No, this is not another predictions blog. Not that I don’t enjoy the flurry of new predictions that surface this time of year, but to me, many feel too contrived. I am not going to predict the future of intranet software, but rather paint the reality of where intranets are today, or rather, how organizations are already utilizing their intranet in innovative ways they had not dreamed of in the past. This post will also touch on how intranets are continually shaping our workplace and impacting our customers.
While this is not a predictions blog, it does follow a shotgun format of ideas all surrounding the intranet, but not directly related to each other. Bear with me through the scatter…
A Focus on Enterprise Level Resources
It’s no coincidence we decided to focus our first release of 2015 on Enterprise Search. The intranet isn’t just an internal communication system anymore, it is an enterprise level resource. Companies and employees are relying on the intranet more heavily than they have in years past because the capabilities of the intranet have grown far beyond a basic static internal site (check out our History of the Intranet eBook for a full history of the intranet).
From Document Management to Online Forms & Workflows, with Online Training and Employee Boarding, intranet software is being relied upon heavily to pick up the slack for archaic, outdated organizational policies and procedures.
As mentioned before, with the longevity and reliance on the business intranet (with many of our clients using their intranet for well over a decade now) the resources and material stored on the intranet has become vast. Therefore we decided to concentrate on making desired content easier to find, revamping our intranet search tool with our latest release, Super Search. Super Search’s sole focus is on optimizing the Enterprise Intranet Search. It is just another way organizations are heavily relying on their intranet to be an enterprise resource and intranet providers are answering the call with more robust tools that deliver.
Managing Change on the Intranet
Change management isn’t a new concept for businesses, especially those that have been through multiple mergers and acquisitions. However, change management has now become a task your intranet can handle. Keeping your employees informed, engaged and updated with new policies/procedures can now be managed and facilitated through your intranet using Company News, Executive Blogs, Policy Read/Agree Confirmation, Discussion Forums, Online Feedback Forms, Employee Message Boards and many other change management tools.
The Change Management Committee / Executive Committee can be organized through the intranet with an exclusive Change Management / Executive Committee Site containing a meeting calendar, policy review/revision schedules & approvals, corporate communication plans, etc. The intranet offers extensive communication tools that make change management transitions easier by keeping employees more informed.
Automation of Offline Processes / Procedures
Intranet software has been making great strides to further automate and streamline workflows on the intranet, removing paper-based processes and manual redundancies. Anything that can be automated and optimized, such as: content publishing, form routing, course registration, testing and more will be done through your intranet. Many organizations with active Intranet Managers and Evangelists jump at the opportunity to optimize workflows and processes through the intranet.
A long time Intranet Connections customer, Rio Rancho Public Schools, has saved over $500,000 a year by moving outdated, paper-based procedures online, such as: Digitizing Procurement Request for Proposals, Automating Employee Onboarding, Developing Online Medicaid Reporting Forms, Localizing School Broadcast News Online and Centralizing Event Calendars. Rio Rancho Public Schools uncovers innovate ways to leverage their intranet as an enterprise tool and school resource each day, saving them more time, money and resources each year.
UX (User Experience) is Paramount
Forget about intranet design and user interfaces, the intranet is solely focused on the user experience. If a design change or menu restructure does not contribute or benefit the user experience on your intranet, it will likely be ignored.
User Experience is a hot topic these days, aesthetics and arbitrary site changes are out and impacting the how the user interacts with and uses the intranet is in. Our Fearless Founder / CEO, Carolyn Douglas, wrote a compelling article about this for Intranetizen in 2014 that encapsulated the Lean UX Manifesto – Intranet UX: What Drives a Good User Experience?
Understanding and controlling the user experience is paramount to user adoption and employee engagement on the intranet. It is the difference between your intranet being a critical, to-go resource for your organization or a side project owned by your IT Department. The focus on how your employees navigate, find resources and communicate on your intranet is all determined by the user experience your intranet delivers.
The Customer Impact
What may surprise you is the impact your intranet has on your customers. Your intranet embodies and translates your company values and culture to your employees. How you communicate, collaborate and connect on your intranet with your employees leaves them feeling recognized, valued and appreciated or possibly ignored and undervalued.
Chances are you are aiming to provide a reliable, supportive and value driven resource for your employees with your intranet. What you celebrate, honor and recognize on your intranet, this will be shared with customers through your customer-facing staff members. The values and culture you foster and promote through your intranet will be passed through your employees to your clients.
Do you celebrate employee milestones and successes on your intranet? Your employees will naturally want to celebrate customer events as well knowing that your company values and appreciates these moments.
What Is An Intranet in 2015?
An intranet in 2015 is far more comprehensive than is has been in years past. The sheer versatility of your intranet as an enterprise system encompasses far more tools, operations, and value than it once did. What is other areas of your organization the intranet impacting or playing a role in 2015? How else are you utilizing your intranet in 2015 in more expensive ways than you had thought was possible? Please share your experiences with me by commenting below.