Intranet basics: All you need to know about intranets
We are sharing our ultimate insights on how intranets developed over the years, and what role they have now in advancing the communication processes in companies. Keep reading to learn about common challenges for businesses when implementing an intranet, and ways to overcome them. By the end of this article, you'll know how to choose an intranet for your organization. Maybe it’s something your business is missing?
29 min read
Introduction to intranets
Sharing photos, stories, snapshots, blurbs, updates, conversations, announcements—this is now how we communicate with the world. As these forms of communication proliferate the way we interact, what does that mean for the workplace?
It means managers and business leaders need to utilize and include these services to streamline our organizations and create efficiency in the workplace.
It also means that intranet software and the digital workplace solutions are becoming critical to the modern business. It's time to let the black hole implode and give birth to a new kind of intranet.
Keep reading to find out:What is the meaning of an intranet?
Intranet VS Internet
Intranet VS Extranet
Brief history of Intranet: Old VS New
6 essential elements of an intranet
Why you need Intranet 2.0 in your company
What is Intranet 2.0?
Intranet 2.0 advantages
Future trends of a social intranet
Intranet challenges & ideas to overcome them
How to choose an intranet
How to know if you need an intranet: 6 questions to ask
7 tips on choosing your intranet
Implement an intranet in these 5 steps
How to track intranet performance
3 successful intranet use case examples
Intranet user reviews
Basic knowledge about intranets
What is the meaning of an intranet?
An intranet “is a private computer network operating within an organization. Instead of everyone having access, it is private.” At least, that's what it was limited to at the time.
Think of an intranet as a digital workspace, where “you and your colleagues can meet, exchange ideas/documents, and collaborate on projects... With a quality intranet, you can streamline your business processes to a dramatic extent.”
Implementing an intranet brings your organization together in an efficient and organized way, no matter where your workforce is located. Employees can share thoughts across departments, managers and leaders can disperse important information, and all technology utilized by an organization can be found in one place – all within a secure network.
Intranets provide a variety of services within the network. The barebones of an intranet should include email, chat, publishing, e-forms, directories, and charts features.
Intranet vs Internet
What is the difference between Internet Extranet and Intranet?
Ever typed in the three W's to access a webpage? That means you're accessing the Internet, the World Wide Web. It's global and accessible to anyone, while an intranet is an organization's private computer network.
Intranet vs extranet
What's the difference between internet intranet and extranet?
Now, you might be wondering: what is an extranet and where does it come into play here?
An extranet is a private network that allows controlled access to vendors and suppliers, or an authorized set of customers or partners. An extranet is a subset of an intranet. It allows a specific group access to a part of an organization’s intranet network, without granting access to the whole.
Think of your business. While an intranet can provide amazing communication between your or’s employees, the point of a business is to do business with outside companies. If your internal communication is streamlined, digital, and efficient, then adding an extranet is a way to extend that network to your trusted business partners.
It’s like different kinds of parties. An intranet is an exclusive party where only your employees are invited to socialize, and they are allowed access to every part of that party. An extranet is invited to the party as well, but those employees are only allowed to enter certain areas of the party and talk to certain people. This is useful if you work with a lot of vendors, or if your business revolves around reselling products through partners.
Brief history of intranet: Old vs new
The first intranets were implemented around 1994 and provided these basic services in a secure, private area for different companies. Back then intranets were considered as knowledge management systems for only top-down communications, which means that the tool was mainly used by HR or management team to spread internal information among workers, and not for collaboration purposes. Employees, on the other hand, used the intranet to find basic information about the company, documents and newsletters. Besides intranets with paid monthly plans also free open source intranets were introduced.
In 2000s the intranets turned into more comprehensive enterprise portals and social intranet, with added social features and possibility to write blog posts. More than that, employees could already access self service features and a centralized help desk where they could find answers to their questions. Intranets finally turned into content management tools.
A new era for workplace collaboration started in 2010s. The introduction of different integrations with external apps (G Suite, Slack, etc.) enabled organizations to have more complex instruments for Internal Communications via intranets. Social networking has become a part of employees' routine, driving employee engagement and collaboration between departments.
By the start of a new decade of 2020s, intranets have developed both top-down and bottom-up functionality to give employees more freedom in expressing their opinion. Now you can use an intranet to upvote other people's posts, share, comment, like, suggest your own ideas and promote them internally. Now it has it all: it's a social instrument, knowledge hub and a people directory in one.
