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Turning Your Intranet Outside-In

Intranets have evolved well beyond the news and human resource repositories they once were. Today’s internal online resource – whether you call it an intranet, digital workspace, portal – needs to integrate social and collaborative elements, not just push out corporate news stories and links to the latest all-employee-webinar. 

Social has become the way we work, interact, collaborate, and our digital workspaces have to reflect that. Yet while main stream, and even expected, many organizations are just starting down the path of how and where to start their intranet’s evolution from being push to pull driven. 

At the beginning of the digital age, companies approached web sites from their own internal, inside-out perspective. They took what they knew worked and applied it to everything, regardless if it made sense. In the case of an intranet, this produced a tool, if you could call it that, which often did little more than reflect back to its users, the organization’s structure and basic 101 information that was of little to no value to employees. Completely missing was the WFIM – what’s in it for me – from the employees’ perspective. 

Better Late Than Never

Today’s almost obsessive focus to provide the best customer experience, the perspective has to shift to be outside-in. This applies to intranets as well. What are employees trying to do/accomplish? What is their current context – where are they and what device are they using? Then ask - How can we help them achieve their goals? And, how can we ensure that they find what they need – and the entire intranet experience – to be more useful and usable than the alternatives?  So that they not only come back for more, but they also refer, recommend, and endorse the intranet as the go-to company tool you want it to be?

Making the Shift

Change is never easy. And trying to change everything all at once can cause exponential disruption that crush any of the intended positive outcomes from the shifts taking place. Evaluating your intranet to identify the good, the bad, and which corners the bodies are buried in, is a great place start the transformation. By taking a deep dive into all facets of your intranet – content, usability, technology, processes, governance, usage, etc. – with a fresh, new outside-in lens, will help identify where to start making the changes that take your intranet from inside-out to outside-in. 

Whether the evaluation points to a complete overhaul, or can be tackled one challenge at a time, ultimately you want the intranet to be: 

Employee-centric, so that: 

  • Employees identify with the intranet as their space.

  • The site addresses their informational, collaboration, work-related-social-networking needs.

  • Content is organized by how employees seek and use the information, not aligned strictly by company department or content ownership/governance structure. 

Simple, where:

  • The employee experience is really easy and helpful.

  • Using the intranet is a considered a good part of a normal work day.

  • The newest employee can find their way around the site without having to know the “inside baseball” of the organization. 

Where content and tools are pulled by users:

  • As they need them.

  • From whatever device they are using.

  • Easily and often. 
     

Inspiring, encouraging users: 

  • Creativity and new ways of thinking that help drive success for the individual, their team, and the company.

  • To take initiative and grow with the company.

Enabling, to encourage:  

  • Collaboration.

  • Community-building.

  • Employees to connect with each other and the company.

  • Productivity.
     

Companies need to look at what they want, and need, to deliver to employees in regards to tools and content, and then how their intranet can facilitate that end game. 

Linking Knowledge, People, and Tools

Any online work environment has to put employees at its center to be successful in providing them systems and supporting processes that enable, not hinder the work they do. Looking at your intranet from the outside-in perspective will help drive the evolution of the intranet to be part of a work environment that supports and encourages the sharing and retention of knowledge in your workplace. Making the intranet a tool employees will want to use to learn, share, and collaborate with their colleagues.

Cathy McKnight

Cathy McKnight

A founding partner with Digital Clarity Group, Cathy has a passion for working with clients to maximize their potential for success and profitability by helping them find the right-fit digital technology to help maximize their online engagement and efficiencies, within and outside the firewall. Cathy assists clients understand the value of their online technology and put it to use to embrace their digital transformation from being information based to engagement focused.