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The intranet might sound from a distant age. In early connectivity days, employees used to deposit and share files in many limited and time-consuming ways. Today, intranets have evolved to enable collaboration, enhance interactivity, and manage performance. So, what is an intranet for anyways?
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There might be as many reasons why a company has an intranet as companies are. In essence, however, a corporate intranet is aimed to connect employees to perform different functions. This is, of course, a very wide definition of an intranet’s purpose. Indeed, why an intranet should be used depends on each company’s structure, operations, and corporate culture. In business, a business intranet is, accordingly, a function of each company. To answer why would a company use an intranet needs, moreover, a better understanding of the current work environment.
The current work environment is radically different compared to 20 years ago or so. Back in the old days, employees used a company intranet largely to save and share files. The interactivity features so commonly today were virtually unknown. The intranet was, as such, of little value to employees, if not a waste of resources. Fast forward 20 years and you’ve got a digital-, collaboration- and interaction-oriented workplace. Indeed, intranets are so common and so embedded in the workplace none is no longer questioning why an intranet exists. This does not mean, of course, that intranets are deployed for no underlying rationale or only for collaboration and interactivity purposes. The importance of intranets has grown in recent years so much so performing day-to-day activities without intranets is unimaginable. Essentially, intranets are increasingly used to ensure strategic alignment, achieve employee engagement, and act as corporate memories. Then again, intranets are used for more immediate and practical purposes such as content delivery – now in much more effective and interactive ways. The following section shows how intranets help companies become more effective.
Clearly, one major edge of using intranets is immediacy. In contrast to messaging and phones, intranets connect employees instantly and in much more fun ways. More, intranets enable employees to get urgent tasks done right away. In a quick-paced and dynamic work environment, immediacy is not a luxury. So, having an interactive and collaborative intranet at the workplace is essential to perform tasks that cannot wait.
Today, intranets are more interactive and user-centric. That’s why intranets should be designed and deployed around users. This needs a deep understanding of user behavior and usability patterns and habits. To do so, users should be surveyed in order to identify each individual user’s needs and habits. More, changes should be introduced to intranet design and/or features in order to cater to changing user needs. For instance, more company intranet ideas should be proposed (by users) on a frequent basis to improve current functionalities. That way, intranets become a platform for collaboration, interactivity, and innovation. This is in fact or should be, any company’s raisons d'être to grow, if not survive. Focusing on users is, ultimately, a rewarding return for companies, if well invested, yields great results.
Once again, speed and interactivity are critical for intranets. In the current work environment, employees are required to deliver on spot. To do so, user experience should be enhanced to motivate employees to collaborate, interact, and innovate. The deployment of user-centered intranets is, accordingly, indispensable and should be designed according to user needs. The user needs vary, obviously, from one company to another and, of course, from one user to another. To cater to each user's needs and pace, intranets should be designed and deployed based on requirements made by users, not IT staff. Indeed, one most recurring problem in intranet design and deployment is about user experience and needs. True, current intranet features – e.g. video calls, instant messaging, drawing boards, etc – enable employees to interact and collaborate more. However, interactive and collaborative features are not enough alone. Instead, intranet design and deployment must have as an initial input user experience and usability patterns. This should not only make work experience smoother yet also more productive. That’s why IT staff should invest every effort to survey user needs and experiences before going for any intranet around in the market.
The intranets are not meant to deliver work only. They are, in fact, integral to work culture, if not work culture. By collaborating and interacting at one platform, employees create a unique culture. This culture varies, of course, from one company to another. Obviously, the day-to-day routines of each company – and user – differ dramatically from one workplace to another. This makes intranets particularly important to create and understand corporate cultures. At a user level, intranets are assumed to enhance the user experience, promote collaboration, and boost interactivity. At a company level, intranets are designed and deployed to enhance productivity and, ultimately, profitability. To balance out user needs and corporate requirements, intranets should be designed and deployed to develop a successful corporate culture. The design features and deployment requirements of intranets should, accordingly, inform and be informed by collaboration and interactivity patterns between employees. To build a successful culture requires, moreover, more investment in intranets beyond usability issues. Specifically, intranets should account for the long-run effects of using different features and functionalities by different users to develop a certain culture. This requires constant monitoring of intranet activity to correct for undesired user choices and enhance more effective and productive ones.
Typically, intranets are aimed to grow business and, ultimately, profitability. By promoting collaboration and interactivity, intranets enhance positive work behaviors. Then again, setting up an intranet for employees and letting everyone just go is not enough. Indeed, constant monitoring of employee usability patterns is essential to ensure users are collaborating in a right, productivity-enhancing direction. This does not mean, of course, intervening in how employees choose to work. Instead, monitoring internet activity should be such as to channel user activity into more positive and effective ends. For instance, employees engaged in wasteful chats should be informed not to do so indirectly by, say, sharing a universal message about chat protocols. Conversely, positive user behaviors can be enhanced by sharing periodic announcements about best-in-industry practices.
Today, intranets are a constant reality of the current workplace. To be productive and enhance corporate growth, intranets should be user-centered yet also designed such as to achieve corporate strategy. In addition to content delivery, intranets are used to enhance collaboration and, ultimately, develop a successful corporate strategy.
About Author: Ben Hadfield is an English copywriter and editor. Ben creates high-quality content that will have an impact on enhancing public relations, employee, dealer communications that are used internally and globally. He creates all in compliance with the law and appropriate legislation or regulations (e.g. copyright and data protection). Ben creates and publishes engaging and creative content for EssayWritingService and adapted to multiple platforms and tools (e.g. digital, newsletter, magazine, reports, presentations, speeches).