As 2012 starts to draw to a close you may have started to see numerous debates appear online about what trends we are likely to see emerging in 2013 for intranets. At Interact we have had many discussions about what is likely to happen and with this in mind we have decided to share with you the top seven ‘deadly sins’ that can be committed on your intranet for the year ahead and how you might avoid them.

Sin 1: Suppressing your users’ social expectations

As we go into 2013 people using the intranet will naturally expect to be able to use the types of features and tools they use as second nature on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (etc!) in order to engage with colleagues and get work done more effectively – these expectations shouldn’t be suppressed.

Collaborative tools shouldn’t be kept separate or differentiated from the more transactional tools on your intranet. They must be available together so the best tool is used depending on the challenge. Therefore a social layer to your intranet will be essential going forward.

Around 18 months ago we introduced the ability to ‘Like’ content on Interact Intranet, which has offered a simple way for our customers to start introducing social tools into their organisations. ‘Liking’ content is intuitive for users and offers an easy way to share the usefulness of content with others. Also when someone ‘Likes’ something, it is instantly displayed on other users feeds so they then become aware of information they may not have seen before that can help them with their every day job.

At Interact, another way we encourage collaborative behaviour is through the use of an Influence Score, which encourages greater knowledge sharing behaviours and enhances the prominence of individuals within your business, irrespective of their job role.

Read the Whitepaper ‘Unlocking the benefits of enterprise collaboration’>>

Sin 2: Keeping access to your enterprise tools separate

People will be as busy as ever in 2013 and they will need all enterprise tools accessible in one place to save time searching for them. The intranet will increasingly meet this need. There will be a bigger push to the intranet to get work done to save time and we expect that directors, senior managers and business analysts will begin asking “Why aren’t we using the intranet for this?” for all business requirements. We will see a greater requirement for tools on the intranet such as Interact’s Workflow and Forms and Discussion Forums to carry out essential business tasks.

There are many benefits to be gained from centralising enterprise tools including streamlining business processes, full trackable forms and users increasingly sharing knowledge across a blend of traditional and collaborative tools.

Waterstones, a large UK and European retailer, use a blend of collaborative and transactional tools on their intranet for staff to carry out essential business tasks every day more efficiently. The transactional tools such as Workflow and Forms help to pull staff in both head office and stores to the intranet as they need to use them to carry out essential business tasks. They have solved over 9,000 procedural challenges such as health and safety and store ordering in 2012 through a host of intranet tools. This leads employees to become braver with the tools they use and starting to suggest ways these can solve other business challenges amongst their 4,000 employee community.

Sin 3: Restricting intranet access

We have seen an increase in demand from customers this year requiring remote access to their intranet and as we go into 2013 there will be a greater number of remote workers and people working outside of the office. Working, browsing, sharing and tweeting is no longer confined to a desktop PC and neither should an intranet; your users will expect to be able to do their work wherever they are. In 2013 we expect intranet access to become a key priority on multiple devices including mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

According to Litmus’ Email Analytics report, as of September 2012, 38 per cent of email was opened on a mobile device, compared to 33 per cent on a desktop client and 29 per cent for Web mail. Most of us have our emails synced to our phones and it is normal to expect them to be delivered to our phones in an optimised format. In 2013 an intranet shouldn’t just be available on your desktop computer but be accessible from anywhere, at anytime incorporating technologies like  ‘responsive design’, which renders the features of your site depending on the device you are using.

Sin 4: Not filtering out the noise

As collaboration increases the amount of content on your intranet will also increase and this will need to be filtered, to cut through the noise. It’s important therefore to ensure that the right information is pushed to the right people in order for them to get their work done so there will be a greater need for intranets to be intelligent and we expect intelligent analytics to play a big part.

In 2013 wouldn’t it be better if an intranet just understood what you were interested in and automatically delivered this content to you? It should look at your connections, interactions, intranet behaviour and profile data and from this information, construct a Profile DNA that is unique to each intranet user and then intelligently push relevant content to the user.

Personalising intranet homepages manually is horrendously time consuming, however an intelligent intranet picks up this workload ensuring it surfaces new, timely and relevant information to each user.

Intranet managers should be able to analyse how this content is used with tools like Interact Analytics to understand what is working and proving intranet ROI, which this is essential to the success of your intranet.

Sin 5: Lack of tools for community managers

As users become more comfortable with the blend of traditional and social tools on your intranet, they will want to be able to access and use them as they see fit to their business problems. Often these will be project specific and cross departmental, more people will want to create their own ‘communities’ – or areas of activity on the intranet that they can go to get their work done in 2013.

Community management will become a key part of an Intranet Manager’s role and they will want to be able to provide tools which actively tell users what they need to do and how they can grow their intranet and community.  This blog on Intranetizen talks about the basics of good community management.

Tools such as Interact Teams provides a perfect online space for groups of people in an organisation to come together and collaborate to get work done. Interact Answers provide the ability for everyone to ask a question directly on the intranet which then searches the entire intranet system to provide an answer and will point them to the relevant experts.

Sin 6: Restricting decentralised working

If 2012 was the year of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device, 2013 will be the year of CYOT – Choose Your Own Tool. We think users will need a decentralised way of working on the intranet. So, there should be no barriers when it comes to creating content areas, teams, forums or working areas on the intranet.

This so-called ‘consumerisation of software’ – where users take the control is already being seen in tools such as Basecamp, where you can easily set up your own projects. Not long ago only a few people were able to blog on an intranet but now people expect to have that right. Imagine if not everyone in your company was able to use the printer – sounds shocking doesn’t it? But only 15 years ago the ability to use it would have most likely been controlled by the office manager or HR department, now you choose by quickly and easily installing the driver, you are trusted because you are an employee; the same principle will be reflected on the 2013 intranet.

Sin 7: Not thinking about your users

There are two trends in the industry that are key to the development of intranets and how users engage with theirs which will come to a head in 2013:

  1. Users are getting more and more used to using excellent web tools such as Twitter and Facebook and they expect the same of enterprise tools.
  2. Meanwhile intranets are becoming more powerful with a richer feature set.

However not all Intranet Managers are harnessing their power – this article by Paul Miller talks about the intranet / website divide. Intranet managers that don’t accept this and don’t make relevant tools available will see small groups using these web tools such as Google Docs to get work done. The problem is these different web tools are then all used in isolation and all that knowledge across your enterprise is neither joined up or added to your intelligence store, it merely lingers outside the business’ conscious.

2013 will see more enterprise tools with a greater emphasis on usability. Getting work done on an intranet is paramount to its success and if collaborative tools are to be adopted, then the shift from website to intranet needs to be seamless for the user.

At Interact we are investing heavily in user experience to create a blend of tools that allow people to perform business processes, collaborate and communicate in one consistent and user friendly environment, which allows people to use the relevant tool and not worry about the technology behind it.

So, those are some of the key sins we believe might occur in 2013 on people’s intranets but hopefully having shared these with you, you can now take action to avoid them and continue to make your intranet a key part of your organisations success.

If you can think of any more sins to avoid with your intranet then please share them below.