Almost 25 years after intranets were created, we are seeing a complete overhaul in them. These updated intranets match the modernization of the digital age and utilize the technologies already in place to create the most efficient structure and communication systems for the workplace. As a current employee or business owner, this new intranet adoption should be something you are looking into.
So, now you know how intranets developed over the years. But the question is - what has changed in a way they work, exactly?
Speaking of what equipment organizations need to host an intranet, Beaming notes that "in traditional intranets a web server is used to host the intranet and the machine itself will depend on the content and the amount of users”. This means an external machine is brought in to support this network. Intranets use what is called a Local Area Network (LAN), which is a group of computers and devices that are interconnected through a specific, shared communication system. This can be a particular line or link to a wireless server.
Usually, a LAN is also restricted by a certain geographical area. Think of a school, university, an office and more. What this means is you will need to figure out what kind of a server you will need, how many users your intranet will have and what it will be used for. Then it's a matter of installing and maintaining the server across the physical area in which you work.
Luckily, times have changed. Modern technology has made those servers obsolete. Everything can be done digitally in 'the cloud.'
Cloud-based intranets are still secure. They are also efficient and user-friendly because users can connect with nothing more than an internet-enabled device and log in details.
With pre-existing intranets your organization can purchase an account and then any employee can login – wherever they are – and use the intranet. There is no longer a need for a central, physically connected machine, which makes installation and implementation extremely easy. Now you can cut the cords and sign in anywhere you have a device and internet access.
In a recent press release, the co-founder of Happeo stated:
"Traditional employee intranets are dead, because they host static and often outdated information in isolation, offering no value to the employee."
~ Perttu Ojansuu, Co-Founder and CEO of Happeo
Intranets now includes search engines, user profiles, blogs, mobile apps with notifications, and events planning within their infrastructure. The most successful intranet examples are compatible with already existing applications that provide a needed service, or they create their own version of this service that works within the larger intranet structure.
We are no longer looking at using outdated intranets that are frequently overlooked by employees. Instead we see interactive, social, efficient, and familiar ways of working and sharing ideas to excite the new age of employees.
A successful intranet keeps employees coming back on a daily basis to check up on tasks and stay on top of their jobs. High employee activity allows for a smooth, organization-wide intranet adoption.
6 essential elements of an intranet
What should an intranet include?
Arecent study shows that there are 5 trends in challenges that employees have while working with their intranet. 43% of employees don't share files with colleagues because they struggle to find them on time. Only 30% of employees know how to request information from other teams. 25% of workers know where or how to find their organization's corporate brochure. 29% of workers know how to submit an idea via the intranet and only 50% of employees know how to book a vacation or submit an IT request.
Now, we understand how and why intranets started, and that they have been moving with the trend of technology. So if we want something top of the line, user-friendly, all-encompassing and modern, what does such an intranet entail? Tech Republic presented their findings on the essential intranet features, and a few years later CMS Wire published an updated list of 5 key intranet purposes. Both agree on 6 elements as crucial parts to your intranet adoption. Look for them if you're comparing intranets.
Here are 6 essential features that you need to look for in an intranet:
- Deliver relevant content
An intranet team should monitor their content and put thought into what they are sending out on their intranet. Content should be accurate and relevant so it will inspire response.
- Be a key communication instrument
Implement an intranet that is user-friendly, organized by groups or importance, and allows for a back-and-forth dialogue to drive the adoption process.
- Integrate with existing applications
Adopting an intranet that is compatible with applications which are already used by your organization allows for a fluid transition.
- Enable collaboration and socialization
Implementing social networks to your intranet will cultivate a sense of community, facilitate the intranet adoption process, and bring employees together across a wide spectrum.
- Support the culture
Through intranet use, businesses can reinforce their culture and overall message they want their employees to receive.
- Be interactive
Successful intranets position themselves as a core business instrument for automating key tasks and processes. They will also help simplify and automate internal processes and work practices.
If you are choosing a new intranet then you should also keep in mind future trends. Have a look at our blog post, where we summarised the most important intranet trends to watch out for.
Want to see an intranet in action? Watch this video to see an intranet example with all its features!
