One of our 2020 predictions for the intranet and digital workplace is that “intranets outgrow the homepage”. We believe employees, particularly in knowledge organisations, will increasingly be able to access intranet content from whatever application they are in, driving a less fragmented digital workplace experience. In this article I’m going to explore this concept and describe how we are now seeing the rise of the “omnipresent” intranet.
The trouble with the intranet as a destination
The corporate intranet is an essential part of any digital workplace and is a key channel and a “destination” for news, communications, policies, task completion and social interaction. However, the intranet is not always the destination of choice unless an employee has a specific objective such as a task to complete or a piece of information to find. Employees rarely go there just to see “what’s going on”.
The applications dilemma for intranets
One of the problems for intranets in knowledge organisations is that employees spend most of their working day in applications. Some of these are ubiquitous for all of us – Word, Excel, Outlook and increasingly Teams –while others are specialist for a particular function or role such as Salesforce for Marketing or ServiceNow for IT support. Nobody spends most of their time working in the intranet apart from the intranet team.
A dilemma for intranet teams and internal communicators will be how to ensure that the intranet is worth visiting to justify that additional effort it takes to get there. While a user may make the effort because they are completing an uncommon task, they are less likely to visit to just read the latest news. How do you get a user to come out of Teams, ServiceNow or Salesforce and read the latest corporate messaging?
An omnipresent intranet in the flow of work
Imagine how convenient it would be then if there was an intranet that was truly omnipresent and could be accessed from whatever corner of the digital workplace a person was in. An intranet where you could view news and information or perform searches from within Teams, Salesforce or through the Windows 10 desktop? It reduces the effort to visit the intranet and therefore removes a barrier.
This represents a significant shift in thinking of how we deliver intranets and how users experience intranets; is the homepage the only way that a user should access intranet content? That’s not to say the homepage is not important – it will still be a primary way that users view news and communications and access search, especially if you have it set as the default browser homepage – but it doesn’t need to be the only way.
The direction of travel
The “omnipresent intranet” is in fact how is currently evolving – an intranet that can be accessed from within any application, not just from Office 365 suite or the Microsoft stack, but potentially any popular workplace application including Salesforce, Slack and Jira.
I agree with Wizdom’s CEO John Wainer, who recently wrote about the ethos behind the product:
“If intranets are there to help employees get things done and be more efficient, then why not allow intranet and its related content to be accessed from within the applications employees are already working in all day? This is clearly more helpful and efficient for the user than having to open up a new application.”
The idea of the omnipresent intranet also aligns to the current direction of travel of the Office 365 roadmap (where integrations are getting easier and easier) as well as Microsoft’s continuing investment in Teams.
One of the reasons Teams is so successful is that you can easily integrate other applications within it, viewing critical information and also completing simple transactions, sometimes with AI or the automation of Microsoft’s Power Platform working in the background, sometimes selecting from the out-of-the-box integrations available for popular applications. Here adoption of other applications both benefits enormously by being directly in the flow of work; for example, a Learning Management System
The power of the Power Panel
Wizdom’s execution of the omnipresent intranet is primarily through two experiences; allows the intranet to be viewed through Teams, while the Power Panel creates a personalised toolbar that can essentially be accessed from wherever an employee is in the digital workplace.
The Power Panel has proved popular with digital workplace teams who can configure it to include intranet content, links into applications, a set dashboard experience, the ability to drive simple transactions and potentially even a chatbot. It provides a simple, convenient, consistent and relevant gateway into the entire digital workplace that simultaneously drives efficiency, findability and supports internal communications for employees. It brings the intranet to where busy employees work rather than the other way around.
Intranets evolve for the better
The rise of an omnipresent intranet is an exciting development and a new step in the direction of the evolution in the intranet. Intranets have always evolved for the better to make them more relevant and useful, and I think we’re going to see more and more examples of intranet features and content being able to be accessed across the digital workplace. This will result in greater consistency and efficiency, and less fragmentation and frustration. If you’d like to discuss how you can start to create an omnipresent intranet then get in touch!