Social Business, How Do You Define a Modern Intranet? It's Simple
It's possible to dress up intranets with a lot of bells and whistles, but at the end of the day an intranet should do three high level things and do them well.

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:
  1. News and information -- The official corporate and onboarding stuff from HR, Executives, Corp Communications
  2. Finding stuff -- i.e., people, experts, information, knowledge and ideas that help people do their job
  3. Getting work done -- You know, the "project" and "process" type stuff that actually drives your business, builds product or services your customers.

The Modern Intranet is an Integrated 'Hub'

It's really that simple.I'm sure some will have their own view of things and add all kinds of complexity.Sure, you can throw in all kinds of buzzwords like crowdsourcing, talent management and operational efficiency.Yet a modern intranet needs to be ONE system that addresses all three things in an integrated, engaging and convenient (aka mobile), user friendly experience. It’s one system that actually delivers on the vision and promise of becoming a true hub for global communication and collaboration within the enterprise.

I Want That 'Easy Button' on Everything!!!!

I don't know about you, but I want that "easy button" placed all over my modern intranet, on every page, every UI and every device.It's not because I'm lazy, it's simply because the fast pace of business today has accelerated and the scale of information both inside and outside the enterprise has grown exponentially insane. When you think about that in terms of your intranet and what it represents to your organization, you begin to view the modern mobile intranet as a:

  • Reflection of organizational culture
  • Representation of the corporate brand
  • Way to build community and connect people
  • Digital representation of people and their reputation within the organization
  • Way to align and engage a distributed workforce and service customers
  • Hub for both communication and collaboration
  • Central place where work gets done

While I could on and on about all the wonderments and attributes of a mobile modern intranet, it’s better to address the things I don't want in an intranet followed by the stuff that I do want.So here goes …

I Don't Want …

  • My intranet to be a "dumb directory" where people constantly dig and inefficiently hunt for information.
  • An intranet that is disconnected to the various other systems I need to get my work done. No, I don’t want another system alongside the wiki tool over there, the SharePoint document library over here, a dropbox folder, email, a web meeting and IMs all over the place.
  • To fill out a stupid form to submit a document into a document library with all kinds of "structured metadata nonsense" and with nested folder structures.
  • One place where I have to find an expert and another place I search for information.
  • An intranet that I can’t access on my mobile device.
  • A tool that only allow me to microblog at work in 140 characters or less.
  • "Facebook for the enterprise" with single activity stream full of more noise than most people's email inbox.
  • That good ole' corporate intranet home page with all kinds of web parts neatly placed on a web page with sanitized information that someone else thinks I should know.Sorry, I'm just going to change my home page to something else anyway.

I Do Want To …

  • Connect, contribute, share and learn from my colleagues anywhere from any device.
  • Watch video blogs and get work done on my phone or tablet.
  • Filter out the noise and subscribe to what matters most -- the people, places and content that are MOST relevant to me and the job I am hired to do.
  • ASK A QUESTION so I can get an answer to help a customer as quickly as possible.
  • Search results to be personalized to ME and find people, places and content that are most relevant to ME!
  • Receive smart recommendations so I discover things I didn't know before.
  • Easily target my communication to specific groups of people without emailing them.
  • Track activity, actions, decisions and understand the CONTEXT of the work that was done later when I search for it.
  • Have the system track the reach and sentiment of the messages I'm communicating.
  • Relate content I create or consume or act on to KPIs and show my executives dashboards so they can see the effectiveness of strategic initiatives.

The Best UX Is Driven by People and Their Network

Users want a simple, easy, frictionless, personalized, and intuitive experience.That's right…I want EASY because we're all so busy!The friction and ugliness of legacy intranets have proven no longer effective means for communicating and collaborating.Users don't care about all wonders of a feature rich platform unless it actually adds value and utility to their day-to-day jobs and helps them create, innovate, market, sell, and service customers. Businesses are complex and change too rapidly for information to be communicated and delivered by pre-determined little parts on a web page or disconnected Facebook-like micro-blogging tools. The best user experience is one that is driven by people and their network within the organization.

Adoption Shouldn't Be That Hard

When it comes to adoption, no, you really don’t have to work all that hard getting people to use your intranet EVERYDAY if the intranet is actually a place to get work done.So you might also think about shutting off some of those legacy tools otherwise you’re giving users an excuse not to change.Additionally, you can minimize disruption by letting users work in some of the tools they want to work in.Focus on bringing this modern intranet into those tools users are already familiar with as well as bringing those tools into the intranet experience.Don’t make people go somewhere else and login to yet another system. Yes, you need executive buy-in and executives to set the tone for the rest of the organization.And that's why you need to focus on measuring value and identifying successes.You need to create a "positive cycle of measurable success" that you can publicize more than just usage or general activity type metrics.

It’s Time to Re-platform

There you have it.And by the way, I didn’t once mention the word “social.”

OK, I said it ... the modern intranet is indeed social.If you don’t believe me, then read this book and it will help see the light and begin to build your business case:“Transform: How Leading Companies Are Winning with Disruptive Social Technology.” The business world is not slowing down.The pace of change is accelerating and exceeding our capacity to learn.And the volume of information everywhere continues to grow and existing tools like that dusty old intranet aren't cutting it.

Learning Opportunities

Your intranet is the glue, the portal, the window, the lens into your organization, the hub, the pulse, the brain, the one system that connects everyone to everything and enables everyone everywhere.It’s time to re-platform and transform your intranet into a modern intelligent one enabled by the cloud, mobile and social. It’s time to focus on people and generating big data that can be leveraged to drive productivity and efficiencies.

So what are you waiting for?

Title image courtesy of AdStock RF (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more by Rich in Social Overload? It's Time to Get Back to Basics