Creating a social intranet
Why you need an Intranet 2.0 in your company
The first intranets were complicated, clunky, and not very efficient. They required a separate server, maintenance, constant upkeep, and content was ignored by many. The original goal of implementing an intranet system was to provide a secure network that would increase employee productivity by providing easier access to documents and more effective communication throughout the organization.
This quickly spiraled out of control with a lack of content control or management, leading to what seemed to be death to intranets and their efficiency in the workplace. Intranet adoption was not an important goal, because the system could only do so much. Without successful adoption, intranets had very little performance value in the workplace.
These systems are all old intranet examples, also called “intranet 1.0” – what we have described as the traditional, server-based intranet. Frank Hamm, a consultant for communication and collaboration who supports organizations in their digital transformation, describes intranet 1.0 as “Publication and provision of official information by the organization or organizational units.”
Many businesses are still stuck in this era of intranet 1.0, which lacks relevant content and user-friendly applications for employees.
What is an Intranet 2.0?
Intranet 2.0 is another name for social intranet. The key to a Intranet 2.0 is the involvement of collaboration facilities such as blogs, forums and wikis and the introduction of posting, liking, commenting and tagging - all known by websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
So why is the digital workplace important, and why is it crucial to adopt intranet 2.0?
In their findings on the main intranet trends to look out for, Analytics Insight reports that:
“Organizations are looking at leveraging intranets at the core of their Digital Workspace initiative and are expecting intranets to yield a slew of employee engagement benefits.”
Intranet 2.0 advantages
According to McKinsey, improved communications and collaboration through social technologies, such as intranets, improve employee productivity by 20 to 25%. More than that, usage of social intranet can significantly increase employee engagement and employee experience. Just like that, Google managed to increase employee happiness by 37% as a result of engagement initiatives, including using online tools.
Here are some advantages of using an intranet 2.0:
- Improve internal communication
- Boost productivity
- Allow organizational expansion and globalization
- Connect your organization across locations and time zones
- Help employees find information
- Boost employee recognition and reward
- Provide organizational clarity
- Streamline relevant information
- Reinforce organizational culture
- Reduce emails, meetings, and outdated documents
- Increase employee engagement
- Improved employee experience
- Boost employee satisfaction
An example of intranet excellence combines everything your employees are looking for in communication. It also creates a community in the workplace and brings it to life in a way that is also efficient and productive for your organization.
The future of an employee intranet
Future trends of a social intranet
Michael Grothus hypothesizes that intranets will become so integral to our society, that in the future we will be looking at national intranets in place of the global internet that we are currently using.
In his article on FastCompany about the future of the Internet, he states that the future is:
“A world in which the norm is a series of national intranets; walled gardens with different standards and built on different technologies that governments say provide greater national security. It is a world in which some nations are completely cut off from other nations online–making something as simple as sending an email to a friend in another country impossible unless those two countries have digital access pacts with each other. And it is a world in which granting access to a country’s online users is wielded like an economic–and even geopolitical–weapon.”
In this scenario, intranet implementation will no longer be a choice, but a vital part of everyday life. If this is the direction society is heading, then it is important to learn and adopt intranet systems now so organizations will be on top of their game – if and when this time does come. Luckily, there are people, such as tech influencers, that build a community to drive this development forward even faster.
Trends of successful intranet performance
What trends should you look for to be ahead of the game when adopting an intranet? Which ones of them will continue to be developed for the future?
Certain features boost intranet performance across the board. When you are comparing intranet, be sure to look for these key elements:
- Total access
The most successful intranets use a mobile app to make information access available anytime, anywhere, from any device. This is the way in which most employees are comfortable working, and a well-constructed mobile app will allow for an easier intranet adoption, as well as more productivity, especially when traveling.
- Social engagement for employees
A social engagement portal is what intranet 2.0 is all about. Features such as reviews, comments, likes, shares, etc. give more feedback and allow employees to have a voice within the organization. With more employee engagement, the intranet adoption process will drive itself seamlessly.
- Collaboration across departments
Intranets are continuing to digitize, moving people away from paper, making all projects primarily cloud-based. This allows for easier collaboration.
- An individualized approach
This includes Personal dashboards, user directories having photographs, customizable profiles, personalized news feed and more. Everything to provide personalized experiences.
