Intranets: ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’

I asked Di Burton (a leading voice who has always been ahead of the game on all things comms and particularly internal comms).
Q. What is your view on Intranets? Do you think they will still be used?
A. When they were first introduced, the thinking was that intranets were a ‘magic wand’ for communication. This is certainly not the case; intranets now are more of an HR manual in the sky. They have generally become a traffic jam and dumping ground and it is often out-dated and not a trusted source of information. Read more…
A view that is certainly shared – ‘According to Dante in his Divine Comedy the inscription above the door to Hades reads “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. For many this could also be the sign on the home page of their organisation’s intranet as, with business-critical decisions to make, they begin the daily hunt for information that they are sure should be somewhere in the application. It could just as easily be the sign on the door of the intranet manager of the organisation, though this door usually also carries a number of other job descriptions, all of which seem to be given more priority by the organisation than the care and development of the intranet.’
Searching is never smart
‘Often the decision is taken to implement a search engine, and only then does the scale of the problem of information decay become apparent’. – Read more… There are many reports that exist on how important smart searching tools are to save employees time when they look for information, but this is solving the wrong problem. The real question is why employees should be wasting any time at all searching for critical information. This problem should not exist!
‘There are a substantial number of intranets in the UK. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics indicate that 22% of all businesses have an intranet.’ I have trawled the Internet for intranet statistics to give some indication of engagement, usefulness or based on our experience and data, lack of. I found no such statistics and in that sense answered my own question. There are no statistics on intranets as a means of broadcasting and dumping information because generally no one knows, it is communicating with a blindfold. I found my evidence in the lack of evidence.
Leverage your lost information
More and more we are asked at mhub – are you an intranet or intranet replacement? This is generally because intranets have been used as a source of information and for communication with employees. However, this information repository should not be confused with technology that ensures crucial information is never missed by employees, that drives engagement, growth and successful transformation. This is all part of a bigger question around communications and strategy within a business. Everyone is so used to having an intranet or an information silo there is a tendency to want to hang onto it (or even more dangerously rely on it) even though evidence points out its deficiencies and innovation exists to effectively communicate, measurably!
We are not necessarily on a campaign to replace the intranet that many so desperately cling to. In fact, mhub improves intranets significantly by allowing you to enrich intranet communications, pull critical information/ multimedia content from the intranet and push them directly to measurably reach all of your desired audience. This actually lets you leverage the information lost in your intranet and with push notifications, dedicated desktop and mobile apps you can be sure that critical communications are never missed.
Analytics don’t lie
Engagement rates soar when large communications are broken down into bite size chunks and sent out more regularly. We have seen a change in the data ourselves. Mhub can be used to quickly fuse all digital content into rich and engaging microsites or newsletters that are easy to create and certainly look impressive. The engagement data was undeniable; if they are too long people will simply not look at them, no matter how exciting they look. The key is to create bite size engaging communications or break large communications down into key points of information. There are now a mass of communications channels at a businesses disposal, the key to success is to cut through the noise.
It is a case of whether communications professionals and leadership are brave enough to listen to what their employees want and adapt to the ways in which we would like to consume information. If they ever hope to execute a successful comms strategy, corporate transformation or to survive in the digital age, they will have to.