The evolution of the digital workplace

When I think about what we can now achieve through technology, I am quite simply amazed. The constant demand for faster, more accessible and data driven information means that technology must continue to astound in order to meet demand. As people become more used to such advancements in technology day-to-day, it is natural that this becomes expected in the workplace too.

Studies show that 85% of companies have an intranet or employee portal of some kind, but how many are meeting the demands of the tech-savvy world we now live in?

The evolution of digital workplace timeline

Introducing the traditional intranet

Much like the internet, the intranet was created to broadcast news, and give employees access to information across the company from one platform. It was a static site built with a rigid structure that did very little to aid collaboration, or it turned out productivity as content became difficult to find and employees weren’t encouraged to visit the site.

It was a revolutionary way to deliver internal communications, however, it did not fundamentally improve the communication process – messages were still being pushed down through a one-way communications channel without involving employees or discovering ways to ensure the content was consumed.

As organisations adapt and evolve, the traditional intranet tends to get left behind as a desert of outdated content and functionality that can’t keep up with its new environment and the expectations of employees.

The emergence of Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs)

Social media has completely changed the way we interact with one another, and it wasn’t long before organisations recognised the benefits social tools would bring to the workplace. Employees and their relationships with colleagues became the key focus over business process.

In essence, ESNs were all about short form communication, which meant chats with colleagues and business activities flowed through the same network stream. It started to give employees the chance to form interest groups and connect over content, tapping into collective expertise across the organisation.

This was great news for technological advancements, but corporate communications would get lost amongst the noise. Where employees have no choice of the content they receive through a traditional intranet, an ESN enables the user to define all the content they see, missing out on key business messages and knowledge they are unaware even exists. Questions were raised around how a business could ensure if these tools yielded any productive results?

Welcome the social intranet

It was clear that ESNs weren’t meeting the needs of employees, management and communications professionals alike. The workplace needed something that was both social and purposeful; it needed a social intranet.

Latest research proves it pays off to have a balanced site as collaboration increases by 11% on intranets which have a blend of collaboration, communication and business process, compared with collaboration only sites or tools.

Combining the best features of a traditional intranet, ESN and more, the modern intelligent intranet has become the most effective way to get work done. Technology has made it relevant to the user, enabling content to find people on a device they choose, when they choose it.

Embrace the cloud

It was cloud-based technology that led the promise of business efficiency through social collaboration. A recent survey of over 550 intranets worldwide showed that those hosted in the cloud encouraged 31% more employee engagement and collaboration than those intranets hosted on-premise. And it continues to provide solutions to challenges facing the workplace, such as supporting flexible and remote working, reducing email traffic and increasing knowledge sharing.

Soon we will be plugging ourselves into our intranets and extracting our thoughts; not to be quoted as an actual prediction, but nevertheless I am excited to see where the digital workplace takes us next.

Intranets: Are they still relevant?

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