- Artificial intelligence
AI is the new feature of the technological world, and it is beginning to shape the workplace in a new way. A good intranet will be looking forward to this trend by providing AI systems that will be like personal assistants for employees.
- Application integrations
Many businesses have already implemented applications in order to run their daily operations. Intranets can combine and consolidate these apps into one digital space, which will increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Look to adopt an intranet that is compatible with the apps your business is already using.
- Relevant and innovative UI
Modern design concepts are very important for user adoption and engagement. Look for something user-friendly and relevant for modern-day employees. Don't be afraid to ask your potential vendor how many User Experience Designers they employ.
Intranet challenges and ideas to overcome them
Intranet implementation challenges
Although intranets have been very successful for many organizations, they still come with their challenges. How do you prepare yourself for these challenges, and how do you know what is right for your business?
Challenge 1: Potential security breach
Although intranets limit access, it is important to install a security system due to the sensitive nature of the intranet’s content for your organization. Without this security measure, there could be a breach in security which could put your organization at risk.
Challenge 2: Time commitment and hidden costs
While the actual set-up of an intranet might be fairly simple and cost-effective, after implementing the intranet teams must be assigned tasks to set up and configure the intranet for your organization. This may mean adding staff or reassigning staff. It is also crucial to train staff on how to use the intranet or else its effectiveness will be lost.
This includes initial and ongoing training hours dedicated to the intranet system. In order for the intranet adoption to stick, your organization must put in the time it takes to make that happen. Along with training, specific staff members must be appointed to upkeep and maintain the content, which takes away hours from other projects.
Challenge 3: Abundant Information becoming ineffective
The whole idea of an intranet is to make information accessible to employees no matter their status or department, but this can potentially lead to information overload.
A large quantity of information can become excessive and confusing, which leads to poor communication and collaboration between employees. Also, it will take employees longer to search if information is unorganized. Few things kill productivity as fast as the frustration that comes from not being able to find important information.
Challenge 4: Getting employees on board with intranet adoption
Despite putting in all your effort, there still may be push-back from employees in the adoption of the intranet. First, people are resistant to change, and some employees may just not wish to break their old habits.
Second, if the interface is confusing to employees, they will likely be turned off from adopting it. And finally, if the intranet is not the go-to place for information, or if the information is not relevant or disorganized, employees are likely to ignore it.
How to handle intranet implementation challenges: 7 steps
Here are some steps your organization can take to ensure successful intranet implementation and adoption:
Step 1. Budget realistically: According to socPub's article on planning an intranet project, “more than two-thirds of intranet projects face issues with cost overruns”. Make sure your company budgets for all aspects of implementing an intranet, including initial set-up costs as well as long-term upkeep. Make sure your potential vendor is transparent with its payment model.
Step 2. Get your leaders involved: You've heard of the saying 'Lead by example', right? If the higher-ups are still sending emails instead of using intranet features, it will make intranet adoption that much harder. Get your leaders on board with the adoption process and the rest will follow.
Step 3. Provide ongoing training and promotion of your intranet: Even the most user-friendly intranets can be hard to navigate and understand for some. Before implementing the new intranet, make sure everyone understands the functions and features of it. This can be achieved by providing employee training on how to use the intranet, which will facilitate adoption. You can provide workshops or create a team specifically to offer support to those employees struggling with the change. And you can simultaneously promote the specific features to use on the intranet.
Step 4. Appoint people for content maintenance and support: While it is great to have everyone connected and contributing, that inevitably means there will be an overload of information. A lot of it will be – or become – irrelevant. To prevent this, appoint staff members for intranet content upkeep and management. That way everything stays relevant, fresh, and helpful.
Step 5. Find a way to make it easy for your employees to contribute: It is important to have specific people maintaining the upkeep of the intranet content, but you do not want the responsibility of all of the content to fall on those few people.
Step 6. Make it easy for all employees to contribute content in order to keep the contribution load off of the content managers. This will give everyone a better understanding of the other departments and help employees across the board adopt this new intranet.
Step 7. Create an outlet for employee feedback: Employees are going to have expectations for their intranet, and if their expectations are not matched they will not want to adopt this system. Make sure to ask employees for their perspective before implementing an intranet, and try to match those expectations. Keep feedback available after the implementation as well, that way you can address any future concerns.
