Smileguide and webinar 15: Building a modern intranet


It would be easy to think that intranets were a bit passé as the comms world becomes obsessed with ESNs, the latest employee apps and the digital workplace revolution. But nothing could be farther from the truth. In our latest smileguide we explain why your intranet is one of the must-have business tools and deserves your attention now more than ever.


View the recording of the webinar 

The problem with intranets is that too many of them are neglected and underused and have failed to keep up with modern workplace culture. And the fact that 75% of company intranets are on SharePoint, but more than 50% of these are described by Gartner as ‘stalled, struggling or abandoned,’ only adds to the problem. This smileguide will inspire you to put your intranet at the top of your ‘to-do’ list, secure in the knowledge that a well-planned and well thought-through digital space can transform the way your people get work done, enhance the way they interact with each other and deliver tangible business value.

Throughout the smileguide we help you make sense of the bewildering developments in the technologies that underpin the new generation of intranets and help you feel confident in having the right conversations to ensure you end up with an intranet you’ll love.

Understanding the problem

Older intranets were essentially internal websites, publishing official content for others to consume. All sorts of documents and information could be stored easily but all too often it became a dumping ground where information was stored and ignored, largely because search facilities were poor and information out of date. Without giving IT departments too bad a rap, the fact that most intranets were managed by IT and not by comms just made things worse. Even if your intranet was generally good on document management, it was poor on social and poor on collaboration and this is where the ESNs have in some cases – Virgin Trains, for example – all but replaced intranets. But ESNs are not the complete answer. In practice we need intranets that combine the traditional content and knowledge management features with the newer social features that are part of most people’s everyday lives: activity streams, newsfeeds, great search facility, easy retrieval, content authoring, two way communication and pain- free procedures.

What’s a modern intranet?

We asked Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo, who sponsor this guide, what makes a modern intranet: “The first thing to note is that it is not a technology challenge,” he told us. “If you’re starting with technology you are starting in the wrong place. Your intranet is where your employees start their day so it must be
in context to the work that you do. Your intranet needs to be fully integrated with everyday workplace life to promote knowledge sharing, collaboration and employee engagement.

“A well-planned modern intranet connects employees to the people, processes and information they need to do their jobs well. When employees have quick and easy access to the information they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, a company becomes more productive, innovative and competitive.”

What about apps?

Apps succeed when they take the friction out of working, and the reason certain apps are booming is that they do a small part of what we need to do in our daily working lives extremely well . They are more focused than the tools available as part of huge one- stop- shop platform solutions like SharePoint and Office 365 which, while technologically brilliant, are typically not so popular with users. But of course, many organisations are dealing with legacy systems and, as different apps are adopted for certain aspects of work – a trend that is increasing – the issue becomes one of integration with core business tools and information systems. This is a big challenge for the industry.


When it comes to determining how to build a modern intranet, there are several routes to consider and this latest smileguide explains each option and brings them to life with case studies. Whether you opt for on-premises or cloud, there are plenty of really good alternatives to SharePoint despite it dominating the market for two decades. Cloud based technology is speeding things up and we have seen an increasing field of cloud-based SaaS solutions that are quick to deploy, need little or no IT intervention and offer great user experience. These are solutions like Igloo, Communifire, Jostle and Interact. Another popular route is to build a great UX on top of SharePoint or Microsoft Office 365 and create a consumer style interface that makes these incredibly powerful tools easy to use. Brightstarr’s Unily platform is a great example of this in action. Alternatively, you can bring all your favourite apps and tools together and make them accessible from a central command hub with solutions like Workato’s Workbot and MHub’s digital workplace app. These options are essentially enablers of other technologies and do away with constantly switching between applications to execute tasks and access business information.


In summary

Whichever route you choose – and there is not right or wrong solution – your modern intranet must be flexible enough to host a wide variety of business tools and applications giving employees simple and easy access to everything they need to get on with their work with little or no fuss. With new technology almost daily, it’s important not to get sidetracked by ‘comms bling’. Understanding what you are trying to achieve at the outset is crucial. Without a clear vision of how your workplace will behave differently, how it will communicate with itself and how work will actually get done, you are likely to fall for the hype and spin of every new technology and never achieve the adoption levels you desire.

Download the latest smileguide and learn from others who have already built a modern intranet.

Watch the free webinar featuring Dan Latendre from Igloo and Lee Bryant from Post*Shift