Traditional intranets have shifted into something new, often referred to as a "digital workplace" - something that allows employees to be more productive, that allows them to connect more easily to each other and that allows them to work remotely.
As both terms are often confused, I will tell you about the history of the intranet and its evolution towards the digital workplace - starting with a definition of the term "intranet".
I will draw on terminology based on the four purposes of intranets: content, communication, activity and collaboration.
A traditional intranet used to be nothing more and nothing less than an internal website. It was accessible to employees from a certain company within that company's walls.
The purpose of these early intranets was content and communication, in most cases top-down communication sent out by the internal communications or HR department.
For example: to improve internal communications, the responsible department would have a news feature on the intranet which informed employees about internal events, company changes, new employees and the cafetaria menu for the upcoming week. The HR department could post documents containing the company's car or leave and absence policies.
That was about it, until things started changing about 10 years ago. At a certain point, whenever an employee opened his browser, the intranet homepage would be his starting screen. Slowly but surely, integrations were added to the traditional intranet webpages: for example a gateway (usually via a simple hyperlink) to an HR self service tool to request holidays or to an existing team collaboration tool.
At this point, collaboration and activity started playing a bigger role, though they did not replace the original intranet's purposes of content and communication. That was the first step towards the "digital workplace": intranets had started becoming networks of digital tools and information to be accessed on the company's network.
Nowadays, companies are relying more and more heavily on their internal networks (note that henceforth in this blog post, we're not using the term "intranet" anymore) for content and communication, the two traditional purposes, as well as for collaboration and activity.
Let's look at some examples.
Modern intranets, or digital workplaces - what's in a name? - help our collaborators to get their jobs done or to find the information they need to take decisions timely. The power of these modern platforms is becoming increasingly easier to demonstrate to companies and their boards of directors.
In a next blog post, we discuss the business drivers for the digital workplace.
Damien Dewitte is VP Solution Manager for Digital Experience at AMPLEXOR. For the past 20 years, Damien has been helping clients across industries and geographies to break technical barriers and excel in their digital initiatives. He has been responsible for the introduction of document management systems, enterprise collaboration projects and numerous Digital Experience Management successful consulting projects. Leading a team of digital enthusiasts, he believes unique businesses deserve unique strategies and is responsible for driving innovation and creating customized approaches for digital experience and content management projects.