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Characteristics of Outstanding Intranets

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According to preliminary results of The 2012 State of the Social Intranet Study, many executives and employees are dissatisfied with their internal social networks.

As you can imagine, these results are very disturbing to us who develop platforms for internal social networks.

But we must remember that every year, a handful of intranets are recognized as being the best. They’ve been shown to make it easier for users to work together, help improve customer service, and help businesses bring better products and services to their customers.

So we know that social intranets don’t have to suck; others are making their social networks work. This includes companies like Cisco, Microsoft, E-trade, and Scotts Miracle Gro. If they’re doing it, you can too.

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And you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company with a gazillion dollars to pour into your intranet, either. In fact, according to the Intranet Benchmarking Forum, out of the 10 intranets recognized by Nielsen Norman Group in 2012, six had less than 15,000 employees.ever

What can we learn from these award-winning intranets?

Intranet Benchmarking Forum

IBF has been benchmarking intranets since 2002. Founded by Paul Miller, author of “The Digital Workplace: How Technology Is Liberating Work,” IBF has seen hundreds of intranets and is helping its members improve theirs.

A recent IBF live episode analyzed what makes for award-winning intranets. One of the ingredients they identified was a passionate team working consistent to make a great intranet. Show listeners said they loved the following about their intranets:

  • effective search engine
  • clarity of news
  • it makes their workday easier
  • being able to share success stories
  • having a place that touches all employees and upholds company culture

Step Two Designs

Step Two Designs, an intranet consulting company based in Australia, hands Intranet Innovation Awards every year. They observed the following themes among the 2012 awardees:

  • They put social tools in the service of people

Social tools are centered around people, not the other way around.

  • Gamification is being used to drive business change

A number of awardees are using gamification, not just for the sake of fun and games, but to bring real business value.

  • Enterprise mobility with responsive web design

Mobility is far from mainstream, a few of Step Two Designs’ awardees are already delivering compelling mobile intranets that are accessible on multiple gadgets.

  • Innovative intranets have a solid foundation of user research

As we always say, preparation and planning are key to a successful intranet, and these awards show the same thing. Innovative intranets get that way by being built on a foundation of extensive user research.

  • An effective dashboard drives changes in behaviour

Finally, recognition went to intranets that were creating home pages or dashboards that could shape users’ behaviour on the intranet.

Toby Ward

To round out this post, I’d like to point out Toby Ward’s post on the five characteristics of winning intranets. These are:

  • engage

Winning intranets engage employees through tools like surveys and story submissions, within the parameters of content guidelines.

  • standards

Guidelines and standards allow winning intranets to decentralize content publication without causing anarchy.

  • simple and clean site design

Outstanding intranets have clean, simple and highly navigable designs.

  • measurement

Measuring the intranet’s performance through both quantitative and qualitative metrics, helps the intranet team make necessary adjustments. Award-winning intranets also measure their ROI.

  • promotion

Even the best intranets need to be promoted to get user buy-in and adoption.

What Does Your Intranet Need?

Those are some of the elements that go into an outstanding, award-winning intranet. How does your intranet measure up? Do you have an award-winning intranet?

Which elements do you think you need to work on to get the biggest improvement?

Share your thoughts below.

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Noodle is the social intranet software that improves communication, enhances collaboration, and encourages innovation in the enterprise. It brings microblogging, wikis, document sharing, instant messaging and other social business tools in a single portal. Click here to schedule a custom demo.

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