Workplaces are no longer physical spaces occupied by employees. Organizations now are advancing towards ‘Digital Workplaces’ – this allows employees to connect more easily to each other across vast geographic locations, something that allows them to work remotely. ‘Digital Workplace’ means providing digital access to all information and converting all business process to digital.
One of the key components of a Digital Workspace are Intranets. From being mere document sharing sites and bulletin boards, intranets are now becoming portals to find all critical company data, for engaging with colleagues, expressing opinions, giving feedbacks, and much more. Organizations are looking at leveraging Intranets at the core of their Digital Workspace initiative and are expecting intranets to yield a slew of employee engagement benefits.
Based on my experience in building Intranets and following many surveys online, I have outlined certain Intranet trends that will pick up pace this year and will amp up the return on investments too.
Anytime, Anywhere Access
In the 21st century, most of our workforce is made up of the younger generation, which is really technology savvy. Always on the go, traveling far away in different geographic locations for work, using smart phones and tablets, and literally working round the clock. Organizations understand that their workforce is giving them a 100% and hence, they now need to provide the necessary tools that their employees need to get the jobs done. The intranet is playing a paramount role to meet this requirement. Building an Intranet that provides all the necessary information and application to the workforce; is accessible anytime, anywhere and from any device, is very important to organizations.
Most of the existing intranets in the past have been one-way static sites, resulting in low engagement levels. Within the past decade, organizations have seen how quickly platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Yammer have allowed users to communicate faster and better between two people. A socially engaging portal is what the modern intranet is all about. Social features enable real-time conversations, encouraging new dialogues and conversations throughout the organization. With features like reviews, comments, likes, shares, etc. being associated with most of the content, employees have greater than ever chances to voice their opinions. We will foresee the intranet developers coming up with enhancements to the existing social features and leveraging them to make a meaningfully engaged workplace.
In the past decade, enterprises have seen collaboration move from paper-based collaboration to cloud-based solutions. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook are working hard to come up with innovative ways to help employees collaborate better within and outside the organization. Microsoft is the front runner in this space with their cloud-based Office 365 and Azure platforms. The Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint platforms have been and will be at core of most organizational collaboration strategies. Over the past 5 years, we have seen organizations begin to accept or start building their strategies to move to the cloud solutions. We expect to see hybrid environments being setup for the next 10 years. This allows organizations to slowly feel the cloud platform and verify if it provides all the features and security they need before they fully convert to the cloud.
Intranets are moving towards a more user-centric and personalized focus. Intranets are getting simplified not only for the users but also for the intranet admins. Personal dashboards, user directories having photographs, customizable profiles, personalized news feed, etc. are being worked on intranets to provide personalized experiences.
We have all been hearing about how Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing. This technology will completely change how we work again. From looking at our work patterns to proactively automating tasks or providing information, this will make our lives and work much easier. Using Artificial Intelligence solutions like LUIS from Microsoft, we expect to see Chatbot Solutions being part of every intranet that will be every employee’s personal assistant. Think Clippy from Office 97. 🙂
Every organization nowadays has multiple business critical applications that they run to get their jobs done. However, these are still on many completely different platforms that do not talk to each other. This causes employees to have to go to many different applications/ environments to get their jobs done. It is very important to get these applications to integrate properly with each other so that organizations can provide a more efficient work environment for the employees and increase their productivity.
Creative yet Simplified UI / UX
Websites have come a long way since static HTML pages. Modern design concepts like Unique and Large Typography, Large and Responsive Hero Images, Semi-Flat design, Hamburger menus, Responsive Mobile Friendly Designs, etc. are very important for user adoption and engagement. Intranet websites’ designs take these important concepts into considerations and build rich, employee engaging web sites.
If companies want to improve engagement and collaboration, they will have to focus on the intranets and digital workplaces. Let me know if you agree with me, or foresee some other trends shaping up the intranet world this year. Comment below. I will love to hear you out!