Key takeaway: Assess what you need for your company’s communications
These lists are all speculations of the “what-if” scenarios of implementing an intranet system in your workplace.
The reality is, you will never know how this will play out for your specific business until you try it. You can take precautionary measures, but there still could be unforeseen challenges that arise.
The most recommended thing to do is look at these lists through the lens of your business. Sit down with your leadership team and ask yourself these questions before considering intranet implementation:
- What kind of budget do we have for adopting an intranet?
- Is it sufficient for what we want our intranet to accomplish?
- Do we have the necessary human resources to support and sustain this implementation?
- How can we make sure we have a successful adoption process?
- What is our employee demographic? What will they need in an intranet? How will they respond?
How to choose an intranet
Key features and add-ons of a successful intranet
Channels – Different channels allow for employee communication and collaboration.
Here are examples of what Channels offers:
- Post messages, share files, comment and like, tag users, and discuss features.
- Announcements where you can see who has read the post, and give one-click reminders.
- A personalized timeline that displays only relevant news to each individual user.
- File collaboration with editing and sharing features.
Pages – A pages feature combines all the relevant content for users in one space.
Here are examples of what Pages offers:
- Share up-to-date Google Drive files, add your team calendar, and use dynamic widgets.
- Easy editing features that build and maintain your intranet pages without the help of IT.
- Personalized homepage for each employee.
- Content widgets that pull from your social channels and Google Drive files or folders.
- Clear navigation within the page layouts.
Directory/employee profiles – Personalized employee information is key to connecting your staff across the intranet.
Here are example directory features:
- Organizational chart, made using already existing employee data.
- Personal profile with contact data, skills and bio of each employee.
- Search engines based on profile information, so you can find the employees you need to get the job done.
Mobile intranet app
Intranet app – Wherever your employees are, they can stay up-to-date on information and remain engaged with the content at all times.
Here is what a mobile app can do:
- Provide an intuitive interface that users are comfortable and familiar with on their mobile device, facilitating a smooth intranet adoption process because it mirrors the interfaces which they already use.
- Send push notifications to alert employees at any time.
Intranet Integrations – If your organization is already using applications that you are pleased with and want to integrate them into your intranet, you can do that. Intranets are compatible with existing applications and solutions like Google Workspace.
Some examples of apps that can be integrated are:
- Google Analytics
- Twitter and other social media feeds
- Google calendar
- Google Drive
Analytics – With an intranet analytics feature implemented into your intranet, you can easily turn your data into informative dashboards and reports that are easy to read, share, and customize.
Here are some examples of what this feature can do:
- Integrate Google Analytics to monitor how your people are using the intranet.
- Connect up Google Data Studio to create beautiful reports to show employee efficiency and accomplishments.
Enterprise search(also called universal search)– A streamlined search engine can help users find what they need quickly, which maximizes efficiency.
Here is what a good search engine does:
- After you type something in, you can see an aggregated list of results.
- Search across intranet, apps, and every working part of your intranet.
- Weed out irrelevant information and show results for the most updated, relevant content.
How to know if you need an intranet: 6 questions to ask
There are different ways to examine why you need an intranet in your organization. These questions can help you with assessing your current intranet needs:
- What applications are you using right now?
- What intranet strategies can you implement to improve your communications?
- What are the intranet requirements that can solve your main communication issues? (Make a list)
- What are your employees’ needs? (Ask them)
- What intranet fits your most? (Prioritize)
- Do you want to buy or to build an intranet? (Talk to an expert)
7 tips on choosing your intranet
A concrete plan for an intranet strategy should be offered based on these findings, and it should address the specific business benefits that it will deliver. This will also help with creating a perfect RFP (Request for proposal).
Tips on selecting an intranet:
- Ask yourself the big, important questions.
- Gather as much data as possible and analyze for actionable outcomes.
- Figure out your goals, both abstract and concrete.
- Consult your leadership team and an intranet expert.
- Start talking to get your staff on-board with the change.
- Set up training (preliminary and ongoing).
- Continue to promote your intranet for a smooth adoption process.
Do you want to get more tips, how to find a new intranet? Read our buyer's handbook blogpost and follow our 5 recommended tips or download directly of handbook in form of a PDF. or read our blog post about intranet best practices.
