Reading the recently-released white paper “Collaborate for change: How Australian organisations can enhance productivity through usability and knowledge sharing“, I was given pause to consider the history of that mainstay of organisation knowledge sharing, the enterprise intranet.

Since I was first involved with designing intranets in the mid -1990s, I have witnessed their continued development in line with technology trends.   Basic intranets, with news and links to policy documents, have been extended to include a bewildering range of capabilities, such as image libraries, staff directories, application launch pads, enterprise search, workflow, business dashboards, document management, collaboration and more.

Over this period intranet have been firmly established as part of the core applications found in modern workplaces and a search for “intranet” using Google Trends (a very handy tool for marketers) reveals that interest in intranets remains strong.

My view is that the continued relevance of intranets comes down to their effectiveness in three main areas –

Helping staff to:

  1. Find out what is going on
  2. Find key information they need to do their jobs
  3. Quickly share information with other team members

 

Putting this a little more succinctly, we’re talking about boosting organisational agility and efficiency by supporting collaboration and communication.

disengaged employees

Into this come the mega trends of the past 15 years – cloud storage, ubiquitous high-speed internet access, mobility, messaging  and social sharing.  Individually and collectively, these trends have rapidly transformed the consumer and enterprise worlds.  What is key about these trends is that, like intranets, they are primarily driving changes in collaboration and communication.

 

Social networks  – such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn – have for many people become the predominant channel for social communication.  In the white paper rhipe Solutions report that a recent survey have reveals that “80% of Australians aged 16 or over (more than 15M people) are using Facebook for content sharing and messaging.”    The message for modern organisations is that people want to be able to share information and, when this is enabled through well-designed tools, will do so with great enthusiasm!

Microsoft has been quick to recognise the importance and value for social capabilities.   Initial, tentative, forays into the enterprise social space by Microsoft were moved forwards massively when Microsoft acquired the then sector-leader, Yammer.  Yammer has since been integrated into Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based, intranet and collaboration platform.

enterprise collaboration

 

Yammer, together with other Office 365 capabilities – such as email, Office apps, SharePoint, OneDrive and Skype for Business – now provides a platform for a new era of intranets, that provide a wider level of capability.  As the white paper also notes: “Applications like activity streams, Web-based messaging, rapid publishing and content sharing are routinely performed on popular public social networks and allow people to collaborate and share knowledge in ways many traditional enterprise applications do not.”

rhipe Solutions works with our customers to maximise return on their investments in Office 365 and Azure.  For Office 365 customers seeking an intranet we have developed “PortalGo“, a packaged solution that provides core intranet capabilities while taking full advantage of the Office 365 feature suite.  We also have fully custom solution for customers after a more bespoke intranet.

PortalGo! flyer

Author: Andrew Bishop, Principal Consultant, rhipe Solutions