Is the Intranet really dead?

One line of conversation at the recent IBF24 event that really struck a chord was provoked by a simple one line tweet “The intranet is dead”. At a time when so many organisations, including my own, are investing in their intranets, it was a striking comment.

Alex Manchester believes that the name ‘intranet’ certainly carries too much baggage but that conceptually, it’s hard to say if intranets are dying a slow death to be replaced by the digital workplace.

Pragmatically, what’s in a name? It doesn’t really matter what you call it, what it does is what really matters. I think the intranet is not yet dead, but the current and previous expectations of what one must deliver certainly is.

I believe that a great intranet is a communication, collaboration and transactional/executional workspace, accessed through useable, accessible beautiful interface that both reflects and drives corporate culture. Intranets that are not this already in some way are already dead or dying and intranets that only do this in 5 years time will go the same way. Intranets are not destinations, they’re journeys – evolve or expire.

The story of consumer electronics in the last few years has been one of convergence. Consider your mobile phone — 10 years ago you could place voice calls and, possibly, text messages. Now, it’s your music repository, your camera, your internet access, your satellite navigation, your games console, your pocket library and if the iPhone 4 is your bag, a video conferencing device. The story of intranets is also one of convergence and will certainly be in the future.

I think the intranet in 5 years time will work in the same broad headlines (Communication, Collaboration and transactions) but boundaries between these, and the depth to which they go, will change. Convergence will bring office stalwarts like shared meetings and telephony to the intranet, data will be in the cloud accessible from whereever your office is. Work is not a place, it’s a verb and the intranet, accessible from anywhere, will be your gateway. Such convergence brings convenience (with possibly some compromise) and that will be all important in the future workplace.

The intranet is dead; long live the intranet.

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  1. Nic Price

    Wearing my devil’s advocate hat, I’ve been killing off the intranet for a while. It always makes for a healthy debate 😉

    Funnily enough I wrote a blog post called “The Intranet is Dead, Long Live the Intranet” back in 2005. It’s a bit of stream of consciousness, but I used it to work towards a conference talk I gave about the digital workspace.

  2. Jonathan

    Be it 2005 or 2010, the question seems relevant! If the conclusion each time is “The intranet is dead; long live the intranet” I’m inclined to conclude that the intranet remains ‘fit for purpose’ and is evolving nicely to meet enterprise and employee needs.

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