:: By Tim Eisenhauer, Axero ::
Back when the concept of the "intranet" was first introduced to the business world, many organizations were quick to be the first in their industries to make the shift toward what was commonly referred to as “the future of business.”
While simplistic and with minimal features, the first intranets still served a vital purpose: they provided a central place to get information about your company. Over time, however, the things that businesses value in a strong intranet changed dramatically.
Today’s intranet allows for constant change, and it’s becoming even more central to conducting daily business than in the past. The intranets of yesterday were self-limiting in many ways, and the sad fact of the matter is that they’re still being utilized by organizations throughout the world.
Many people that continue to use outdated intranet platforms don’t realize what they’re missing out on or don’t recognize what is holding back their work flow. Some employees, however, are fully aware of the issues they face, which can have a dramatically negative impact on morale and employee engagement.
Understanding why modern professionals don’t want to use an outdated intranet platform is the first step toward making a change for the better. Here are a few reasons why it’s time to switch things up.
Stale & Outdated Information
"The information I need to do my job is outdated."
In order for an intranet to perform at its peak, the information contained within it needs to be constantly updated. No one wants to waste time browsing through document after document of stale information. This is one of the biggest issues associated with using an outdated intranet platform.
Stale information is not only annoying to deal with, but the repercussions of taking it verbatim can often be severe. If logistical processes have changed, for example, following old protocols could prove disastrous. An intranet is simply not functional these days if it makes updating information difficult in any way.
Poor Search Functionality & Impossible Navigation
"I can't find the information I need to do my job."
Every employee who is part of your intranet needs the ability to find exactly what they need at a moment’s notice, which is one of the biggest issues associated with using an outdated intranet platform. Finding crucial information buried deep within the intranets of yesterday was extremely difficult, and no one wants to return to this period of time. Searching for documents, user guides, conversations and more should take seconds, not hours. For businesses that are still using outdated platforms, this continues to be a huge problem that wastes countless hours each month.
The user interface (UI) of your intranet is one of the most important features to take into consideration when making a decision about which platform to go with. Old intranet platforms, however, are great examples of what not to look for in terms of UI. Outdated intranets can be extremely difficult to navigate, and for those who aren’t technologically proficient, they can be next to impossible to use. Difficult navigation not only gets in the way, but often brings projects to a complete standstill.
A Lack of Branding Capabilities
"Our intranet doesn't even have our company logo. It has the vendors logo."
Your company’s intranet should always be viewed as a virtual expansion of its culture. Branding serves a huge role in this regard, and anyone who has ever built out a physical office knows just how important it is that the space reflects an organization’s image. This is not only important for when clients and customers visit, but it can have a hugely positive impact on employee engagement. Incorporating your organization’s brand into your intranet is extremely difficult when using outdated platforms as the options you have at your disposal are typically few. With new intranet software, however, your branding is front and center.
Frustrating or Nonexistent Communication Tools
"I can't reach out to people in my company who have the knowledge to help me do my job."
One of the major benefits of switching to a social intranet that embodies today’s design philosophies is that they typically feature robust communication tools. Group and private messaging, forums, comments, blogging and chat are all effective ways to communicate with colleagues, but they’re more likely to be found in modern intranets than those of the past. It's likely that you're still using email to communicate with other employees in your organization. How often do emails get buried? Are you sure that the attached document is the most up-to-date version? Outdated intranet software is that it makes communication inherently difficult, and saving conversations for future retrieval is often not even an option. For businesses that rely on heavy communication, this can be enough to cause the ship to sink.
Low-Quality Document Management
"My intranet is a document dumping ground, where documents go to die."
Managing documents in an effective manner is nothing short of a necessity for businesses that are looking to get ahead in today’s world, but it also happens to be one of the trickier parts of the day for many employees. Outdated intranet software usually comes with a document management system, but they tend to be more like “document dumping” vehicles than anything else. Sure, you can add documents to the community, but organizing them, ranking them, sharing them, finding them or commenting on them in any forward-thinking manner is usually not an option. Once a knowledge base of your documents grows large enough, this can make finding what one needs a daily problem.
Poor Content Publishing & Sharing
"I have to reach out to my IT department to publish on our intranet."
Content marketing is the name of the game these days, and businesses small and large are starting to do their part to stay on top and become experts in their own respective fields. Content creation should be made as easy as possible if you want to get the most out of your staff’s abilities. Because the content creation platforms associated with outdated intranets tend to be extremely basic (or, to that point, nonexistent), companies that are stuck in the past will surely fall behind as their competitors move forward.
Inability to Segment the Community
"Our intranet is too crowded."
When you have a number of different teams or departments working within a social community, the chances that confusion may come into play are quite high. This is especially true as organizations grow in size, as the more people who are utilizing a social intranet, the more crowded it can become. Modern intranets allow for specific spaces to be created, which can be used to segment the community and prevent an overlap of information from occurring. Many older intranet platforms simply do not come equipped with such a feature.
No Room for Fun
"Our intranet is down-right boring."
Anyone who has found success in business can likely attest to the notion that a workforce is almost always more productive when there’s an element of fun involved. After all, it’s important to break up whatever monotony the day may bring along in order to keep attention spans high and morale from falling. Today’s intranets serve as excellent platforms for incorporating fun into the mix, unlike those which are antiquated and don’t allow for very much at all in the way of customization.
"Our intranet is so old that we can't even upgrade it to the latest version."
As the concept of the social intranet is always in flux, it should stand to reason that today’s platforms need to come along with consistent updates that require little-to-no work on the part of the user. Many older intranet platforms don’t take advantage of updates nearly in the same way as today’s options, which are able to adapt to whatever changes the industry sees and what the company needs to be successful. With this in mind, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to constantly buy new software once you make the switch to a modern intranet.
Tim Eisenhauer is a co-founder and president of Axero, maker of Communifire, a widely popular social business platform used for implementing social intranets, collaboration spaces and social knowledge management.