With this information, you should have a fully-formed picture of the intranet as a whole, how it has developed, how it functions in the workplace, and how to implement it for your own business.
Aside from asking broad questions or getting an initial feel for how your employees would react to an intranet switch or implementation, there are specific intranet needs-analysis techniques you can use to assess your organization and its optimal intranet strategy. Some examples of these techniques include:
- Focus groups
- Staff and stakeholder interviews
- Workplace observation
- Contextual inquiry
- Task analysis
Implement an intranet system with these 5 steps
You already know what steps you can take to try to prevent potential challenges when implementing a new intranet. This is a list based off those suggestions on the measures your organization should take to make sure you are ready to implement your new intranet.
- Budget first
After weighing out your goals for an intranet system, you should have a good idea of what type of features your organization wants. Investigating pricing from different vendors that custom-make intranets (such as Happeo) to get a good idea of what kind of budget is required for this intranet adoption.
- Learn who your employees are
Does your organization fit the profile of those you have seen with successful intranet adoptions? You need to know your employee demographics, because if your intranet is not accepted by your employees, then no matter how advanced it is – it will fail. Figure out what employees struggle with, and where you foresee struggles occurring in the intranet adoption process.
- Assess your staffing options
Do you have people on-board that you know could aid in this intranet implementation, or will you need to find a new team to champion this project? Decide if your enterprise has staff members that could take on the intranet implementation and see it through in order to ensure successful system adoption.
- Get people on board
Prepare people for the change and get them excited to be involved in the process. Start putting the word out there that this is a possibility and see what kind of feedback you receive. From that feedback, you can respond to any fears or doubts that employees may have in the intranet adoption process.
- Determine your intranet KPIs
Even before you are settled on implementing an intranet, you should start looking into your current intranet performance and identifying areas of improvement so you can map out your success when the intranet is adopted.
How to track intranet performance
Planning an intranet analysis
Creating a plan to measure your intranet's success can be challenging as you are looking to improve things like employee engagement, team work, collaboration, and effective communication – all factors that are difficult to quantify.
Here are some things to consider for planning to measure intranet performance and quantify intranet success.
- Determine your intranet strategy and objectives. The objectives of your intranet should align with the goals of your business, and therefore the intranet system implementation should have a measurable, direct impact in reaching these goals.
- Define your intranet KPIs. Sit down with your leadership team and talk about where you want to see improvement and how you can map that out. Good intranet KPIs should be specific, measurable, achievable (for targets), relevant, and time-limited. If you're thinking to yourself 'Yea yea, I've heard that before, it doesn't really inspire', then consider adopting OKRs rather than KPIs.
- Start implementing your intranet KPIs before launching the new intranet, and make sure to gather as much data as possible from your old system in order to see improvements of the new intranet. Test out the KPIs before you fully implement your new intranet system.
- Figure out what you will use as your baseline for intranet performance measurement. You can use a baseline from launch to measure performance. Here you can collect data from the last month of your old intranet or the first month of your new intranet. Google Analytics might be a good help. Look back at 12 weeks of rolling data and take the average – you've just found your baseline.
Intranet KPIs examples
These intranet KPI examples show how to concretely measure your intranet KPIs and what success will look like from improving intranet performance:
- Financial: Example KPIs include, for example, reduced travel expenses – since meetings are over the intranet. Intranet performance results can be seen on a quarterly travel expense report.
- Behavioral: Example KPIs include the number of instances where employees kept documents efficiently on the intranet. Intranet performance results can be seen through a decreased number of rejected requests by employees or a similar process.
- Reaction: Example KPIs include a rise in employee satisfaction and easier Internal Communications with the new intranet strategies. Intranet performance results can be seen through employee surveys.
- Technological: Example KPIs include a reduction in IT needs and documents loading quicker. Intranet performance results can be seen in lower IT requests, page-loading time and file-loading time.
- Experiential: Example KPIs include customers receiving more relevant, accurate information and the amount of time to submit documents is reduced. Intranet performance results can be seen through a reduced number of complaints coming through.
3 successful intranet use case examples
Now we have the basics of the intranet down – what it does, how it works and features to look for – but what does this actually look like when implemented?
We’ve looked into specific case studies from organizations using this new type of intranet, or intranet 2.0, to find intranets and give examples of how intranet implementation works. Take a look into their implementation and adoption process.
