Traditional vs. Social Intranets: What’s the Difference?

Bloomfire Admin
2 mins

Though more than 80 percent of organizations have had intranets for 5 or more years, and 65 percent of employees access their intranets 1 or more times per month, dissatisfaction with intranets is high. According to Forrester, 75 percent of people solely use their intranet for human resources purposes like benefit information, company directories, and training courses.

Employees want and need social tools, but their intranets either don’t provide social components or they provide tools that employees resist using for various reasons. Prescient Digital Media’s Social Intranet Study reveals that 72 percent of employees rate their internal social media tools as merely fair to very poor. Only 28 percent rated them as good to very good.

Intranet Limitations That Employees Hate

According to Website Magazine, employees who hate their intranets are dissatisfied for the following reasons:

  • Stale and outdated information
  • Poor search functionality and navigation
  • Frustrating or non-existent communication tools
  • Terrible document management capabilities
  • Weak or difficult content publishing and sharing
  • Inability to segment the community

As Gerry McGovern, CEO of Customer Carewords® and a workplace technology thought leader points out, “Intranets die under the weight of old, outdated, stale information. Employees of too many companies have to put gas masks on before visiting their companies’ intranets because they just stink so bad.”

In other words, many corporate internal websites are, quite frankly, ugly and boring. If a customer wouldn’t stick around to use such a terrible site, McGovern asks, why would an employee?

“Digital transformation is cultural transformation first and foremost,” McGovern says. “Collaboration is a cultural thing, not a technological thing. We must create the culture that encourages and rewards collaborative working, and which makes the best use of all these new technologies — understanding that the world is shifting at a dizzying speed from a hierarchy to a network.”

How Are Social Intranets Different?

While traditional intranets often have authorship restrictions and may require coding experience to edit, social intranets are typically much more user-friendly, and anyone with permission can upload posts, comment, and ask or answer questions.  Good social intranets will:

  • Allow employees to easily search for and find the information they need
  • Support many different file types, including videos
  • Let employees connect around shared job roles, projects, or interests
  • Give employees access to the information they need, wherever they are (that means the intranet should be mobile-friendly)
  • Drive engagement by including social elements, such as being able to like or share a post

As workplaces continue to shift from traditional offices to more flexible or remote environments, the need for collaborative knowledge sharing tools will only continue to increase.

To learn more about why employees will have a social intranet, with our without you, check out our eBook, “The New Social Intranet: How We Collaborate in the Digital Age.” It delves into internal communication problems employees endure and the fundamental need for intranets and social collaboration enterprise-wide.

September 28, 2015

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