SharePoint & Microsoft Resources

Why Traditional Intranets Are Old News

Why Traditional Intranets Are Old News

Many companies launched their first intranet in the 1990s, before many Gen Z employees were even born. We were all listening to TLC and the Spice Girls, hardly anybody had a work laptop, and double denim was at its peak.

The first iteration of company intranets were basic, static websites that offered a central location for employees to access information. Pages took minutes – not seconds – to load, and provided a basic one-way notice board upon which internal comms (IC) teams could publish messages, updates, and documents.

The requirements of a company intranet in 2024 are very different from 1994.

The world has changed considerably over the last 30 years, so it’s no surprise that the types of intranet platforms introduced in the ‘90s are no longer fit for purpose. What does come as a surprise is that despite being the 2nd most used employee communication channel after email, today’s intranets still sit at the bottom of the table in terms of effectiveness.

In this blog post, we consider the new role of an intranet and explore what organisations can do to create a digital workplace that enables their employees to thrive.

How to Build a Business Case for a Modern Intranet

A practical guide to help internal communicators secure budget and buy-in for a scalable, flexible, collaborative intranet.

Front cover of the guide to building an intranet business case

The Role of an Intranet in 2024

Creating an effective and engaging digital employee experience (DEX) is more important than ever, and the intranet has become the core foundation upon which other tools and technologies can be built.

Today, the role of an intranet is more about enabling employees to do their jobs effectively than housing documents and pushing out company updates.

The requirements and expectations of enterprise applications that make up the DEX have changed rapidly over the years, so let’s start with the basics. What is the definition of an intranet?

A simple intranet definition is an internal network that supports and enables employees by facilitating collaboration, information sharing, and communication. It is often viewed as the digital heart of an orgnisation, acting as the foundation for a myriad of other workplace technologies to create an engaging DEX. 

So what’s driven the change from an ‘online information repository’ to ‘engaging central DEX hub’?

Well, society has changed. We’re now operating in a tech-enabled age where employees are interacting with state-of-the-art applications daily. And they expect similar levels of engagement and interactivity from their digital workplace tools. So much so that 70% of Gen Z employees say they would switch jobs for access to better tools that help them work more productively.

When you consider the fact that Gen Z employees are set to account for more than a quarter of the global workforce by next year, a modern intranet becomes much more than just a ‘nice to have’.

Traditional Intranets are Dead

There’s no denying that the ‘old idea’ of an intranet is no longer fit for purpose.

Static, one-way document and policy storage sites fail to meet the needs of today’s workforce. And the cracks are starting to show. 32% of employees want more opportunities for ad-hoc communication with colleagues, 63% of frontline workers say messages from leadership don’t reach them, and 16% of Millennial and Gen Z employees have already left their jobs because the workplace tech wasn’t good enough.

Modern intranets play a key role in enabling this kind of collaboration and vastly improving our internal comms, which can lead to increased engagement, performance, and profitability. But maintaining a traditional intranet platform can place a significant strain on resource across both IC and IT…

Duplication of effort required to publish content across multiple platforms
An inability to effectively integrate with other DEX tools
Additional IT support required to update and maintain a legacy platform
Lack of opportunities for two-way communication and interaction
Poor functionality
Declining engagement and site usage from employees

A New Dawn of Intranets

Are intranets still relevant? Absolutely. But the time has come to reframe what we think of when we say ‘intranet’.

As we’ve explored, your intranet should be the seat of your DEX and is therefore reliant on functionality that allows true integration with other workplace technologies. And we don’t mean a big wall of links that take employees off to third-party sites, we mean a centralised ecosystem of workplace applications where everyday tasks can be done in one place.

This focus on integration enhances employee productivity, forming a solid foundation for an engaging and harmonised DEX.

In this new dawn of intranets, collaboration is just as important as integration.

Companies that promote collaborative working are reportedly 5 times more likely to be high-performing, and improved collaboration through workplace technologies is shown to improve productivity by up to 25%.

The stats are hard to ignore. And with more than a million organisations – and 91 of the Fortune 100 companies – using Microsoft Teams as their default messaging system, the business case for SharePoint is stronger than ever.

We’re moving further and further into ‘the age of SharePoint’ due to its unrivalled integration with the broader Microsoft 365 suite. With the use of Viva and Copilot also on the rise, SharePoint is becoming increasingly integral to a fully functional DEX.

Building an Enhanced DEX on a SharePoint Foundation

An engaging modern intranet needs to first be functional, then convenient, and then enjoyable. And while traditional intranets might meet some of the basic ‘functional’ requirements, such as a place to house policies and publish news updates, they will always fall short without the ‘convenient’ or ‘enjoyable’ layers.

Integration and collaboration sit at the core of a successful modern intranet.

SharePoint is the key technology to achieve this, creating a base for seamlessly integrating dozens of other Microsoft 365 tools and technologies. It saves time and effort for both IC and IT teams by minimising duplication of effort across multiple channels, and reducing reliance on separate third-party solutions.

We are people-first Microsoft 365 experts and SharePoint specialists. We build digital workplaces using Microsoft technology designed to deliver better employee experiences. Come and say hello if you’d like to explore how we can support your organisation!

More from Silicon Reef

4 Ways to Sort Your SharePoint Data Out

4 Ways to Sort Your SharePoint Data Out

Issues of data consolidation, security, and governance are high on many IT agendas. There are good reasons why these could and should be addressed within SharePoint. Here we look at what you should be doing. Many in IT are very aware that they need to resolve multiple...

Using SharePoint to Improve IT Service

Using SharePoint to Improve IT Service

SharePoint has been with us for a long time. But it’s now entering a new age in which it will become increasingly pivotal to almost everything we do. Many businesses are currently using third-party solutions to meet business needs that SharePoint is already very well...

Internal Comms vs IT: The Great SharePoint Debate

Internal Comms vs IT: The Great SharePoint Debate

Internal Comms and IT teams are often on opposite sides of the SharePoint debate. IT want to make use of the licence they’re already paying for, keep everything under one roof, and don’t understand why Internal Comms teams can’t just get on with it. Internal Comms sit...