Case 1: Yle
Yle is Finland's national public broadcasting organizations founded in 1926. The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle operates four national television channels, 9 radio channels and services, and 25 regional radio stations. They have roughly 3000 employees in 25 locations.
A few years back, Yle decided it was time to adopt a new intranet, because their old one was severely outdated. The organization wanted to buy an intranet through a monthly fee for a SaaS product instead of getting a free intranet, which would have meant to build their own intranet by mean of an open source. After a lengthy process of collecting data to define their new system and meet employees’ needs, they approached Happeo about creating an intranet specific to meeting their requirements.
Their requirements were:
- Accessibility from different devices
- Easy information searching and sharing
- User-friendly intranet for daily work
- Enterprise Social Network (ESN)
- Social intranet features
Example of intranet:
Since Yle is a majority state-owned organization, they were required to implement a public tender process to select their replacement for their old IBM-and-Microsoft based collaboration tools.
Yle was able to investigate free intranets and paid intranets by looking through a variety of choices to build their favorite intranet. They decided to implement Google for Work for email, calendar and document handling, and Happeo for communications, internal website, and collaboration.
The implementation process was split into 3 phases, which also consisted of a “super group” who were the first to test out the systems. This group then also helped decide how this intranet should be implemented company-wide.
Here are the results of Happeo implementation in Yle:
- More external partners and collaborating in a greater variety of ways than ever before
- Cost benefits through the move to Google-based solutions
- A mean to discuss work and projects, share files, find information and schedule events through the same interface.
- Possibility to publish and share information through an effective, user-friendly interface.
- Easy information search through Happeo’s Search feature, which looks across all Google apps for content – not just the file title.
- Assistance in office restructure and possibility to keep in touch with colleagues and work together across locations.
- Increased independency of employees in technology related issues with the implementation of Google Tips Channel.
Case 2: Music Retail Holding
Music Retail Holding is Scandinavia’s leading music appliances chain with 34 stores and around 400 employees spread across Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
With such a vast reach, Music Retail was struggling with real-time communication between their headquarters and various stores. Their old model was for the sales department to visit various stores, but as Music Retail became more efficient, they favored emails and phone calls over versus visits. They quickly realized this was not a good move for them.
Store staff did not feel supported because they lacked easy access to a computer, or the time to take a phone call. Headquarters decided that a mobile app could help them with this communication confusion, so they began their search.
Peter Felldin, the Marketing Manager at 4Sound explains the difficulty of the situation:
“The store managers felt frustrated because they didn’t know who to turn to when their staff needed support with marketing campaigns or when they couldn’t find sales information relevant to them. The sales and marketing departments at the headquarters also felt frustrated because they used a lot of time and effort in communicating with the stores, but no one saw it.”
Their requirements were:
- Extremely intuitive and easy for a significant number of employees
- Open and clear conversational communication across the board
- Instrument for building and communicating a collective culture
- SaaS product and not open source to build a free intranet
Example of intranet:
Music Retail looked into different intranets, but eventually chose to implement Happeo’s intranet based mainly on its easy-to-use, intuitive interface paired with its compatibility with Google's G Suite. The Music Retail team started a trial with Happeo, starting with some light communications, sharing short news pieces and pictures.
“There’s an increased demand for better intranets. Customers that moved to G Suite often find that the next step is to look at replacing their legacy intranets, which are difficult to use and cost a lot. We recommended Happeo for them because of its intuitive user interface and advanced features.”
~ Ronald Haagensen, Business Development Director at Avalon Solutions
Benefits and results:
- Seamless communication between headquarters and stores
- Easier information search, and improved information sharing process
- Enhanced collaboration among employees through various channels
“As a Marketing Manager, my biggest concern is our campaigns. Only 20% of the stores used to be familiar with our marketing campaigns. With Happeo the situation has completely turned around, and 80% of the stores are well-informed of what is going on. It’s quite a remarkable change!”
Peter Felldin, Marketing Manager at 4Sound
Case 3: DORMA
DORMA is a global organization that provides premium access operating systems for buildings. It is headquartered in Germany, but employs 7,000 people and works with 50 different organizations across the world. DORMA has over 100 years of experience in building exceptional door systems to meet various needs.
