In an era of seemingly ubiquitous connectivity, it’s difficult to imagine a time when the Internet was absent from the workplace. Even in the 1990s it was not uncommon for email systems to be closed for internal use, while the Intranet was the primary method of disseminating company news, information and documentation.
The logic behind Intranet systems was understandable. Intranets were intended to be a one-stop shop of company information that could by constantly updated, saving employees time and making them more productive.
But the Intranet has become unfashionable. Despite receiving new features over the years, they are increasingly viewed as yesterday’s technology, unsuitable for the era of Digital Transformation and those wishing to enable the connected workforce.
In the absence of a superior alternative, email has maintained its position as the standard communication tool. But now the tide is turning as demand for a richer, more dynamic form of communication.
The challenges of Intranet
Despite the advances above, Intranets suffer from poor user experience, low levels of employee engagement, and a haphazard approach to maintenance and development. These platforms are often plagued by poor design and lack of capabilities that result in Intranets becoming little more than sprawling repositories of outdated information.
Intranets often fail to take into account the needs of employees, who are becoming increasingly demanding thanks to the consumerisation of IT. They want to use the same technology at work as they do in their personal lives.
If a work tool lacks the intuition of consumer applications or requires employees to learn new skills, then they won’t use it. Some Intranet systems might not even be mobile-optimised – an unacceptable situation for many staff and a huge impediment to adoption.
A lack of employee interaction means Intranets cease to become useful and the desired productivity gains won’t be achieved. And if staff turn to unauthorised applications to share company information or files, the security risks are increased because these services are beyond the control of IT.
Exacerbating this issue is that many organisations underestimate or neglect the requirement to keep Intranets updated with new features and to fix bugs that might appear over time. Maintenance is expensive and time-consuming and can also prevent IT departments from driving innovation within an organisation.
The challenges of email
Email has not suffered such a rapid fall from grace, with its ease of use and client-side innovation granting it a stay of execution. But emails are a static form of communication that does not lend itself well to real-time conversations with multiple participants.
Employees are used to using instant mobile messaging services in which it is easy to conduct group conversations and add rich media content such as voice and video.
Social networking has also had an impact, popularising more passive, less formal interactions such as ‘comments’ and ‘likes’.
A new breed of tools
But just because Intranets themselves are increasingly seen as problematic, it doesn’t mean the underlying reasons behind their existence are invalid. Many organisations are seeking to digitise processes, drive collaboration and increase productivity.
A new breed of tools to satisfy these needs, while addressing the shortcomings of legacy Intranet solutions is emerging.
These applications are influenced by consumer services in terms of both design and capability, meaning they are instantly familiar to employees. This includes powerful search capabilities, communication tools and social features.
Communication is expanded beyond email to include real-time text, voice and video to allow for richer conversations and collaboration.
Such apps are cloud-based and mobile-optimised, allowing employees to access this information wherever they are. This ensures greater productivity in the field and enables flexible working practices.
Furthermore, the burden of maintenance and feature development is taken away from the IT department. Organisations benefit from a full technical roadmap and vendor cybersecurity investments, with updates rolled out automatically. IT departments are then free to focus on higher value work.
Insight Digital Workspace™
Insight Digital Workspace™ is an example of this new breed. Insight Digital Workspace™ intelligently brings together essential information, applications and documents into a single hub that can be accessed across multiple devices to help drive productivity.
It’s based on Microsoft Office 365, making it instantly familiar to employees, and works with third-party applications. And because Insight Digital Workspace™ is cloud-based, Insight takes care of maintenance and customers can scale up or down depending on their needs.
As a result, organisations benefit from lower Total Cost of Ownership and increased flexibility when compared to legacy solutions.
Learn more about how Insight Digital WorkspaceTM could help your business drive productivity.