As an intranet software vendor, we’re often asked, “What do you think is going to happen next year with intranets?”, “What will the next big thing be?”, or “What challenges will intranet managers face in 2019?”
It’s no surprise that there is so much curiosity around the future of intranets. We are in an era of rapid technological change, and understandably there is a lot of anticipation around how these technological changes will affect the landscape of the digital workplace.
While we don’t exactly have a crystal ball, we do have over a dozen years of experience and insight into intranets and digital workplaces. This experience has allowed us to better forecast trends, better predict change, and better manage that change when it happens.
Below are our top five predictions for Intranet Trends in 2019.
Data Privacy concerns come to the intranet
Data privacy concerns have traditionally been focussed on customer data, and less so with employee data. With the release of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, an EU Regulation which came into effect last May) data privacy for internal employees has come to the forefront. The aim was to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and how it’s collected. But GDPR affected more than a company’s publicly accessible websites. It affected any vehicle used to collect, process, and store data. In short, GDPR also affected company intranets.
Understandably GDPR is adding an unexpected layer of complexity many organizations did not fully anticipate. GDPR rules require intranet vendors to show how they will use the data collected, how long it will be held for, and how to dispose of it. GDPR also makes a specific provision for an employees right to give or withhold consent for their personal information to be stored and used. And, if they refuse, this cannot be viewed detrimentally.
While understanding the specifics of GDPR has been a headache for many organizations, it’s not something that we can ignore since the demand for data privacy isn’t going away any time soon.
Content curation, not just content creation
First generation intranets—and websites for that matter—typically had clumsy, clunky, poorly thought out and poorly executed information architecture (IA). But back then it was excusable. We were all figuring things out, and really, we were just excited to create something.
Today IA is different. With so much information and so much data, we are dependent on some level of organization.
Information architecture already plays an enormous role in our lives, even if we don’t realize it. From navigating our way through a supermarket, or trying to find our flight at the airport, without intuitive IA, we wouldn’t have much success.
The same holds true for intranets. When your content starts multiplying, and your organization grows to include separate locations, you need a way to structure your internal information and keep that structure fresh and up to date. IA solves the most basic problems of finding relevant information in an intuitive way.
The end result of good intranet IA is easily accessible information presented in a clear and organized way. Good IA is necessary if you are aiming for any level of intranet adoption. Without it, your intranet will become a ghost town where no employee wants to go.
A culture of automation
When most of us think about an intranet, we visualize a page displaying corporate content, important contacts, and a calendar of events. But intranets are quickly evolving into a vibrant platform for doing things, not just reading things.
2019 will continue on a theme that actually started a long time ago—where intranets became a place to manage and automate business processes.
One of the easiest ways to facilitate this is through the automation of forms. Up until recently, organizations relied on separate applications to manage things like vacation requests, benefits enrollment, address changes, or hardware requests.
Workflow automation through forms helps organizations streamline processes, and prevents employees from having to navigate over to different applications. With built-in approval processes, no one has to wait around for someone to approve an important request.
It of course also goes without saying that all this functionality is mobile friendly. After all, we are talking about 2019 trends, not 2012.
Integrations get deep
Integrations have become a key part of an enterprise infrastructure, helping us leverage existing technology and bridge the gap between multiple business functions.
But as time has gone on, we have started to realize that links to external systems alone are not enough. As intranets continue to be a central hub in the digital workplace, employees will expect seamless integrations with applications they use frequently—like Office 365, or Google.
Integrations have another additional benefit too: they play a key role in helping to increase and maintain intranet adoption. The stronger your integrations are, the less likely employees will navigate away from your intranet to access the information or documents they require.
Too many passwords
While working with one of our banking customers, an internal report revealed that employees had access to a total of 110 internal systems, each with their own set of usernames and passwords. On average, each employee had 26 different usernames and passwords to do their job. Their solution, as often is the case, was to roll out password management software. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really solve the problem.
The real solution—and one that smart organizations are opting for—is a unified single sign-on solution (SSO), like Azure AD, OKTA, or OneLogin. SSO helps employees save time, prevents lost or forgotten passwords, and reduces any possibility of password phishing. And like the other trends listed above, it’s a win-win for the user and the organization.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.
November 20, 2018