A mobile intranet is a critical part of the digital communications ecosystem of any organisation. It is especially important for any company that has a significant deskless frontline workforce. For employees with no easy access to a computer during the working day, and sometimes no corporate digital identity, a mobile intranet app available on a personal device can become their major channel for digital communication, as well as the most efficient. The mobile intranet connects employees who work in factories, shops and out in the field, or who are on the go with their employers and each other.
Successfully delivering a mobile intranet is not always straightforward, and some organisations end up with low adoption and low value. Many of the necessary prerequisites for the success of a standard browser-based intranet, such as governance and the right operating model, also need to be in place for the mobile equivalent. However, there are specific approaches to consider for a mobile intranet too.
In this post, we’re going to explore seven secrets for a successful mobile intranet implementation and launch.
1 Focus on the right features for a frontline or mobile workforce
Intranets have multiple purposes and support a wide variety of organisational processes. Mature platforms and integrations mean there has been a blurring between intranets, digital workplaces, collaboration platforms and employee experience platforms. Generally, a mobile intranet may feature slimmed down versions of the capabilities of a desktop intranet, although it might include similar access to all the content included.
When you select what to include on your mobile intranet, always ensure tools and content are suited to the needs of your frontline workforce, and capabilities that are useful for work on-the-go are featured. Previously, we looked at eight must-have features of a mobile intranet, all of which are relevant to frontline staff, including:
- Ability to remove barriers to access for all, including your frontline employees
- Strong news delivery
- Social collaboration and community tools
- Content and reference pages
- Employee directory
- Event calendar and registration
- Integrations that make sense for on-the-go employees or solve frontline use cases
- Easy administration and robust analytics.
2 Go for a mobile app over responsive design
SharePoint Online and in-a-box intranet software such as LiveTiles are now responsive, ensuring they are optimised for viewing through a mobile device. While this is good news for mobile intranets, it is rarely a good standalone approach. To drive adoption and value, you need to have a mobile intranet app that will:
- Deliver a controlled user experience for your intranet
- Make it easier to take advantage of the native features of a mobile device
- Allow for better governance, and meet security and compliance needs that won’t compromise your user experience.
Most intranet software will have its own dedicated mobile application, such as the SharePoint app. Intranets are increasingly being viewed through Microsoft Teams, and your Teams app could actually become your mobile intranet app too. A mobile intranet that is only delivered through responsive design is unlikely to get good adoption.
3 Make your mobile intranet available on personal devices to reach frontline staff
A major use case for a mobile intranet is to reach your frontline employees. In many companies, frontline employees do not have access to a desk, a corporate owned-device or even a digital identity. To make a mobile intranet work for this population, it must be available on personal devices, both Android and iOS. This is the only way to realistically achieve good adoption with this demographic; kiosks, shared terminals or home access will not work so well.
Some organisations get nervous about doing this due to security concerns, but also because they don’t want to intrude on employees’ time outside of work. In countries like the US where some sections of the workforce are “on the clock” employees, and Germany where workers’ councils are deeply involved in decision-making, there may need to be more careful consideration. However, there are many examples where a mobile intranet available on personal devices has proved valuable and popular with frontline employees, and has been highly successful in delivering organisational benefits.
4 Take advantage of native device features
Mobile devices have a range of native features that we are all accustomed to using when interacting with apps in our non-working lives. A mobile intranet app can take advantage of these features to boost effectivity, including push notifications, the ability to upload photos, voice detection and even GPS detection. In particular, push notifications can prove essential for important alerts, although they should be used sparingly. The ability to submit photos can also be useful for creating specific intranet apps focused either on engagement or transactional processes, such as reporting on-site issues that are best illustrated by a photo. Intranet chatbots also work well on a mobile device.
5 Focus on an easy onboarding and authentication experience
If you are launching a mobile intranet app, you must make it easy for users to load it onto their device and authenticate into it. If this process has numerous difficult steps to go through, it can be a barrier to adoption and a major headache for the intranet team.
For users of corporate mobile devices, this is usually in your control, and there will be a standard way to distribute apps. For employees adding an app to their personal device, it gets more complicated. Most intranet software providers will have convenient ways to do this – often through the Google Play or iOS app store – with a relatively straightforward way to authorise and authenticate the device and person. When launching your mobile app, make sure this process is as smooth and simple as possible.
6 Always get compliance and security teams involved early
Compliance and security constraints can scupper the success of a mobile intranet, negatively impacting the user experience. For example, if a mobile intranet requires VPN access, or a user has to type in a long password each time they enter the intranet, it is going to be difficult to drive adoption. Mobile intranets and apps can make compliance teams and senior executives nervous, particularly when they are accessible on a personal device.
Security, regulatory and compliance needs must be met, and can impact what is on your intranet. By engaging early with compliance and security teams, you can usually achieve the best possible experience for your mobile intranet.
There is actually a lot of middle ground that can allow you to deliver an excellent mobile intranet experience that meets all your regulatory and security requirements with very little compromise on the UX. This is often achieved by removing a small amount of content or a particular feature from your mobile intranet that is difficult from a compliance point of view, leaving the other 95% of your intranet still delivering value. Ensuring MDM approaches and app governance is in place and adding the right Terms & Conditions when employees sign-up can also make a big difference here, ticking the boxes for legal and compliance functions.
7 Consider content and links in the mobile experience
Even if you have a beautiful, responsive mobile app or an adaptive design, the success of your mobile intranet is dependent on having the right content. Most intranet content is not designed to be read on a mobile, resulting in long text and endless scrolling, or the use of imagery which is hard to view or read on a mobile. (There are lots of issues with posting images featuring text on your intranet – don’t do it!)
It’s not always easy to achieve, but make sure to consider content from the mobile point of view. Generally, taking a mobile-first approach to content – for example, with more concise text broken up into shorter areas with indicative subject headings – is actually good for the desktop view too. If you have a policy, for example, a clear, short summary with the salient points will be welcomed both by your mobile intranet users and those with desktop access.
Most intranets now act as a convenient gateway to the wider digital workplace. Providing links to other systems is very useful, but you may need to provide a different view on the mobile intranet as you might need to link to different apps or not link to systems that are unavailable or not optimised for mobile devices.
Making your intranet mobile
Making your intranet mobile is essential, particularly if you have a frontline workforce. Use these tips for a successful implementation. If you want to discuss your mobile intranet, why not get in touch!