Your intranet is not about intranets anymore


The most symptomatic evidence of the evolution of the concept of intranets is obviously the much awaited study published by Jane McConnell every year. The ninth edition was issued a few months ago and anyone should take two minutes to think about the deep meaning of its title : “Organization in a Digital Age“.

Even if the subject is still the same, wha I’d call the digital work environment, the evolution of the title is meaningful. The very first editions were mainly about intranets, then came the word “digital workplace”, and this year there is no mention of any tool : it’s about organization. Understanding the reasons and the meaning of this change of perspective while the study is still about the same matter should be a mandatory work for anyone leading an intranet projet in order to take things by the right end.

Your intranet is your organization. And reciprocally.

The point is not and that an intranet project impacts your organization nor that a key success factor is to have what happens offline consistent with what is expected to happen online. The point is that your intranet is your organization, your organization is your intranet, they are the two sides of a single reality and dealing with the one without caring about the other undoubtedly leads to failure.

To understand how wide the scope is, let’s have a look at the scorecard introduced in last year’s edition.

digital_workplace _framework

Facts confirm Jane McConnell’s approach : if you dont question your organization about every single dimension, what’s the current situation, the target and how to bridge the gap “in real life” and “online”, the best technology and the full support of your CEO and CIO won’t be of any help.

The Digital Workplace is the tool of the digital transformation

Among the most interesting points of the study I’d mention the strong correlation established between customer relationship and digital workplace. That’s really something worth thinking about while everyone is rushing into digital transformation from a customer perspective while overlooking the internal side. For the record I remember that, 6 or 7 years ago, I saw a business measuring the impact of its internal social network by measuring the evolution of the net promoter score. So the study confirms that there’s no customer experience without employee experience and that the digital workplace plays a big part in this experience.

Start with “why”

That can be explained by another fact highlighted in the study : the most mature and digitally advanced organization in terms of digital workplace are those that conducted a deep work about the “why” of their project. Once one realizes that an intranet in not an end in itself, that people don’t collaborate for the sake of collaborating, that use cases prevail over functionalities, the vision of what should be de done and how it relates to many other matters is clearer.

In the same way, talking about a very transformational project, the top management is much more involved in these organizations, with a maturity and an exemplary nature that can’t be found in less mature organizations.

Technology alone won’t make your intranet successful

To back this conclusion, Jane identified the main causes of failures of such a project

• too many conflicting priorities in the company

• slow decision making and too much seeking for consensus

• Focus on the tools and technology, not enough on change

• Internal political games

• No solid business case

That’s only an overview of the study. You’ll find throughout the its 130 pages a very detailed analysis of all the elements of the scorecard mentioned above, a maturity based benchmark and many cases and verbatims. It’s so dense and rich that it can’t be summed up in a single blog post but, like every year, Jane McConnell’s report is one of must-reads. You can get it by following this link.