May 28, 2015
Reviving The Intranet
Are Intranets Dead?
No, Intranets are not dead.
Despite a lot of consensus online to the contrary, I would like to hereby put it to you that intranets are not dead, and in fact can be the number one thriving resource of great companies, large and small, if only they’d choose to focus on making theirs great – or even investing in one at all.
While it’s certainly true that a bad intranet is nothing but a bane on a business, it’s also true that nearly all of those companies who are experiencing this sort of failure in their intranets are not giving them the attention that they need.
An under-funded, under-appreciated and under-used intranet will of course be a dead weight on a company’s network. But, if these same companies would just simply change their attitude towards their intranets, then they would almost certainly find that these brilliant internal networks are in fact live and well – and can even prove to be the lifeblood of their business.
The intranet is not dead. It is perhaps a little poorly and a little malnourished – but that’s nothing that a little bit of investment won’t cure. And I choose the word ‘investment’ quite pointedly. For investing in an intranet will ultimately see you a return. You will be returned in efficiency savings, productivity savings, and savings on administration and human resources. This is not an out and out business expense, but a meaningful investment that your business can make that will save you money in the long run.
There is a theory that the rise of social media has sounded the death toll of intranets, and indeed will eventually replace them – and the need for them – outright altogether. This just simply isn’t true. For instance, social media has yet to negate the need for email, and, to be honest, this is a far more likely occurrence. But, it hasn’t, and it won’t – and nor will it be the death of the intranet.
Social media is a great alternative channel that a lot of companies can benefit from. And indeed, social networks can in fact enhance a company’s intranet. And I’m not necessarily talking about Facebook or Twitter here – although there’s no reason at all why these two giants can’t be used to enhance a company’s experience of the intranet. Rather, I’m talking about social platforms such as ThoughtFarmer, SocialCast and SocialText.
These three are great examples of technology platforms that power a great intranet – but they are not slayers of the intranet. No, these platforms are the cloud-based solutions that are becoming the intranet.
These are social intranets, yes, but intranets all the same. They are indeed the embodiment of the intranet’s evolution.
All About Users
The success and even the revival of an intranet in the end will always boil down to the people who use it. It’s all about the authors, the contributors and the managers.
Furthermore, successful intranets are all about the processes and policies that are implemented to govern these users’ output. Employees do not login to the company’s intranet in order to be entertained, to play games, or to send jovial private messages to their colleagues – they use Facebook for that (though hopefully not on company time). No, employees access the intranet in order to gain quick and easy access to information.
The intranet is the place where all of the professional profiles of everyone who works in the company can be found. It is where the chain of command gets displayed for all to see and understand. It’s where teams and groups can collaborate on projects together. It’s where breaking corporate news gets published for all to see. Where phone numbers are published, company files, manuals, benefits procedures, etc. etc. etc.
No, it’s not that the intranet is dead in the water at all, but rather that companies have forgotten how useful they can be.
And this is my problem with the whole ‘the intranet is dead’ debate. It’s not the technology that is dead, nor even dying, to be honest, for there are new innovations happening all the time. But, it does rely on commitment from the company to make it work.
Great intranets can save invaluable time on the search for information. Think about it – when an employee wants to access pay or compensation statements, to whom do they turn t? Are they expected to just know? Do they email a colleague, who then tells them to email the manager, who then tells them to phone HR, who promptly tells them that the payments and admin team are on vacation for the next 2 weeks so the enquiry will have to wait?
With an intranet, that same employee can quickly head online to the appropriate page and get all of this information – including which members of staff are not currently present – in just a few clicks. What a time saver, and therefore a productivity generator.
No, intranets are not a meaningless expense or just a fun toy from the past. They are useful tools that can provide a company with invaluable resources that can be shared right around the office, and even beyond to those working in the field or from home.
Intranets are not going anywhere, and nor should they. They deserve our attention and our commitment to revive them. So, let’s do it together.