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Why an Intranet is a Must-Have Technology

Why an Intranet is a Must-Have Technology

Perttu Ojansuu

4 mins read

Mon, Apr 22, '24  

We need to talk about intranets.  Yes, those sometimes-forgotten corners of the company network, often relegated to housing outdated policy documents and forgotten employee birthday announcements. But here's the truth many leaders may miss: a well-designed intranet isn't a dusty filing cabinet – it's a dynamic command center for your organization.

Intranets are a keystone technology–even today

In today's age of information, companies rely heavily on email and chat for communication, and there's no denying their importance.  However, what happens to the crucial, non-transient information that goes beyond fleeting messages?

In years past, functioning without an intranet led to scenarios in which essential company documents, best practices, and knowledge were scattered across individual Google Drive files creating a tangled mess of siloed information. Employees then had to waste valuable time searching for what they needed, leading to a culture of constantly "asking" for information that should have been readily available.  Worse yet, lost or outdated information breeds confusion and misalignment, hindering productivity and potentially impacting the quality of your work.

Here's the plot twist: AI–the technology so many see as the savior of information overload–is only as good as the data it's fed.  Without a central repository of trusted, up-to-date content – the very function a well-designed intranet provides – AI has no reliable source to draw from. Its effectiveness crumbles. So even today, with capabilities and potential for AI to assist in knowledge management, it can only go so far in solving pain points and delivering value.

The true value of an intranet

An intranet, implemented strategically, goes far beyond mere information storage. It acts as the central nervous system of your organization, connecting various SaaS tools and applications you rely on daily. It dictates how your company operates – the beating heart of internal processes, productivity, and alignment.

Some might dismiss intranets as a "nice to have," even if the platform’s fate is being an afterthought that gathers dust in the digital landscape. But this perception shortchanges the immense value intranets offer.  Intranets, when embraced across the organization, have the power to revolutionize internal communication, knowledge management, and ultimately, unlock significant business value through productivity and organizational alignment.

For what can be considered a small software investment,  an intranet is a powerful, strategic tool to tip the scales in a favorable direction. Even if each user saves 5 minutes per day, an organization is covering the cost of the investment; the rest is direct value and cost savings to your bottom line. And on top of increased productivity, Forbes has found that having an engaged and aligned workforce can lead to up to 4x the revenue. Conversely, the risk organizations run by not investing in an intranet can be devastating ,with an average of $504 billion lost annually due to employee disengagement. 

Only intranets can be intranets

It can be tempting for many organizations to look for alternatives to an intranet. Wikis, external CMS platforms, and microsites are not meant for internal use, and some organizations even attempt just dumping everything in a shared Drive as an intranet replacement. These may seem like easier or cheaper options, but here's the truth: these workarounds simply don't deliver what an intranet can, and they are rarely cheaper in the long run. 

Wikis are a bottom-up solution that may foster a sense of user participation, but they often lack the crucial top-down authority that ensures information accuracy and reliability.  Without a clear hierarchy, vital company knowledge can morph into a collection of unvetted opinions and outdated practices. 

When it comes to Content Management Systems (CMS) and microsites, they excel in the public-facing web experience space, but fall short for internal use as they inherently lack the security features needed to protect sensitive company information. These options also lack the collaborative features that empower employees to share knowledge and work together seamlessly.  An intranet bridges this gap, providing a secure space for internal communication, knowledge management, and fostering a collaborative spirit – all crucial elements for organizational success.

The ideal intranet provides a strong top-down framework, ensuring the information housed there has been vetted and reflects the organization's established goals and objectives. Content should not be collected in an intranet; it should be curated. A well-designed intranet also fosters two-way dialogue, empowering users to share their knowledge, learn from each other, and contribute to a vibrant internal community – all within the context of the organization's broader vision. It fosters a sense of shared purpose and empowers employees to be their best selves, all within a beautiful and engaging digital environment. 

And while an intranet should be functional, it should also be visually appealing and reflect the organization's brand identity.  At the end of every feature-packed software platform is a human, and humans respond to and are engaged by aesthetics. A beautiful, well-designed intranet fosters a sense of pride and belonging. Our intranets should mirror the sleek, intuitive experiences we expect in our everyday lives and meet the digital expectations in a world that increasingly revolves around them.

All this brings a level of organizational alignment with the power to change the direction of an organization and the velocity at which it’s moving. That's the power of a true intranet – something makeshift solutions can simply never replicate.

That leads us to the only logical conclusion…

You need an intranet. An intranet provides exponential value as the necessary backbone of internal collaboration and productivity, and no other platform solution can fill its shoes. You don’t need a digital bulletin board, or a rigid, outdated, boring site. And you certainly don’t need a Google Drive of hoarded files. You need an intranet. And you need one that focuses on fostering a dynamic, knowledge-sharing environment that propels your organization towards achieving its goals. It’s that type of intranet that will become the command center to guide your ship and ensure everyone is informed, aligned, and equipped to navigate ever-changing business waters with clarity and confidence.