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Pity the modern intranet. It's hard to define, underappreciated, suffers from an identity crisis and is often regarded as a source of frustration. It may even have grown too big to fail

But the death of the intranet has been greatly exaggerated. They still hold a place in the enterprise, where they can drive employee communication and collaboration, facilitate document sharing and aid productivity, according to a bevy of CMSWire authors this year.  Here's a look at the 10 most popular intranet related stories of the year. 

Dig In

According to a survey commissioned by Appirio and conducted by the International Association for Human Resource Information Management (IHRIM), employee portals or intranets are widely deployed but are little more than a virtual file cabinet or a glorified home page. The survey, released this fall, found:

  • 85 percent of companies have an intranet or employee portal of some kind and 75 percent say it’s important or mission-critical
  • While more than two thirds of respondents state their portal has reduced the administrative burden on HR, only 39 percent say it is driving employee engagement
  • Less than 25 percent of respondents’ portals are integrated with social platforms and only 11 percent are optimized for mobile access. However, those who do offer mobile or social capabilities saw more than twice as much engagement (77 percent versus 33 percent).

What can companies do to transform their intranets? Here are some suggestions from our top stories of the year.

1) Chris Wright (@scribbleagency) offered 3 Steps to a Great SharePoint Intranet — a topic that was hugely popular with our readers.

SharePoint is possibly the best tool for the job on the market. Yet you wouldn't believe the number of poor, deserted, or frankly unusable SharePoint Intranets I’ve seen over the years. How to build a good one? Well that would take a very long article indeed, but here are my three tips to set you on the right path."

2) David Roe (@druadh20) validated what a lot of readers apparently believed in a post that explained Nielsen Announces Choices For 10 Best Designed Intranets 2013, 70% Built on SharePoint.

For those who thought intranets were a bit passe, it seems that social features and information filtering are creating considerable appeal, particularly among large companies where the size of intranet teams has doubled."

3) Oscar Berg (@oscarberg) explained 6 Things to Expect from Your Intranet, including improved workplace awareness.

Being a knowledge worker, I myself have quite high expectations on my digital work environment and the tools I need to have to get my work done. If an intranet is to become the centerpiece of my digital workplace, it should — at the very least — help me do the following six things really well."

4) Gia Lyons (@gialyons) looked at How Social Intranets Cultivate High Performers in a story that examined the problems of disconnected workplace tools.

Learning Opportunities

To address obstacles to high performance, including a lack of collaboration and ability to share, you need the power of social business. Keep in mind, social doesn’t mean a stack of software tools. Instead, it is a way of doing business that offers a seamless flow of information, context and activity across different applications and business activities."

5) Tom Petrocelli (@tompetrocelli) posed the question Are Intranets Becoming Irrelevant? — and noted that like all websites "they’re meant to hand out information like a Pez dispensers."

It’s not that intranets aren't useful; it’s just that they’re obsolete. They are like Windows XP — lots of people still use them, they can do a lot of useful things, but better technology has supplanted it. In this case, the intranet is heading toward extinction because of enterprise social networks and other social collaboration software."

6) Rich Blank (@getrichieb) asked How Do You Define a Modern Intranet? — and concluded "It's Simple."

A modern intranet is a smart and integrated system with an intuitive user experience that focuses on three high level things your employees care about most." 

7) Sharon O'Dea (@sharonodea) explained Social Intranets Deliver Employee Engagement and Strategic Advantage.

Social intranets enable peer-to-peer as well as top-down recognition, often making this as simple as clicking a 'like' button or tagging a colleague in a status update — helping to reinforce positive behaviors within the organization and recognizing work well done."

8) Kirsten Kelley (LinkedIn) told us the 5 Steps to a Strategic Intranet.

As a growing number of multi-tasking millennials enter the workplace, companies are reevaluating their digital strategies and find themselves asking an important question: how can we create an engaging work environment for our employees?"

9) Toby Ward (@tobyward) dug into The Social Enterprise: The Truly Social Intranet.

In a truly social enterprise, social requires more than just a Facebook page and Twitter account; you need to live and breathe social, inside and out. Anyone can Tweet, but creating a truly social intranet requires incredible commitment, change management and intelligent execution."

10) Jed Cawthorne (@jedpc) asked What's Next for the Enterprise Portal?

The enterprise intranet portal didn’t really live up to the hype, even in the good old days as intranets slowing progressed from internal web publishing platforms, to more integrated and collaboration focused platforms. So what chance do we have of getting them to work properly for us now, as we move into the brave new world, where the Intranet is just one part of the Digital Workplace?"