Why Intranets Need to Be Intelligent

5 minute read
Nigel Danson avatar

As intranets become more collaborative and intranet products allow increasingly more decentralization of content management, they grow in size at a rapid rate.It is then more and more imperative that the content on the intranet is a) easy to find and b) pushed to the relevant person.

Increasing the relevance of content saves time and improves the valueand user experience. This tailored interaction creates a more positiveintranet experience.

How do People use Intranets?

People go to their intranet for a reason.These reasons can be broadly split into three areas:

A business need (85 percent of all visits to intranets are for this reason*). This need is dependent on the role of the user and can be anything from a business process to a policy document.This is a PULL to the intranet where users go in search of a process or document.

      To collaborate. If the correct governance is in place and people see the intranet as an outlet for ideas and shared thoughts then they will come to the intranet to post ideas, start discussions and interact with colleagues.

      To catch up with company announcements and see what is new. What is clear is that pull information (a business need) brings people to an intranet.So the push information needs to be relevant to people. The push information that exists on most intranet homepages isn’t relevant to everyone. It tends to be very generic company announcements.

From research that I have done, the intranet becomes more sticky if this push information is relevant to the intranet user.People will have more reason to come back to the intranet if it is relevant.

Content on the Web is Pushed to You Based on Your Needs

Take a look at successful information sites on the web and they all have some form of intelligence.They all try to ensure that relevant content is delivered to the correct people.

Google search is probably one of the best ways of demonstrating this.When you search for something on Google you find information that is relevant to you.Google searches are based on previous searches and content that you have clicked.If you search for Thai Restaurants and often click on a favorite restaurant then that restaurant will appear higher in the rankings.

Amazon also pushes content based on previous searches and purchases -- it knows what you are interested in and then promotes that content. So if you buy a new camera then it may suggest a memory card or flash for that camera.

Some of the Most Important Content on Your Intranet can get Missed

Having a great search on the intranet is perfect if somebody knows what they are looking for.This pull information is a critical part of any intranet and the navigation and search are crucial in finding this information.

What about the other types of content that exist on the intranet though?Content that you may not know about such as:

  • Departmental announcements
  • Shared ideas
  • Best practice
  • New initiatives
  • Product line changes
  • Competitive analysis

These are just a few examples of content that gets added into an intranet and can easily get lost.Few people will go looking for a new idea or product that they didn’t know about. Connecting this content to a user has a dramatic impact on how successful and sticky your intranet will become.This information needs to get pushed to the correct people.

Learning Opportunities

Connecting relevant content to people is critically important in encouraging collaboration on your intranet.People are much more likely to comment on content, share ideas and join a discussion if it is relevant to them.If this relevant content can be pushed to them and doesn’t get lost with irrelevant content then it will be more likely to promote collaboration.

How do Intranet Managers & Intranet Champions get the Correct Information to the Correct People?

An intranet homepage is probably one of the most difficult areas of content to design successfully.This is because an intranet is a very different tool for different people.As an intranet manager how do you know what the individual needs of everyone in your organization are?

Traditionally most intranet managers do one of the following two things:

  1. Try and construct a homepage that has the same content for everyone -- this is not likely to succeed.
  2. Try and construct multiple homepages based on permissions with some shared content.

This can work but it is time consuming and how do you split the people in your company? By geographic location? By job role?What happens if somebody in the same job role uses the intranet in different ways -- searches for information that the other person doesn’t?


An Intranet is the Perfect Place to Make Content More Intelligent

Most people login to their intranet.This puts intranets in a very unique position as they know who is looking at them.They can know a lot more then your geographic location, interest groups or position within the company. Ideally, in the future each person will see a homepage and content that is relevant to them, based on their interactions with the intranet.

* from a recent survey of 100 intranets using Interact Intranet

Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading this article:

-- If Your Intranet Offers the Right Value, Your Employees Will Use It

About the author

Nigel Danson

Nigel Danson PhD is CEO and founder of Interact. He founded Interact with the aim of developing a simple enterprise collaboration solution that connects people to people, and people to content.