focused
When intranets as we know them today were rolled out, they were a very specific solution to a very specific end. Intranets were meant to provide the business at-large with a way to control content and information in order to overcome accessibility hurdles and create more person-by-person productivity. However, because of this focus on employee access, intranets have been missing some key opportunities. Having access to information doesn’t equate to optimizing the experience so that users can create value for themselves and the business. An intranet that has a majority focus on the user experience with a lesser (but still important) business solution focus will prevail, because buy-in at the user level brings organizational alignment and a win for each user, but the company as a whole.
Drain on Resources vs. Fountain of Opportunity
While modern intranets that focus on the user experience will prevail, there are still business decisions to make. An intranet should be able to provide a return on the investment. Historically, intranets have a reputation for requiring dedicated teams months or even years of work to deploy, accumulating project costs and draining resources for in-house help only to deliver poor adoption rates. Rather than seeing your intranet as “something every company needs to do”, we should be approaching an intranet launch with the understanding that it should be a fountain of opportunity, able to be rolled out quickly, provide a return quickly, and have added value over time. With no-code, low-code technology and AI applications, intranets should be able to provide the best of both worlds–and amazing digital home that builds in value over time without the hefty bill or lengthy timeline.
Connected Teams vs. One Team
This one is tricky. Is it important that an intranet connects teams, helping them collaborate and break down silos? Absolutely. But a modern Intranet 3.0 goes beyond that. By evolving on a knowledge journey, organizations have the opportunity to create a cohesive team, all reading from the same book, same page, and all creating synergy not only between teams, but as a whole. When you have various business teams providing the business a service and also sharing knowledge to sharpen their counterpart teams, the strength of the organization grows and the intranet has gone from a way to transfer information from one team to another into a source for value expansion.
How to Get Started
If you’re struggling to find an intranet that is meeting your organization’s needs based on size or industry, and your users are sluggish to adopt the tool, we can help your organization lean into the Intranet 3.0 approach to not only overcome those challenges, but provide scaling value over time.