Every month, there seems to be a new piece of software that promises to be the next best thing to replace your intranet. But very few of them actually do. True, some of these tools are awesome, and help facilitate key areas of working, such as communication or productivity (Slack and Trello are great examples).
But they never tick all the boxes. What about document management? Does the software provide opportunities for learning new skills? And how do you collaborate on projects?
Considering some of our top intranet tools are a document management system, corporate social networking, and policy management, it’s clear that the latest apps aren’t going to be a one-size-fits all that fulfil all user needs. Add on top of that the growing requirements for e-learning and automated workflows, we need to start understanding that an intranet isn’t so easily replaceable. And actually, a standard intranet isn’t what we think it is these days (but more on that later).
Workplace by Facebook – just another clone?
The latest so-called intranet alternative to reach the headlines is Workplace by Facebook. Essentially a business version of the popular social network, companies can setup their own groups and follow company news within the familiar News Feed. This has understandably caused a bit of a headache for competitors like Slack and Yammer, but is this just another example of the same app but with different branding?
Indeed, Workplace by Facebook doesn’t fulfil the essential criteria of even a basic intranet, nor does it handle critical business requirements such as e-forms, e-learning, and project management. What it does do is provide businesses with an area for their staff to communicate in groups, watch videos, and access news.
But is that really enough for businesses to get their work done? As it stands, if a company used Workplace by Facebook, but wanted document management and workflows as well, then they would need to bring in other tools to do these tasks. Doing so would create a fragmented user experience, something which businesses are keen to avoid, especially if they are moving away from disconnected platforms like SharePoint.
Intranets have evolved into the digital workplace
Of course, companies are also recognising that the traditional intranet doesn’t solve all business challenges. Like the collaboration tools of today, intranets of yesteryear only solve a handful of core business issues, like document management and storing employee details.
In the past couple of years, however, intranets have evolved exponentially, aiming to facilitate multiple challenges that a business may face.
The industry calls this “the digital workplace”, a term that perfectly captures the magnitude of the software, and the way in which people are working nowadays. With a range of apps solving issues such as efficiency, engagement, productivity, collaboration, and communication, the digital workplace is a long way from the one-dimensional tools of past and present.
A digital workplace should be a fully integrated and unified software, with solutions like e-learning, business process management, project management and, of course, intranet tools, to help your team work productively.
So can intranets be replaced?
If we’re talking about intranets as a digital workplace – then no single tool is likely to come even close to replacing it. Today’s modern digital workplaces are simply too comprehensive to be switched for a basic tool that only fulfils one business challenge – you can’t create e-learning courses with Workplace by Facebook, for example.
The fact is, more and more companies are digitising their working, and seeing the value in doing so. A mishmash of different tools simply won’t cut it anymore – businesses need something complete and integrated in order to get their job done effectively and without having to switch from app to app. And a solution like the digital workplace is going to be a tough one to beat.
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