All over the Internet, there are blog posts and authors sentencing intranets to death. Is this true? (maybe, why not?). Most of these —somehow— biased blogs express the opinion that Intranets are dead as we used to know them in the past, and how, conveniently, the product they bring is the new cool product every company should use.
Here’s our point of view.
It’s easy to notice collaboration and digital workplaces are alive and actually booming. It’s not a coincidence that Microsoft is betting high on Sharepoint and Teams, the fact Google offers free Gmail to promote Gsuite, and the stunning idea that Slack managed to reach more than 8 million users and 3 million customers in less than a decade. The collaborative software market is continuously evolving and being filled with thousands of alternatives. We’re in the era of collaboration and digital workplaces.
Paradoxically, while collaborative software solutions are becoming more relevant, (if one would believe the talk) Intranets seem to be the past that companies pursuing digital transformation are trying to escape from.
But, what has changed? What has made intranets so infamous or unattractive? The reason, as mentioned before, is not a reduction in the collaborative market size: collaborative tools are foundational for organizations, especially when many of them are switching to remote working. According to a survey of 425 IT professionals, companies use an average of 4,4 collaborative solutions from 3 providers, increasing the costs and complexity of deployments.
What changed is workers consumption behaviors:
- More and more workers are not in the office for the weekly 40 working hours. Some of them don’t even go to an office!
- As social networks and instant messaging apps like Facebook were widely adopted, businesses started to identify similar “social” needs in their internal communications. As a simple example, Intranets based on the earliest versions of Sharepoint didn’t take UX-UI in consideration until they proved to increase usage, engagement, and usability, leading to better communication.
- Real-time communication has become a must. Gone are the days were HR teams published content on static pages. Nowadays, workers spend significant time in business chats and video conference meetings.
- Collaboration has evolved to something larger than a private site and transformed into a digital space where teams can share documents, ideas, have meetings, create and assign projects, break down into departments and teams, and enables not just top-down, but also bottom-up communication. Basically, every feature that mirrors human interactions in the workplace can be part of a collaborative software solution.
This is our verdict. Corporate intranets are not dying, but the stereotyped idea of intranets from a decade ago is dying. This “old-fashioned” version of intranets some large organizations still implement are characterized by:
- Wordart-like, ugly interfaces reminiscent of the early 2000’s. Their design could be good for the deep web, not the visible web.
- Unilateral communication: Only admins can post static content
- Poor, infrequent content sharing
- Strictly used for internal documentation and announcements, not actual conversations.
Corporate Intranets are not dying, but the idea we have of them is (and should)
This needs a change in perspective. Instead of thinking of static homepages, think of intranets as the hub of collaboration—and that changes everything.
While instant messaging apps are gaining the headlines, they do not cover the entire gamut of collaborative needs in an organization. Further, document sharing and management are foundational for organizations in order to create, share and manage knowledge and processes, but represent a tool, not the whole workplace. The same with video conferencing apps, databases, workflows and social spaces, they represent new exciting features that will enable a digital workplace. However, many companies still want an environment where everything is gathered under the same umbrella – this is the modern intranet.
And this is one of the reasons many companies still choose options like HyperOffice for corporate intranets – companies which see value in offering a unified experience rather than having workers jump back and forth between tools, and have their knowledge captured in a single place, rather than be scattered across multiple tools.
- What does an updated, social and corporate intranet look like? We’ve gathered 7 real intranet examples so you can better understand the features and use cases.
- If you know Microsoft Sharepoint but would like to consider other options —and distinguish real from hyped options— we recommend you 4 actual Sharepoint alternatives: not every collaborative app is a Sharepoint alternative.
- If you want to see all the things a feature-rich intranet can do, we present you 17 applications of intranets in business.
- If you don’t want to focus on technology but implementation, we recommend you to read about Internal communications best practices and examples from world-leading companies.