man working on laptop in front of a blackboard
Employee's tolerance for out of date, clunky legacy systems is reaching an all time low PHOTO: jose aljovin

At some point in my career I reached an inflection point, when the technology I used at home surpassed the technology I used at work. 

I don't know exactly when it happened. When I started working, the only place I had access to a computer was at the office (probably giving my age away there). Offices were where technology lived then. 

But with the rapid and explosive growth of personal computers and mobile technology, we now all walk around with more computing power in our pockets than we could have possibly imagined 20 years ago.

Digging Through Information Silos

Yet many companies still saddle employees with legacy systems that have changed little over the years and are anything but intuitive and engaging. Most systems just replicate previous paper processes in a digital way. 

Which brings us to intranets. By a simple extrapolation of its name, we would expect an intranet to be an internal version of the internet:

  • An easy to use way of access information located in multiple sources
  • An easy way to find information
  • An easy way to communicate, share and collaborate with colleagues, be they in the next cube, or across the other side of the world

Unfortunately, this rarely happens. 

Most companies have information siloed in different systems based around functional processes. For the employee it is a question of knowing which of the multiple systems possibly holds a particular piece of information before they can start to look for it. 

These siloed systems frequently require different logins and passwords, making a routine task even more complex. These sort of systems tend to be based on older platforms with outdated and inconsistent user interfaces.

Employee's Disappearing Patience for Poor User Experiences

The most common way to try and address these sort of problems is to put a portal in place with a single sign-on. This common interface provides employee news, information and some basic search capabilities. Sounds great in theory, right? 

However most portals still require knowledge of the underlying systems and locations of data in order to get work done.

Consumer technology has continued to outpace the changes in most business applications, especially internal ones. The ongoing improvements in consumer technology have caused a behavior change. We now have higher expectations of our interactions with technology and information.

We no longer tolerate poor user experiences. We expect our interactions with the digital world to be intuitive, engaging, provide value and deliver the right content quickly, easily and consistently across the various channels we use.

Treat Employees as You Would Your Customers

People’s behavior and expectations don’t change when they walk into the office — they look for the same digital experience as an employee as they do as consumers.

So why not consider your employees as your most important customers?

They already are customers of other companies, so they should be yours, too.

If you are planning on using the latest in web content management, digital asset management, customer communications, social relationship management, search, analytics, and even artificial intelligence to deliver compelling experiences for your customers, why not do the same for your employees? 

Treat your internal customers like your external customers and deliver the same digital experiences. The result will be better engaged, more productive and brand loyal employees.