Networking & Communications

The Evolution of the Intranet: Intelligent Communication in a Social World

For too long intranets were viewed as the poorer relation to the website. This downgrading of the intranet was due to a fundamental issue with the way intranets traditionally operated which made them ineffective and redundant to a productive workforce.

Intranets were managed by one person, who made the decision on what and when information is pushed out. Unfortunately information is often not tailored for employees with different needs.

Recently there has been a massive step change in both the perception and use of intranets. Consequently, intranet investment levels have increased significantly relative to corporate websites.

One of the biggest developments to kick-start the intranet evolution was the ease with which anyone can upload content. Many organisations have introduced ‘Intranet Champions’ in departments such as marketing and HR. It has made the updating of intranets less of a technical nightmare, meaning an up-to-date intranet is no longer dependent on the IT department.

The evolution into a social intranet

A report from evidence-based user research company, the Nielsen Norman Group, shows social features within an intranet are essential for supporting employee collaboration and knowledge management.

As organisations adopt a ‘social’ intranet, it is not uncommon to have thousands of people contributing to intranet content on a daily basis, through blogs, comments, ‘Likes’, ‘Shares’ and status updates.

An intranet’s social capabilities not only aid knowledge sharing, but are important when someone leaves an organisation, taking with them their valuable knowledge and experience. A social intranet makes conversations more public and structured so knowledge is maintained internally.

However, the social intranet has created a problem; namely masses of information which employees have to sift through to find the relevant content.

This causes frustration and leads to a lack of employee engagement, and individuals are likely to miss vital information that helps them do their work. The creation of this ‘noise’ can therefore have great detrimental effect on productivity.

Increasing productivity through people-focused communication

When an employee requires information to do their job effectively, knowing who to approach to find relevant information can be a minefield, whilst searching on intranets can be time consuming. McKinsey recently reported workers spend approximately 28 hours per week searching and collaborating.

The Nielsen Norman Group’s report shows knowledge within a social intranet must be carefully managed to support employee collaboration. An integrated search functionality that searches the intranet’s entire social layer in addition to other content is essential. The report also highlights how social intranet projects must be driven by business needs to make them most effective.

In a time critical world, the demand for accurate and relevant content that supports specific employee requirements to enable people to get work done efficiently is more crucial than ever. For a modern day intranet to become essential to an organisation’s success, relying on social alone is not enough.

Blending social and intelligent communication is key

Statistics from Mckinsey show an organisation’s productivity can increase by 25% with the right technology and culture. However, a number of our customers have shown that this increase in productivity levels can be surpassed.

This can be achieved by utilising a blend of social and productivity tools which aid internal communication, collaboration and key business processes. This reinvigorates employee engagement, empowers staff and increases productivity.

The benefits of a social intranet are numerous, but for the collaboration it brings to be both effective and efficient, the noise must be intelligently filtered to make content targeted to its intended audiences. For example, Amazon recommendations make suggestions to consumers based on previous searches and purchases.

To truly aid productivity, intranets must use data from social tools to study an individual’s connections, interactions, intranet behaviour and profile data to construct a unique profile DNA for each user and filter the most relevant content accordingly. The result is a social, intelligent intranet which makes the right content find the right people.

As the intranet has evolved, it has become a powerful digital workspace which constantly accumulates content, people, collaboration and services. Whilst the power of intranets continues to grow, the task has got even tougher to ensure an intranet is equipped to play an essential role in aligning itself to an organisation’s long-term success.

By Nigel Danson, CEO and founder of Interact


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Nigel Danson

CEO and founder of Interact

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