DORMA prides itself on its innovation, which keeps it ahead of its competition, and it needed an intranet to help sustain and support this model. The leadership decided to implement a brand new intranet system to take DORMA to the next level in its innovative and technological market domination.
Their requirements were:
- Easy access for all employees by implementing their vision of “Access to Innovation”
- Improved communication and connection among employees across the globe
- Quick implementation
- Engagement and support to drive content management among employees
Example of intranet:
DORMA adopted Unily - an intranet, which brought their productivity to a new level.
Unily was able to implement the system quickly, and they also developed features specific to the needs of DORMA, which is what pushed the organization to choose Unily.
Unily provided DORMA with a news-center homepage, a custom intranet Content Management System, social media and directory, document management, and a mobile app to fulfill their intranet needs.
Benefits and results:
- Employees are informed and connected through the news center and the corporate messaging system.
- Content creation and management has been simplified allowing employees to focus on the content they are creating rather than the process of building it.
- More effective and higher quality communication between employees through the integration of Yammer and creation of a directory and personal profiles.
- Employees are supported and equipped through anytime-access with the mobile app.
Through adopting Unily’s cloud-based intranet, DORMA was able to launch its new core value – Access to Innovation. This innovative intranet allowed DORMA to expand this core organization value to all of its employees across the globe.
Intranet user reviews
While all of these features sound great, what matters most is how the employees interact with the intranet. Capterra gathered examples of different intranets and allowed real intranet users to review their intranet adoption experience with these systems. This is what the users had to say:
Janine W., a user of Unily
“Creating an intranet is about flexibility of functionality to build sites and integrate with SharePoint to support communities of practice. Supports expertise location through the people directory, profiles and Insights feature. So easy to use through drag and drop widgets and an intuitive intranet content management system. Straightforward to administer via permission control. The user experience is seamless (user friendly intranet); navigate through metadata, dedicated areas for different features such as links, news, documents, social channels, and search is powerful. User support is fantastic, Brightstarr support their customers every step of the way. Overall, my aim was to implement a technology that would be a mechanism to support knowledge sharing, collaboration, communication and ultimately be the foundation of our digital workplace through integration with Office 365. Unily does all of that! Also, the intranet is not free, but it comes with a pricing that is based on the amount of users.”
“I rely heavily on metadata to drive the search, navigation and tagging in Unily. Unily metadata is driven from the SharePoint term store, which is excellent because I only need to manage one term store and it synchronises overnight to Unily. It would be good if the synchronisation was more frequent; instead we just plan for the overnight synchronisation. The Unily metadata feature is superb, however at times it has been tricky to get the balance right when building the term store to suit both the Unily and SharePoint environments.”
Jamie B., a user of Happeo
“The social intranet of Happeo enables us to make the most of our existing G Suite systems. This has meant that user adoption has been relatively simple given that colleagues are already used to Drive, Calendar and Gmail. As well as that Happeo is a very user friendly intranet and easy to understand and use. The team at Happeo have been great to work with while creating an intranet and building our first internal comms system. There was a lot of unknowns for us having never done this before but the team walked us through each step to ensure we were asking the right questions at the right time.”
“There are too many choices with regards the structure of the platform and pages. It would be easier if there were a few page templates to use rather than everything bespoke.”
Tom R., a user of SharePoint
“SharePoint is relatively simple to use to configure sites, user groups, and the like. Like most intranet content management systems, it can have a default "look and feel" across just about all aspects of a site or group of sites. Its integration with Office 365 is thorough. If you have basic needs for hosting an internal site, with no particular need for complicated integrations or workflows, SharePoint Online is a viable internal comms instrument.”
“Unlike the on-premise version of SharePoint, you do have a number of restrictions with SharePoint Online. There is no access to certain logs for troubleshooting. There is no direct access to the database driving the site. Certain automated processes are limited in scope and frequency. You pay more than with a free and open source intranet but it is worth it.”
Social intranet has many different uses, portals, features, menus, links, etc. But the point of implementing this new intranet is to engage, connect, and collaborate with employees across the organization.
If all of these features are organized and user-friendly, then your social intranet implementation experience should be very positive for employees, which will benefit your organization as a whole and drive the adoption process. The possibilities of creating an intranet and its functions are vast. What is important is to keep your organization, its intranet goals, and your user profile in mind to find the right number and type of features and integrations that will work for you.