In the era of digital workplace, is your intranet dead?
With more vendors, consultants, experts and commentators rushing to join the Digital Workplace bandwagon (now BrightStarr too!), how do you make sense of it all?
What defines a digital workplace is up for debate. As you might expect, many books, seminars, conferences and numerous white-papers are dedicated to explaining it.
For us at BrightStarr, we think of it as an argument about why your businesses and organisations should try to bring together all of their internal operations alongside how you communicate externally with your customers and suppliers, into a single coherent digital strategy.
The benefit of having a coherent digital strategy will hopefully help improve how you operate and importantly be of benefit to the service your customers get.
All of that seems like a ‘no brainer’. Like electricity, digital technology is an integral part of how most businesses and organisations operate. Turn it off, complications would soon arise of not being able to operate, communicate or collaborate. But nevertheless, putting an all-encompassing digital strategy in place is not an easy nor straightforward task.
So why is the digital workplace gaining traction now?
Even though as a concept it has been around for a number of years, it has taken off more recently primarily because of a combination of factors. These include more affordable technology, and internally bringing together customer-facing functions and services. Consequently, after a prolonged economic slowdown, many companies have had to seriously rethink how they operate in order to remain competitive and relevant.
We think there are five major reasons driving the digital workplace trend:
- Reduced cost of technology and the prevalence of cloud-based hosted data
- Demand from employees for mobile-based and flexible working
- Higher customer expectations that are driving internal integration of functions and services
- Employees who are expecting better working environments, tools and benefits
- The fragmentation of the software marketplace into niche apps, tools and services that meet a growing need how staff want to work
Does all of this change mean your current intranet is dead or redundant?
The intranet has traditionally been a place for internal communications, news, policies, people directory and corporate information.
However, along with the growth of myriad digital tools and processes that reflect many new ways companies are streamlining their operations, the traditional intranet – once a fixed, static, single source of truth – had to follow suit or become irrelevant.
Many now include enterprise social networks, feature employee self service tools, include HR systems, and let employees collaborate far better than ever before. Which is why we think your intranet should remain a central part of your digital workplace strategy. But this means thinking about it in a new way.
Rather than insisting that everything must fit onto your intranet, what matters more is a platform that is the central gateway that links to and centralises all your disparate digital systems, tools, apps, and content in one place.
This could be as simple as being the central hub that links together all of your various applications. Alternatively, it can provide a deeper level of integration with your tools and processes – such as your customer and supply chain management tools – targeting and promoting them to the right users at the right time.
Your intranet is not dead, but in an age where there are so many kinds of digital tools, apps, processes and content to choose from, without having a coherent and centrally managed platform, you risk losing the will of your staff who will waste time having to find the right tools and documents meant to keep them productive and efficient.
So where do you go from here?
First of all, and as obvious as it sounds, your digital workplace strategy must reflect alongside your corporate goals and ambition. Otherwise it will risk becoming yet another technology white elephant. Hence, if your focus is on mobility, then your focus should be on how to create a mobile-based platform; or in the case of needing to raise productivity, on how to provide staff with the right tools to simplify their work.
Therefore, see your intranet not as a fixed publishing tool, but rather as a platform that will bring together and aggregate everything you need in one place: communications, collaboration tools, services, links to business apps, to providing links to each teams' workspaces.
So as with Microsoft Office 365 and with countless social platforms like Yammer, Jive, Chatter, the modern intranet must be flexible enough to host all these and more tools, whilst at the same time, providing everyone with an essential common language every business and organisation needs in order to survive.
It must remain the go-to place for essential communication, whilst providing each employee with simple easy access to all the tools you need, to get on with your work with little or no fuss.