Intranet solutions have become smarter, easier, more socialized and less costly. Here’s a breakdown of types, and some resource highlights.
The landscape of company Intranet solutions has changed significantly over the last few years, from self-hosted technologies managed by local IT support teams, to cloud-hosted web-enabled applications with centralized technical support. Usage and setup has become easy and intuitive such that business users can manage the “who, how and what” of the intranet themselves. Even small companies, for whom the costs and hosting issues associated with early Intranet solutions were prohibitive, can easily select a cloud-hosted service and reap the benefits of a shared and structured workspace that fits their business requirements.
A quick review of available products suggests that there are three key design intentions that distinguish these products from one another: Social Business, Project Management and Collaboration, and traditional Information and File Sharing. Although there is significant overlap among these platforms, they are designed to support and enhance a specific work type.
Social Business platforms (Jive, Salesforce) are structured around the concept of the community – whether a community of work peers or a community of subject matter experts – who communicate and collaborate with one another and with customers and partners within the framework. Integrated with CRM, these platforms focus attention on engagement and relationship management in a business context.
Project Management platforms (TeamLab, Huddle, Basecamp, Podio) are built around the shared team or project workspace, with tools to manage milestones, deliverables and tasks as the key components of the structure.
Information and File Sharing platforms (Igloo, OfficeAbility) are more reminiscent of the traditional Intranet with files and folders of information as the cornerstone, although these modern versions incorporate some of the features of the all of the other platforms such as streaming conversation, team workspaces, and shared contact management.
Typical features of these intranet products include:
- Personal Profiles
- Shared contacts
- Homepage widgets (customizable)
- Bulletin Board
- Quick company links
- Employee Directory
- Social Stream
- Company-wide Calendar
- Project areas for teams
- Publish news (CNN, etc.) via RSS
- Live Chat
- Content/File Management
- Permissions by role or individual
- Comprehensive Admin Dashboard
- Photo Gallery
- Video Gallery
- Create Private groups
- Search Capability
- User Polls
- Internal Messages
- Email integration
- Social Analytics (reports)
Costs run the gamut from free to thousands of dollars per month, depending on the number of users to the integrated features and add-ons one requires. But in the array of options, there is one to fit almost any business, large or small, simple or complex. Establishing your business goals for a new work platform and understanding the type of work processes your business engages in are the keys to selecting an “Intranet” solution that can support and enhance the activities of effective and productive work teams.