In the digital age an Intranet is becoming a more essential tool for businesses of all sizes to keep employees informed and engaged on direction and strategy.
A good Intranet site is a powerful tool in providing a portal for employees to interact and engage with what is happening across an organisation. The trap that organisations need to avoid is making an Intranet an information or document repository, for an Intranet to be fully effective it has to be dynamic.
The methodology I use for Intranet development is based upon what works in a commercial environment. An Intranet needs to be a website; it needs to reflect the culture of your business and to use dynamic tools that will engage your audience.
The critical question at the outset of any Intranet project is what platform to use. The vast majority of organisations appear to be using SharePoint as the platform of choice, and given it’s out of the box features and flexibility it is in many ways the ideal Intranet solution.
SharePoint isn’t perfect; it requires specialist development to transform from a document repository into a functioning website. But what SharePoint does have in its favour is a host of social media add-ons that can give an Intranet a really dynamic edge.
Social media is the future of communications. There will always be a place for traditional offline channels, but the social media revolution is upon us, and if it is embraced organisations will reap the benefit of employees who want to engage. The critical point with social media is that people spend a great deal of time on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace outside of work. So how do you take those concepts into a work environment?
This is where SharePoint really comes into its own. With its ‘my site’ functionality it delivers a personal homepage that provides employees with a business version of Facebook. My site helps employees share information about them including skills and experience; it encourages conversation and builds communities. It is an incredibly useful tool.
SharePoint also offers an out of the box blogging solution, which can be a really effective tool in bringing a business closer to its leaders. It is becoming harder and harder to get leaders out into the business with time constraints and commercial pressures. So, having a facility where leaders can blog thoughts and updates, in the style of Twitter, where employees can comment and feedback offers a relevant and effective alternative. Blogging is an effective way of selling the message, but also bringing out the personality of your leaders.
SharePoint is also a great platform for hosting films and webcasts, which in my experience are an engaging way to deliver messaging, and to tell your organisational story. In using films and webcasts you can take the concept of face2face communications into the digital environment. A CEO broadcast via film gives a message more personality and credibility than a traditional broadcast email.
My final observation on SharePoint is that it provides an effective gateway for employee feedback; which is essential for a business that wants to drive high engagement. The conversation between the ‘business’ and its ‘people’ is a critical part of an Internal Communications strategy, and through its interactive features SharePoint can act as a facilitation tool.
If you take SharePoint and tailor its features to your organisation it is the ideal Intranet solution for businesses of all sizes. I am a true advocate of Intranet technology, it is a tool that has reach across the majority of audiences, and can act as a primary channel. It enables you to control your message, and deliver communications in a timely and consistent way in a variety of formats and media.
An Intranet alone can never be the answer, but it is a complement to your Management community who are the primary communicators of the message. If you get your Intranet solution right, it can have a huge impact on employee engagement across a business.