MONDAY 22 NOV 2021 10:13 AM


Glyn Clough, senior SharePoint consultant at WM Reply, talks about the evolution of the intranet and why it is essential for businesses operating in the digital landscape.

Let’s start off with a bit of context setting. The traditional role of an intranet has primarily been that of a corporate communications platform. News, news, news. Larger intranets also have acted as a repository for structured organisational knowledge. Policy libraries anyone?

Historically, where traditional intranets start to get into muddy waters is when communication meets collaboration. For example, is the role of a department site on an intranet to provide for colleagues wanting to find information about said department, or for those who work within the department itself?

Now let's add to the mix the explosion of tools available for digital workplaces and the advancement of modern workplace technology over the past few years. Are these two sides of the same coin? When compared to the one or two 'online' tools used 10 years ago that were installed on singular workstations, we can see clearly the explosion of online applications and tools available via the cloud. The necessity for remote working, and now hybrid working, has only amplified this. We can also see an increasing level of both computer literacy and expectations in technology from the workforce.

What has this done to the digital workplace and how has it impacted the role of the intranet?

The answer is that the boundaries have been blurred around traditional intranets. The intranet no longer exists as a standalone island, with users visiting specifically to access content or knowledge within. Intranets are now rather one of many tools within the digital workplace, uniquely placed with the benefits of central backing by management, whilst still remaining relevant for all employees.

This means that an intranet can be positioned directly at the heart of the digital workplace; making it the launchpad for any digital journey. Looking to find a colleague with expertise in a certain area? Start with the intranet. Need access to those project documents shared with you last week? They're surfaced securely within the intranet. No need to remember how to access each of the tools out there, simply browse the enterprise tools directory from - you guessed it - the intranet.

I admit that since WM is a Microsoft consultancy, we are naturally huge advocates of the benefits available within Microsoft 365. However, we're really excited to see the development in hybrid working. Not surprisingly, it appears our way of thinking is aligned with Microsoft's. Microsoft Viva Connections + Teams + SharePoint are shaking up how colleagues can expect to access the digital workplace. Productivity and efficiency gains are now to be delivered side-by-side with traditional intranet content. In our view, this only serves to strengthen the traditional communications element of the intranet role; the more people see your content, the greater the opportunity for making an impact.

In this fast-moving environment the one constant we see is the intranet. As important today as it's ever been. And where do we see it? Right at the heart of your digital workplace.