In the past few years, the world of intranet technology has been changing and improving more rapidly than ever. Most recently, we’ve seen the adoption of a more social variant of intranets by many businesses, and the advancements just keep coming. Long gone are the days of intranet systems with limited features and seemingly nominal productivity increases. Today’s intranet is a well-oiled machine with intuitive features, time-saving elements and an increased capacity for collaborative efforts. The year ahead is set for even more advances to allow intranets to take businesses to new heights of success. Watch for the following 10 trends in intranet features and improvements to develop in the coming year:
1. The Ability to Phase an Intranet Launch
The technology of recent years has made intranets more dynamic than ever. However, modern businesses and their processes are also more complex and nuanced than ever before. As a result, a strong need for the ability to phase an intranet system gradually into the workplace has developed. The coming year will allow for more of this phased implementation capacity, with businesses able to prioritize functions and features. They will then be able to roll out their company intranet in a controlled and strategic manner for maximum enhancement of business processes and minimal disruption of workflow.
2. Even Easier Collaboration
With so many businesses spread across the globe, the ability for collaborative work is more important than ever. The need for an intranet that allows for project teams to stay on the same page no matter where they are located will be better met this year, with increased capacity for intranet-driven collaboration in organizations. A secure virtual office will be as close as your device of choice. Collaboration tools via SaaS (Software as a Service) will increase exponentially and help to improve intranet-based productivity.
3. Enhanced Security
The need for heightened business data security was abundantly clear throughout the past year, with many high-profile breaches making the headlines. Intranets are a potential gateway to high amounts of valuable business intelligence as well as personal data, making intranet security more vital than ever. Expect improved hosting options, better security at the application level and augmented data safety. Businesses can also look for improved infrastructure security at the level of the operating system and network access permissions. These improvements will also assist in regulatory compliance and better security at intranet deployment levels in 2016.
4. More Cooperation with the Cloud
Cloud computing has spread rapidly in the past decade, making content-driven businesses easier to run than ever before. This growth is only expected to continue as users enjoy ease of storage and the ability to access their data from anywhere. As a result, the coming year is expected to bring new strategies and products that allow intranets to be more effectively integrated with the cloud. The two structures will complement one another and maximize the strengths and benefits of each.
5. Integration with The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things refers to products and objects that are embedded or augmented with technology such as software, sensors and electronics that allow for network connectivity. The result is an ability to exchange as well as collect information. “Things” such as shipped product packages, home appliances and electronics and even whole houses can now be connected with the Internet for monitoring and making the most of their features. Integrating The Internet of Things with company intranets is extremely valuable to companies with fast-changing supply chains. This integration is set to make great strides this year.
6. Better User Interfaces On-the-Go
The mark of an effective intranet is user-friendly access no matter what the device or situation. With the advent of mobile devices and their recent proliferation, the need for more elegant and effective user interfaces has grown as well. Look for mobile-friendly intranet interfaces and features that are more conducive to touchscreen usage than ever before. These improved user interfaces will also allow for fast implementation on the fly, improving the overall effectiveness of the business intranet use by a range of users.
7. Improved Search Functionality
Dynamic and effective search features are paramount for efficiency and accuracy in businesses networks and systems. Slow or inaccurate search can add up to many wasted hours of productivity over the course of a year as well as untold lost revenues. Effective search capacity is a crucial component of an effective company intranet, and strides will be made this year to help ensure intranets measure up to the high standards required by modern businesses. From improved search processes to better metadata, intranet systems that support employees in finding what they need quickly and efficiently will be more readily available for use in 2016.
8. Full Integration of Social Intranet Capacities
Social functionality within intranets have been growing and proliferating in businesses in recent years. Social Intranet tools like blogging, sharing, chat, video conferencing and the ability to “like” and comment have been included in many workforce intranets to help workers stay engaged with one another in the business atmosphere. Expect the full maturation of the social intranet this year. This will likely take the form of social tools, features and considerations becoming a more natural part of general intranet use for just about any type of project or collaborative effort. For more information, read our guide on building a compelling social intranet business case in your organization.
9. More User Input Will Increase Refinements
The growing social nature of intranets has already increased communication in businesses. When this aspect is functioning at its very best, employees feel heard, respected and know their individual opinion matters. Company owners will take note of this positive development this year and take an even more focused interest in the user experience. From there, worker input will allow the company intranet to be made even more efficient and effective for each business. Expect a more concerted effort and ability to customize each business intranet to the specific business and employee needs.
10. Iterative Change and Development
While massive overhauls and redesigns of an intranet system are sometimes called for, 2016 will pave the way for smaller focused and targeted iterative changes over time. In many cases, just a minor change to an intranet system can make a big difference in enhancing productivity and performance, so this type of change is not to be taken lightly. In fact, iterative change can assist with making intranets more user-friendly and customized to a business. Companies that make progressive changes in a more intuitive manner will be able to better maximize intranet performance year after year, or even month to month. Staying in tune with worker needs (see trend #9) can help to inform a company’s iterative change agenda and allow this nimble development style to make the company intranet the very best it can be.
Intranets have made huge strides for companies in recent years, and improvements and enhancements to existing technologies are only expected to continue. Today’s intranet embodies both productivity enhancements and social benefits for workers, with both company profits and employee satisfaction increasing. The 10 intranet trends for 2016 discussed here will build on the many benefits of an intranet. Businesses that adopt one successfully can expect increases in productivity, worker satisfaction and improvements to the bottom line.