Intranet Trends in 2016

By Simpplr Marketing
No update needed
The start of a new year is typically the time to make predictions about what’s going to happen in the future. 

However, in the world of workplace technology, and intranets specifically, it’s difficult to look into the crystal ball. Both the technology that drives intranets and employees expectations of their intranets are moving at a rapid pace.

However, in 2015 and even before then, we’ve seen a number of deeper trends happening with our clients and within the industry as a whole. We expect these to continue into the new year.

Here’s our prediction of eleven things that are going to happen with intranets in 2016.

1. More companies get comfortable with cloud-based intranets

The cloud is now firmly on the technology agenda for more and more organizations. In the past there has been some reticence due to security concerns, but through 2016 we think more and more organizations will be able to resolve these issues.

In terms of intranets, this means more companies can benefit from a sophisticated and cost-effective intranet solution that doesn’t require huge IT support, since they’re easily scalable and accessible at any time and from anywhere. Through 2016 we think a cloud-based intranet solution will become an increasingly popular and viable option for many organizations.

2. Internal and external channels blur with crossover of content

More and more we’ve seen that the classifications of internal- and external-facing content have become blurred. On many intranet home pages, we’re seeing feeds from external social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Conversely, some intranet content written by and for employees is being shared on external social media.

We expect this trend to continue in 2016, particularly as internal communications teams continue to see value in alignment between internal and external messages, which can help drive engagement, employee advocacy and also awareness of the customer.

3. Community management becomes a skill, not a role

The recent explosion of social intranets, as well as interaction with customers on external social media has led to the growth of the community manager role. In addition to managing groups and channels on a day-to-day basis, this fledgling profession is adding value by driving adoption and strategy. A good community manager makes all the difference for success with social tools.

As social intranet usage ramps up within organizations, online communities are increasingly becoming embedded in everyday processes and routine ways of working. Subsequently, communities are no longer being managed by specialist community managers.

Through 2016 we think organizations will encourage site managers and administrators to learn some of the best practices from full-time community managers in order to drive the best use of their sites. Community management will increasingly become a skill set within somebody’s overall role rather than a standalone profession.

4. Traditional content-heavy intranets get harder to find

Recently we posted about what makes a twenty-first century intranet: It’s interactive, participatory, dynamic, easy to use, beautifully designed and highly relevant to the employee.

It’s a long way from the traditional intranets of the past, many of which turned out be static repositories of out-of-date corporate content, providing little value to employees or organizations.

Through 2016 we expect traditional intranets to be an increasingly rare breed as they are replaced by more modern and popular social intranets.

5. The need for mobile  access continues
Good intranet access from a mobile device has multiple advantages, supporting employees on the go and providing a more convenient way to consume information and interact. Given the advantages, we’ve been a little surprised just how slow progress has been on providing decent mobile intranet access.

We predict progress with mobile intranets in 2016 will still be slow. Anyone with a great mobile intranet solution is likely to be ahead of their competitors.

6. Intranet fundamentals are key

Intranets have changed for the better as design and capabilities have kept on improving over the years. Many of the fundamental ingredients that are critical for success have changed very little, however. These include having support from leadership, some degree of governance, clear ownership of different parts of the site, good content and so on. This won’t change during 2016.

Correspondingly, some of the most effective uses of the intranet won’t change either. It’s still a key solution for locating experts, leadership communications, providing knowledge about products, supporting communities, collecting employee feedback, etc.

7. The consumerization of technology keeps driving staff expectations.

A massive workplace technology trend of recent years has been the consumerization of IT. A few years ago employees’ experience of technology at work was way ahead of what they experienced outside work. Now the combination of mobile devices, consumer-focused websites, social media and apps has completely flipped the script, with the user experience of consumer technology usually better than the experience at work.

This situation will continue to drive staff expectations of their intranets in 2016. Employees want to have mobile access, beautiful design, apps, social tools and so on, and more intranets will try to emulate a consumer-like experience.

8. The battle against email continues

Within most organizations, email is still very overused, providing a significant drain on employee productivity and efficiency. A modern intranet can reduce email usage by providing a more effective channel for collaboration and communication.

As more social tools are used for everyday processes, the burden of email may ease a little. However, we believe any progress in 2016 is going to be very slow. Many employees seem unwilling to give up their email habit and we think the battle against the inbox will carry on throughout the year.

9. Organizations continue to move towards transparency

Transparency in organizations is regarded as healthy by employees, customers and shareholders alike. Social intranets can play a significant role in helping organizations move to a more transparent culture by providing everyone with an open platform to communicate and access information.

We’re definitely seeing more organizations move to a more transparent model. For example, the default setting for team and community sites hosted on the intranet is increasingly open rather than closed. CEO communications are more open and honest. In 2016 social intranets will drive more transparency.

10. Corporate intranets continue to feel less corporate

On a social intranet, user-generated content through blogs, discussions, picture galleries and even status updates provides an alternative voice to corporate content. The more informal and relaxed style of this content influences official company communications and makes them more informal too. Through 2016, corporate intranets will continue to feel less corporate and more the way real people engage and communicate with each other.

11. Intranets reach frontline workers in shops and factories

In the past intranets have tended to focus on serving workers based in offices, partly because it was easiest for them to access the intranet from their desktop computers. Frontline workers in factories and retail units were often poorly served because of the logistics of accessing digital channels during the working day.

In 2016, we think the barriers for non-office employees to access social intranets will continue to erode, as mobile and internet-based access provides the perfect opportunity to read and post content from any location. 2016 will see more and more frontline staff accessing the intranet.


That’s our view of the future for intranets in 2016! Have we got it right? Do some of our predictions sound way off the mark? Is there anything we’ve left out? Are you seeing some of these intranet trends in your organization? We’d love to hear what you think — let us know in the comments below!

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