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Why an Integrated Intranet Approach is Critical in the COVID-19 Era
By Meredith Rodkey, VP of Product Management, Brightspot

Today's business environment looks vastly different than it did at the onset of 2020. Most notably, many - if not all - organizations now employ teams working outside of corporate walls. This has made the need for integrated tools and solutions to improve collaboration, like intranets, more important than ever.

In fact, 70 percent of businesses recently surveyed said that they feel their intranet is valuable or very valuable to employees. Even before COVID-19's impact on business this year, intranet systems were critical for organizations who operated via remote work. As millions of people around the world began working from home in response to shelter-in-place mandates, businesses who weren't prepared were hurrying to provide new resources and support to teams to help them carry on, business as usual, without disrupting critical tasks and processes.

In order to understand how their organizations can better structure their systems to serve teams at all levels no matter where or how they work, it's critical for businesses to know the benefits of an integrated intranet approach, and the tactics for creating an inclusive intranet environment.

Why Businesses Need an Integrated Intranet Approach

The onset of COVID-19 has put increased attention and awareness on intranets - before April, just 12% of respondents were neutral about their intranet's value while afterwards this increased to 23%,  indicating that more respondents found their intranets were not sufficient enough for remote work. One reason for this is the difference in requirements between IT teams and lines of business (LOB) that are leaving essential integrations out of intranets, which have become absolutely necessary in recent times. Most intranets often do not extend beyond standalone document repositories like SharePoint, which aren't integrated into other services employees rely on to get their jobs done. Slack, too, for example, is only integrated in 34 percent of intranets - a low number considering how heavily the system is relied on today as a primary source of communication over email.

When it comes to the internal technology infrastructure within most businesses, there is a clear gap in what IT teams prefer versus other teams. This often means that businesses are using tools that do not work well together - or worse, are not meant to work together at all. Nearly half of IT employees in the survey reported using SharePoint as their intranet, while less than 30 percent of LOB employees chose that response. This does not imply that LOB are not aware that their business uses SharePoint, but more likely that Sharepoint is not considered a valuable solution to address their business needs - and they therefore do not utilize it. Meanwhile, IT teams and other teams also disagree on which solutions an intranet should integrate with: 67 percent of IT teams said Slack is unimportant to integrate, for example, while more than half (52 percent) of other users said the opposite. These variations are a clear indicator that most businesses are not operating with a sufficient system that serves the needs of all levels of their organization.

Tactics for Creating an Inclusive Intranet Environment

As employees continue to seek engaging solutions to make working remotely a more simplified experience, the following tactics will be important to consider when developing inclusive intranet systems.

  • Deploy systems that integrate tools found useful for all levels: More than half of employees report that enabling team collaboration was a top priority in evaluating intranet systems. While IT departments may have a clear understanding of how the "back end" operates, it's critical that everyone within an organization can leverage an intranet system to do their jobs effectively. Personalization and integration are also critical factors here, making systems useful and impactful for every employee. For example, integrating time-keeping, vacation and payroll functionality should be considered in addition to solutions like Slack and Outlook.
  • Make the intranet serve your mission: Reduction in paper costs and time saved searching for company information accounts for more than half of what employees perceive as valuable from their intranets. While these are important factors, the responses also illustrate that most users are not leveraging other crucial intranet benefits, or that more critical benefits are not as obvious because they aren't being delivered. Reduced time spent on project management and the ability to better communicate across teams are just two examples of immediate benefits employees will notice and experience with a successful intranet.
  • Facilitate bi-directional communication: IT teams are often at the center of conversations related to intranet systems and solutions, but if those teams are not considering feedback from other lines of business, it can create a disconnect. Including other departments such as communications or HR will provide a clearer picture of the needs across every business level.

Intranet experiences will continue to vary across organizations, which reinforces the importance of businesses to remain agile and flexible as needs change. Especially as teams continue to work from home in light of COVID-19, creating an environment where IT teams, communications departments, HR and other LOBs can work in tandem is more important now than ever. This ultimately allows for businesses to better operate in an uncertain environment, while also delivering results to customers.

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About the Author

Meredith Rodkey 

Meredith Rodkey is VP of Platform Product Management & Solutions at Brightspot. She has focused on product management for the past 10 years and is instrumental in building the company's flagship product, Brightspot Content Business Platform. Meredith is a seasoned technologist with expertise in online publishing and digital experiences. www.brightspot.com

Published Tuesday, August 11, 2020 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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