For many of today's forward-thinking professionals, keeping up on the latest trends and technological advancements is a major interest, and for good reason. Paying close attention to what's happening not only within your own industry, but across the entire landscape of modern business means staying ahead of the curve.
Because competition is only getting more and more intense with the advancement of technology, it's never been so important to stay focused on what lies ahead, and this is especially true when it comes to intranet trends for 2017.
Having well-designed social intranet software can do a great deal of good for your business, regardless of what your day-to-day focus may be. The right social intranet solution can help employees collaborate with each other in an effective manner, no matter where they may be located geographically. There's more to an effective intranet solution than simply choosing the right platform ... for best results, you have to keep your eye on the latest intranet trends.
Trends can certainly come and go, but those that are most effective tend to stick around for quite some time, and understanding which might work best for your organization can help boost the utility of your social intranet to a large degree. Take the following intranet trends for 2017.
When the concept of the social intranet first came to fruition, it was most commonly associated with the professional or business sector. It's true that a well-designed intranet can make all the difference in the world when connecting today's for-profit businesses, and the prevalence of intranets in the professional sector is only increasing.
What often goes overlooked is that social intranets are being embraced by a broad reach of organizations, ranging from educational institutions to non-profits, churches, and everything in-between.
If the goal is for a group of individuals to be able to communicate more easily with each other, a social intranet can typically serve as the perfect solution.
Perhaps the most common focus of modern business is trying to cut-down on wasted time and improve productivity in as many ways as possible. Integrating many business processes is an intranet trend that has been followed for quite some time, and it's only proving to be more thoroughly embraced as time passes.
More often than not, the goal is to cut down on the amount of different applications that need to be used throughout the day.
By handling all of your scheduling, task management, collaboration, communication, and content creation within the rails of your social intranet, you can eliminate the need to use outside software that is typically delegated to handling these tasks individually.
Social intranet software makes it possible to combine a multitude of business processes without allowing anything to get lost in the mix -- which saves time, money, and energy for you and your employees.
Intranets are moving towards a more user-centric and personalized focus. This has been fueled by a penchant for simple design and integration of social media in practically all avenues of life. This couldn't be more true of today's intranets, as the name of the game is creating a comfortable virtual environment where users can interact and be productive without feeling any pangs of stress or confusion.
In the early days of the social intranet, user experience often suffered to the point where simply navigating from one portion of the community to another was a challenge. As user interfaces have become more streamlined and attractive, the focus has shifted towards user experience, providing your employees with everything they need to comfortably approach their tasks. Focusing on the needs of your intranet's community members doesn't have to be difficult, and the sooner you can get started, the better.
It's important to view every organization as being the sum of its parts. In most cases, every member of your staff has something unique to bring to the table, which can often translate to untapped knowledge that is hiding beneath the surface and just waiting to be unleashed. Unlocking this knowledge can do a great deal of good for any organization, and using your social intranet can be extremely effective.
There are countless ways to unlock knowledge that may be hiding within your intranet. Crowdsourcing ideas and solutions, for example, is a great way to give your employees a voice without having to put in a lot of extra effort, and you can do so via forum posts, individual / group messaging, and content creation. And make sure that all employees are filling-out their community profiles to the fullest degree, too, as this can help managers identify experts if they're in need of someone with a specific skillset.
When discussing intranet trends, it's important to know what's affecting technology as a whole. One of the biggest influences on how we browse the web today is the popularity of mobile technology, and mobile devices are only becoming more and more a part of the Internet every day. As you might expect, mobile technology also affects how your employees access your organization's intranet, with many people being tied to their phones and tablets during the day.
Anyone who has vistited websites on a smartphone or tablet knows that not everything translates the same way as it would on a laptop. Designing a mobile intranet is often the first and most important step to stay relevant.
There are plenty of reasons why an organization might prefer a self-hosted intranet solution. Security is huge with a self-hosted intranet ... and privacy is no doubt one of the most important things your company will need. However, one of the biggest intranet trends for 2017 is that more and more companies are moving towards cloud-based services.
Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) intranet solutions are preferred by the vast majority of today's businesses, and the numbers are no doubt growing. The cloud takes a lot of stress and confusion out of the equation, and privacy/security doesn't have to suffer in the process if you choose a reputable vendor. As the cloud continues to grow in popularity, box-based solutions are quickly fading into the past.
As user experience is exceptionally important, focusing on the look and feel of your organization's social intranet is something that should never be ignored. Today's professionals are often expected to move between applications like second nature, and in order to make this process as streamlined as possible, it's important that a degree of familiarity remain constant the entire way through. Software that is unappealing and ugly-looking ... or is designed in a way that might not be familiar to the average employee ... will only get in the way of productivity and cause problems.
