The intranet software revolution: changing the way we work
By Toby Ward, Microsoft Guest Author
The digital workplace is revolutionizing at high-speed; leading the charge is the heart of the digital workplace, the gateway to employee tools, the intranet. From custom-built to portals to complete digital workplace solutions, intranet software solutions are changing the way we work, fed by trends in artificial intelligence (AI), social computing, and mobile access.
Content Management & Portals
In the early '90s, the first intranets were custom-built, home-grown initiatives; followed by the content management revolution with hundreds of vendor solutions hitting the market. At the turn of the millennium a new burgeoning market was developing: intranet software. Led by so-called ‘portal’ solutions, the new solutions focused on providing a home page veneer to disparate intranet sites and applications, with a focus on application integration. The portal solutions have evolved to include content management, search, and other features.
Of course, effective content management tools represent the holy grail of intranet for business users, particularly those in corporate communications and human resources (HR). These intranet software systems allow non-techie users to create, publish and manage content over time, with many advanced features for manipulating images, files, and multimedia. Advanced content management solutions include enterprise content management controls, digital asset management (DAM), and even records management with audit and compliance controls.
In the past few years, some leading intranet software solutions have become complete digital workplace solutions – full web-development with portal, content management, and business intelligence and integration services, bound together by a robust search with a focus on employee teamwork and collaboration.
Of course, the digital workplace is more than just the intranet on steroids; the digital workplace is the workplace of digitally interconnected tools used to get work done – the sum of all digital tools (internal and external).
5 reasons to move to the cloud
What you should know about moving your business to the cloud and the benefits of making the switch.Learn more
More and more users are accessing the intranet from their phone or tablet, from the road or home. As such, responsive or dedicated mobile intranet sites are becoming the norm.
With an increasingly younger workforce that is attached to their mobile phone, user-friendly mobile intranet access is a must. In fact, by 2025, it is estimated that 75% of the workforce will be millennials – young adults who see their phone as another appendage; accessing everything via their phone, and working and communicating via social tools.
Further to the trend in mobile teamwork and collaboration, some leading intranet solutions are releasing dedicated intranet apps that promote intranet access and use with a single-touch. The emphasis of the dedicated intranet app is of course ease-of-use – a very clean and functional user experience supporting easy and fast access to information, collaboration and teamwork amongst colleagues. These new generation apps allow users to easily access the intranet, but also receive pushed updates to various sites, even comment notifications.
Microsoft has just a released a new SharePoint app that intends to revolutionize the intranet app experience (Install the new SharePoint app to really appreciate the new mobile intranet experience). Networking giant Cisco has more than 60 dedicated intranet apps for employees.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
The next phase of the revolution is already spreading rapidly: the advance of artificial intelligence fueled by chatbots, digital assistants and inference engines. More and more employees familiar with Alexa and Google are increasingly comfortable using AI. According to the 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Report, 41% of CEOs claim to have implemented chatbots already.
Intranet software continues to evolve and revolutionize at Internet and mobile speed, at the nexus of people, process, and portals in the digital workplace.
A part-time journalist, Toby Ward is long-time writer and speaker, and the founder of intranet and digital workplace consulting firm Prescient Digital Media. His annual conference, the Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum is North America’s premier intranet conference for digital workplace best practices.