What you need to know about intranets in 2016

By Rick Sethi, Professional Advantage

Share ButtonIf your most valuable team member resigned tomorrow, would you know where to find the reports, project updates or files your colleague had been working on? If you’ve ever tried to retrieve a document that has been saved to someone else’s desktop, or buried in an electronic system only the owner understands, you’ll know how time consuming this can be. An effective intranet can save you time, money and administrative headaches by ensuring that your corporate information is easily retrievable and useful.

Whether you’re looking at implementing your first intranet solution or considering an upgrade (and want a solution that employees will actually want to use), here’s what you need to know about intranets in 2016.

In this post we’ll briefly explain what an intranet does, why intranets deliver great value and how to tell if your intranet is ready for an upgrade.

What is an intranet – and do I need one?

When most people think of an intranet, they think of a place to store and retrieve corporate documents. While there’s some truth to this – and many intranets started out that way – it’s not the whole picture anymore. Intranets have evolved to become gateways for employees to share, organise, find and use information collaboratively.

Collaboration is a big part of this too. An effective intranet makes it easier for team members to get things done through a central platform. If you want employees to find answers quickly, ask questions, keep up to date with what’s happening across your organisation and work across teams, then yes, you need an intranet.

Are intranets still relevant in 2016? With so many project management, collaboration and document management tools on the market, it’s easy to see why organisations might be hesitant to upgrade or implement their intranet.

What many don’t realise is that even an average intranet can save your organisation money. Research by consulting group Nielsen Norman has revealed that enterprises can save up to $4 million per year just by improving a bad or outdated intranet to an average intranet. Imagine the benefits of getting a great intranet, or improving your ho-hum intranet into something that really gets results.

Other reasons that modern intranets are relevant:

  • Easy to retrieve information – a central location to store documents and project information means it’s easy to locate knowledge even if a team member leaves suddenly.
  • Secure – permissions and security roles mean that corporate information can be protected
  • Integration with other tools like Outlook, Exchange, Office 365 and Delve leads to improved organisation-wide productivity and efficiency.
  • Smarter communication through easier access to all the tools and information team members need.

What’s new in 2016?

The intranets of 2016 are different from what you might expect. They are no longer just places to store documents or dig up old leave policies.  As the internet has evolved, so have intranets.

Some of the new features intranets offer are:

Social communication tools - People want to know what’s going on across their work area. They like to know who is working on what, and to contribute to group discussions that impact their area of work. The intranets of the future allow employees to instantly create working groups and store all files, documents and discussions for easy reference.

Personalised content - An intranet can provide team members with the information that they need to do their job well. This might include personalised activity portals, collaborative tools and targeted information, depending on the team member’s role.

Improved search capabilities - Users are able to drill down into information that is relevant to their needs and retrieve targeted, relevant search results.

Checklist: What to look for in a new intranet solution

If it’s been a few years since you updated your organisation’s intranet, it might be time to consider whether you’re getting the most from your investment.

Some things to look out for are:

  • Social collaboration tools
  • Advanced search
  • Intuitive user experience
  • Integration with existing technologies
  • Mobile access
  • Ability to personalise individual user dashboards
  • Location-based services
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility

Do you have a plan for your intranet for 2016? Find out more about how intranets can transform the way your organisation captures and shares information and gets things done. Register for Professional Advantage’s free Future of Intranets events, to be held in Sydney and Melbourne in February 2016.