When choosing a platform for your organization's social intranet, you should always hold the importance of flexibility and customization options in high regard. The best intranets will take the most effective aspects of modern social media and combine them with business centric tasks and processes to create an experience that is both familiar to the user and easy to understand for those who are entirely new to social intranet software. Things should simply "work" without the need for any excessive intervention or training, and it's all about having flexibility and the most attractive user interface as possible.
One of the most effective ways to embrace your company's intranet is to use it as a knowledge base. A well-designed knowledge base is one that combines a wealth of information pertaining to company procedures, guidelines, and everything in-between. Cataloging a great deal of information can easily result in an overwhelming experience if the right amount of care isn't taken ... which is why categorization and robust search features are big intranet trends of 2017.
The more in-depth your knowledge base goes, the more you'll need a search feature that allows you to find exactly what you're looking for at a moment's notice. This means that content needs to be tagged properly and filed-away efficiently, which can help cut down on the amount of time it takes to recall information. Without a robust search feature, intranet content will no doubt get buried and lost in the shuffle as your knowledge base grows.
When you have an organization that is made up of many departments, keeping things organized can be a tricky scenario. This is especially true when it comes to your organization's social intranet, as confusion can quickly result from information overlap. Segmentation is a growing intranet trend for 2017, and it's extremely useful when properly employed.
To ensure that you're getting the most out of segmentation, it's important that your intranet has ability to split the virtual community into a number of different online workspaces. By doing this, you can give your marketing department its very own space, as well as your sales staff, and whatever other teams make up your business. This way, no one is getting any extra and unnecessary information.
Transparency and openness is a growing need in today's business landscape, and for a number of reasons. Modern employees want to know that their ideas are being heard and that nothing is being hidden from them. Today's best managers and CEOs are doing whatever they can to answer to the needs of transparency, and using a social intranet is a great way to get started.
The great thing about interacting with your employees within a virtual community is that you can put everything on the table without concern. Schedules can be shared, strategies can be discussed, and questions can be answered with ease ... all without the need to leave the community. The importance of transparency is likely to grow as time passes, which is why embracing these philosophies now will greatly benefit you and your team in the future.
One thing that often gets overlooked is the effectiveness of adding fun to your social intranet. Fun is often associated with wasted time, but it just so happens the exact opposite is often true.
Adding fun can be done in a variety of ways, one of them being gamification. Gamification can be used to encourage competitive participation within your social intranet, and you can learn more about it in this blog post: How to Motivate Employees with Gamification on Your Intranet.
Another way to add fun is by allowing your staff to decompress and talk about their interests and hobbies. This can be a great way for them to overcome the afternoon lull that often accompanies a long day at the office, and your organization's social intranet is the perfect platform to encourage these discussions. You can create spaces within your community specifically devoted to music, art, sports, or whatever other interests may run through your workforce. And when people have the opportunity to converse with each other over common interests, employee engagement and productivity often go through the roof.
Customer service has always been super important to any business, but it continues to grow more pertinent as each year passes. Keeping customers and clients happy means not taking days or even weeks to respond to their questions and concerns. Many companies are embracing this intranet trend of incorporating customer service right into their social intranet.
Your social intranet contains a number of different features that can help improve customer service. Cases can be opened to address any concern that your customers have, and employees can manage them as they see fit. Improving customer service should always be viewed as an ongoing process, but the more you can incorporate this intranet trend into your social intranet, the faster you'll start seeing results.
Today's project managers need the right tools to truly get the most out of the workday. There are countless ways to take things to the next level, but many people overlook the utility of the modern social intranet. When an intranet is properly utilized, managing even the most complex projects becomes second nature. More often than not, it comes down to finding a system that works for you as a project manager, regardless of how simple or complex it may be.
The basics of project collaboration haven't changed a great deal over the last few decades, but how today's professionals approach projects certainly has. Project managers who learn how to utilize the finer points of their intranets will no doubt save time, effort, and energy in the process, and this is a trend that is becoming a true constant across all industries. There are many collaboration tools available in today's social intranets, so take advantage of them.
Generally, intranet trends are always changing because some are really worth embracing and some just aren't necessary in the first place. If you can isolate those which actually have utility and provide value from the "buzz" trends that instantly go away, you'll be one step closer to running an impactful social intranet. Be discerning, and the decisions you make will surely benefit your organization in the long run.
Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.
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