Turn the clock back to the 1990s, and the concept of an organization launching its own corporate intranet site for employees was a hot topic.
Spurred on by the explosion of the internet and greater use of technology as a communication medium in the workplace, many businesses were excited by the prospect of an advanced technological tool with which to communicate directly with their employees.
Fast forward to today, and you won’t be surprised to hear that the notion of the corporate intranet site is fading, and more than that, it is very unpopular in organizations that are still using it. This seems to be a global trend that is common across all industries.
What are corporate intranet sites?
Essentially, intranets were designed to be a virtual meeting place for employees. They allowed employees to keep in touch with business developments through news updates, share information and knowledge, and work more collaboratively with colleagues across other departments.
The idea was that all important and useful company information was housed in one place for maximum ease and efficiency. Corporate intranet sites grew rapidly in popularity, but have been slowly declining for a number of years now.
Why are intranet sites fading away?
At face value, the decrease in popularity of intranets is puzzling. The benefits are clear on paper, and there’s no doubt that the business world is continuously moving towards a more streamlined, collaborative ethos, with technology being a key factor. However, look more closely, and there are some fundamental flaws with the concept of intranets and how they fit in today’s modern workplaces.
First, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the collaborative nature of organizations that has changed – if anything, this focus is increasing and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s actually the type of digital consumption that employees engage in that has changed. This is the big reason behind the fall of intranets.
Many organizations now offer remote working in one form or another, allowing employees to be less desk-based and have greater autonomy in terms of where and how they conduct their working week. This style of working has led to an increased reliance on instant messaging and social media apps to provide the instantaneous communication that is so vital in many workplaces.
Traditional intranet sites don’t offer this form of real-time communication. Instead, they are focused on published information that is only updated periodically. For the fast-paced nature of many businesses these days, this information is often deemed out of date or out of touch by the time it is read.
Another important factor to be aware of is the concept of information sharing within teams and across organizations as a whole. Intranets are seen as areas of static data, usually with an information-giver (the company) and an information-receiver (the employee). Increasingly, teams are now looking for ways to share their creative ideas, data, and results in real time. Teams often like to participate in online face-to-face meetings or idea sharing sessions that are more spontaneous in nature. Smarter, more collaborative software is needed to facilitate this new-age working style.
What is the future of the Intranet?
Does all of this mean the intranet as we have known it can no longer add value to an organization? While it’s certainly the case that the traditional style of intranet sites from 10 or 20 years ago is probably no longer fit for the majority of companies, it’s not to say that there aren’t great opportunities to make them work in today’s modern organizations.
If your business has an intranet that is stale, under-used, and out of touch, think creatively about how it could work to meet your business’ and employees’ needs once again.
Many organizations are shifting from the concept of an intranet to a digital workplace. A digital workplace functions in many of the same ways that an intranet did, but it is much more dynamic. Users can post information, have conversations, manage projects, automate processes, and quickly find information related to their core work.
Modern digital workplaces will replace intranets to facilitate your organization’s ways of working Thus allowing your teams to collaborate both virtually and face to face easily, as well as share ideas and communicate instantly. It lets you be smart about how to create engaging and interactive content, rather than having your intranet be all about one-way delivery.
Digital workplaces will also seamlessly connect with other software and systems to be the hub in an entire digital ecosystem. Not only will it be more relevant and well-informed, but it will naturally encourage your employees to use it regularly.
In short, your corporate intranet site can still live to see another day, but making the switch to a digital workplace ensures that it works for your employees’ new and ever-evolving needs is the only way to ensure its long-term survival.