Rethink your intranet

While websites have travelled inside the organisation, from IT to communications and then onwards to marketing, intranets remain stuck between IT and communications at best; orphaned at worst.

Who cares about who owns the intranet you might ask? This really matters because it takes serious and engaged owners to push innovation and to tap into the tremendous business potential that intranets represent.

Don’t focus on the tool. Focus on the organisation

As a part of my job, I meet with organisations of all shapes and sizes. This includes local government, large and global organisations, from famous brands to little known NGOs. One thing they all have in common: complexity.

This week I once again met with an organisation that wants to upgrade their existing intranet. Unfortunately they focus too much on the underlying intranet platform and too little on how to realise the benefits in order to leverage full advantage from a new intranet.

With my background in technology, I truly understand the temptation to talk bits and bytes, and I have also learned why this is often easier internally than talking about important topics such as ownership, adoption and governance.
These topics are tough, but critical for most projects. Certainly, they apply to intranets.

Intranets enable your networked workforce

Today, intranets are often an important but grossly neglected and misunderstood internal communication platform. To be fair, there are a few exceptions to this and we’re fortunate to have some of them as J. Boye group members. You can also meet some of the intranet leaders at the Interaction Intranet Conference in London this October.

In my vision for a networked future, your intranet is quite different. Yes, you can find company news there, but rethinking this -to me – means that the intranet becomes a cornerstone for organisational learning, knowledge management, collaboration, and employee self-service. When you get to this point, your intranet is the heart that beats in your extended enterprise.

Rethinking means different concepts from today. A technology enabled, location independent and mobile friendly digital workplace. This does not require deep pockets, but getting there is no luxury cruise in the Caribbean.

A vision for the extended enterprise

Winston Churchill famously attached “Action This Day” stickers on his memos.

Change is best done in baby steps and a good place to start, today, is not to go out and procure more new technology. Instead, I recommend pilot projects with outsiders to your organisation as organisational learning. This is what I call the extended enterprise. Think about how you can tap into key individuals and groups not on your payroll. This could be customers, partners, citizens, patients, parents, and beyond. Pick one among your key target audience and then bring them inside your sacred digital halls.

By no longer defining intranets simply by who is working for the same organisation, you open up to new levels of innovation and you unlock lasting business value that will make your intranet unrecognisable compared to today.