Intranets once had the market cornered for workplace communications and collaboration.
But the advent of the digital workplace with its broader capabilities has begged the question where the intranet, and more specifically, the intranet home page fits in this ecosystem.
Traditionally, intranet home pages were made up of 80 percent news with some navigation (including the dreaded ‘quick links’) squeezed into the margins. Fast forward to today, and intranet home pages do much more, mirroring the evolution of intranets themselves.
The concept of the digital workplace is broader still. It brings together all the applications, platforms and environments that support the day-to-day work of staff. This big-picture vision is driving new engagement at senior management levels and a greater pace of change.
Intranets will always remain a part of the digital workplace — as a home for content, if nothing else — but its specific role remains in question.
The short answer is this: modern intranet home pages must provide strong enterprise front doors for the wider digital workplace.
Increased Functionality Doesn't Mean Increased Usability
Modern intranets encompass social and collaboration tools, forms, workflows, dashboards and much more. Recently-updated home pages reflect this, surfacing activity streams and providing a jumping off point to tasks and applications.
Digital workplaces bring into this picture new mobile functionality, redesigned enterprise systems, personal productivity tools and a host of cloud-based products.
Greater functionality and new applications unfortunately does not lead to simplicity and usability. We’ve all struggled with a mishmash of enterprise tools, and the digital workplace could easily make this complexity and confusion even greater.
Enter the concept of the enterprise front door. Regardless of what (and how much) is delivered by the digital workplace, staff still need a single entry point which leads to everything else on offer.
Unless some radically new technology comes along, the intranet homepage is best placed to become the enterprise front door. It already surfaces news from across the organization and offers navigation to a vast repository of content. In the era of the digital workplace it can do much more.
A great intranet homepage can deliver many benefits for the digital workplace, including simplicity, identity, relevancy and more.
How the Intranet Homepage Supports the Broader Digital Workplace
Simplicity and Usability
Using your intranet homepage as the first point of entry brings simplicity and usability to the digital workplace. Employees have a single access point to the broader tools available, avoiding the confusion caused when competing applications and platforms race to load first at the start of the day. It also forces your business to make decisions about what to surface, and how to present it clearly and useably.
For example, multiple file sharing applications may be in use across the wider digital workplace. Some teams use Salesforce, others Dropbox, with OneDrive being rolled out alongside.
Your intranet homepage can cut through this complexity, with one box labelled “My recent documents” that draws files from all three platforms. A single click takes the user to the right file, in the right platform, without further thought.
Identity and Engagement
The intranet homepage also offers identity and engagement. Work is not just about accessing files and using applications, and staff don’t leave their emotions at the front door. Multiple studies have shown that higher staff engagement leads to greater productivity, less sick days and lower staff turnover.
The intranet homepage can help bring the organization together, with strong branding and a clear digital identity. The design and layout of the homepage can then provide a style guide for other digital workplace solutions to follow.
The homepage can also surface "good news stories" — details on strategic projects and material that supports major organizational changes.
The intranet can provide relevance via customization and personalization. In any large or global organization, staff wants the news, tools and information that’s relevant to them. This will always consist of a mix of global (corporate) and local sources.
The intranet homepage, as the enterprise front door, can use its knowledge about the user to tailor what’s delivered, in an elegant and seamless way. Staff can also be given the tools to further refine what’s provided.
Utility and Productivity
Finally, intranet home pages can provide greater utility and productivity for staff.
The homepage can surface key information from applications and put functionality at the staff's fingertips. This is a new role for many intranet home pages, going beyond just pushing information, to offering functionality right within the page itself. Features such as this become increasingly important as the digital workplace grows (and potential complexity grows with it).
Rather than being left behind, the intranet homepage will become a central element of the digital workplace. As the enterprise front door, modern intranet home pages will become elegant and streamlined solutions that make digital workplaces better and more productive.