A woman sitting at a desk working on a laptop - modern intranet concept
PHOTO: Shutterstock

When the term “intranet” is muttered, what comes to mind? Chances are, it’s an antiquated, static homepage filled with links that date back to 1995. Unfortunately, intranets have been stuck with this reputation for about two decades now, since its inception. But the tides are shifting and exciting things are happening in the intranet industry. Analysts such as Forrester and Gartner have started to take notice in the shift of the intranet industry as it has become a key tool for employee experience.

This article will explain the legacy that traditional intranets left behind and how it propelled the shift to modern intranets. You’ll understand the major differences between traditional intranets and modern intranets and how the modern intranet is purpose-built to address the changing employee expectations.

90% of Intranets Fail!

Simpplr Research has done research to understand the key drivers of intranet failure, and they’ve found that 9 out of 10 intranets fail. To further reinforce this finding, Gartner recently reported “as many as 90% of intranets fail to achieve their initial goals.” This is not a surprise, given that traditional intranets are unsatisfactory to meet the needs of modern-day employees and are inflexible to accommodate today’s digital workplace. While there are many reasons intranets fail, it’s important to recognize that failure has to do with changing employee expectations and aging technology that no longer meets the needs of the modern workplace.

Related Article: 90% of Intranets Fail: 5 Reasons the Intranet Industry Needs a Change

Employee Expectations Demand New Approaches

Within the past decade, technology has been the primary agent of workplace change. The workforce has never been as distributed before, with enterprises having an average of 12.5 locations around the world. With remote employees in different locations, it’s even more critical that company announcements and knowledge documents are easily attainable and circulated within a single, trusted source. If information is hard to find, inaccessible, or outdated, employees end up making decisions based on inaccurate information that negatively impacts the organization’s bottom line. In addition, user expectations are influenced by their use of social networks, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, that make it extremely intuitive to use and addictive to users, based on their ability to suggest relevant content recommendations.

Employees Are Frustrated

Users have been frustrated with the lack of technological innovation around intranets that traditionally have fallen behind the rest of business software applications.In fact, Forrester ran a survey and found that intranets come dead last behind all other productivity tools in user satisfaction and its ability to help employees with their job. In order for employees to be engaged and to optimize their work performance, they need the right tool to help them find contextual and trusted information. Unfortunately, traditional intranets are an aging technology that frustrates employees and slows down the speed of business.

Related Article: 90% of Intranets Fail: 5 Reasons the Intranet Industry Needs a Change

Technical Debt Is Rampant

Because traditional intranets are generally highly customized and built on-premise, it becomes either extremely difficult or impossible to maintain, upgrade, or patch old versions of the platform. Forrester’s customers report that a top driver of their intranet renewal efforts is obsolete or out-of-support platform. On-premise platforms require heavy technical resources to maintain, and as a result, technical debt becomes rampant. We’re seeing a wave of enterprises moving away from older platforms that are on-premises, like SharePoint and other early generation collaboration suites, which are adapting to newer cloud applications specifically designed for intranet and internal communications. Modern, purpose-built intranets make it easy to keep the intranet up-to-date and are flexible to accommodate change management associated with the evolving workplace.

Modern Intranets Are Displacing Traditional Intranets

Fortunately, there is a solution to these challenges. Intranets have evolved well beyond the perception of outdated, platform approaches. While the traditional intranet was based on older content management technologies, such as Microsoft SharePoint, the modern intranet is a breed of its own. Both Forrester’s and Gartner’s recent reports make the argument that traditional intranets are dead (or dying) and companies need to rethink how they implement and use intranets.

Modern Intranets vs. Traditional Intranets

The modern intranet is purpose-built to serve as a key ingredient for achieving workplace goals such as employee communications and driving corporate culture. Gartner cites: “modern intranets go beyond destination sites into a collection of services that can be purposed out to many places, including business applications, mobile apps, collaboration apps, and other destination sites.”

When evaluating intranets, it’s important to understand the primary differences between modern intranets and traditional intranets. So, what are the major differences?

Modern intranets vs traditional intranets
PHOTO: CMSWire/Simpplr

Which Approach Is Right for You?

There is ample evidence that argues the traditional intranet approach is dying. We must challenge our organizations to rethink how intranets should work for all employees in our modern workforce. If we continue to accept the status quo, intranets will continue to fail, employees will continue to feel frustrated, and employee experience will suffer.

Download the Complimentary Forrester Report

To read Forrester’s full analysis, download the complimentary report: Your Intranet is Dead: Reboot Communication and Collaboration with Employees at the Center .