Intranet 2012 predictions

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
Niels Bohr

The second week back in the office after the Christmas and New Year break is the oddest time, the holiday break feels very distant already. It’s a great time to propose ideas, plan out and prepare yourself for the intranet year ahead. So, what do we think 2012 has in store?

Here’s the Intranetizen 2012 prediction list

1. Austerity measures and the Olympics will drive companies to enable more home working

The intranet as a ‘digital workplace’ will become a step more real and more people will be encouraged to stay home and use the intranet to share documents and collaborate.

2. SharePoint maintains position, but 2012 is the year of the augmented social

The benefits of collaboration through dynamic community sites and micro-blogging are become more accepted and expected. SharePoint 2010 doesn’t quite cut the mustard in this space and in 2012 we predict many firms will ‘top up’ the social capabilities using tools like Yammer, Newgator, Chatter, Jive, etc. 2012 will be the year when heterogenous intranets will be common even in large enterprises.

3. Measure it with Metrics

Continuing financial crisis causes companies to drive savings and benefits from all of their spend. Intranets will have to prove their worth and demonstrate what’s being used and what’s waste. Good metrics that clearly demonstrate positive and productive outcomes – not outputs – will be key.

4. 2012 is a year for ‘sweating the intranet assets’.

Companies will look for programs designed to increase awareness and adoption of existing tools, rather than add new. When budgets are cut, intranet teams will look for opportunities to get more from what’s there already. The metrics will provide the insight as to how the tools are used; intranet teams will likely develop programs to inform and shape corporate culture.

5. Improve intranet governance; reshape the role of intranet manager

The last 3 years have seen an evolution in intranets, changing from simple internal communication publishing spaces into business-critical collaboration, social, transactional platforms. Your intranet manager is really the Director of Business Enablement.

6. Search

The demands on search will increase in 2012. Intranet managers everywhere will hear, “I want our search to be more like Google!” Trying to explain to Execs and employees alike that Google spends millions of dollars to deliver dynamic search will fall on deaf’s ears. Companies will want their search functionality to deliver better results with little investment. The results are likely to underwhelm. One (possibly unintended) result will be the growth of localised search linked to specific intranet content or functionality, such as expertise search through better employee profiles.

7. News will no longer be the star of the intranet family

In the last two years, intranet managers have witnessed a shift in the importance of news. Companies are moving away from news centric homepages and putting the focus on collaborative tools . This is evident in Intranet Benchmarking Forum’s monthly IBF Live sessions. In 2012, we will see even a bigger move. Corporate news will no longer be the primary focus of intranets; instead, users will actively visit to use tools that will help them to achieve results. 2012 is the year when intranet functionality becomes king, and not content. It’s through delivering real business value that the intranet will become an essential tool, not simply a nice to have. By 2013 internal communications will cease to be the primary stakeholder for the intranet.

Other prediction posts:

Photo credit: theilr



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  1. Kevin Cody

    I agree with all of the above. I have a few more suggestions.

    1) Importance of design. SmallWorlders has always been focused on the design and usability of the intranets we build. But this is now becoming the norm as evidenced by the designs in the 2012 Nielsen Norman Group Design Annual – and some of the winners of last years Intranet Innovation Award from Step Two. Basically an attractive design is no longer a nice to have (it’s amazing it ever was!)
    2) Gamification. There is a lot of buzz around gamification on the intranet right now. Difficult to know if this will explode or collapse in 2012 … but it is going to remain a hot topic.
    3) eLearning. I thought formal eLearning had died but it seems to have been reborn as part of companies’ blended learning approach to personal development and it is seen as falling under the remit of the intranet.

    Whilst the jury is out on (2) & (3) I think we can say (1) is a definite for 2012.

  2. @DigitalJonathan

    Thanks for your comments, Kevin.

    I agree that design of the intranet is important, but that usability is more important still. Beautiful, functional design is what I think you need to aim for — design above all is a recipe for disaster.

    Gamification is a really interesting point. We’ve discussed this possibility in my work and every time logical examples are presented (electronic badges for recognising a colleague for example), I see people physically ‘cringe’! I think the technology is there’s little appetite for doing it, at least in my organisation.

  3. Kevin Cody

    Completely concur. Poor usability = poor design irrespective of aesthetics.

    re: gamification – don’t tell anyone (!) but I have much the same reaction. Nonetheless the hype meant we had to develop a gamification engine for our platform. It is an important element of an intranet we are launching at the end of February for one of our clients. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. Andrew Gilleran

    Not so sure about No.7. News will always dominate for the main reason that it is communications people who mainly manage the intranets. I should know, I am one! Sure news has it’s place but the emphasis on the intranet as a key business tool is still a long way off in many organisations. Though with the likes of the Intranet Design Awards from Step Two in Australia, we can see great progress and potential. The use of metrics though, is a critically important one. Love the use the of word ‘outcomes’.

  5. @DigitalJonathan

    Thanks for commenting Andrew

    I can only speak for my own intranet, but I do believe that the management and primary purpose of intranets is shifting from internal comms to other tools including collaboration and HR transactions. My own intranet now has cross-functional ownership and is significantly better for it. It’s becoming a place of action not just information.

  6. @lukemepham

    Hi Andrew, Got to disagree with you about news. As more and more operational people start to see the direct tangible benefits of good collaboration,usable self service and content that contributes to the business’s core purpose Communications are going to be quickly brushed aside.

    Once the COO realises that X intranet tool contributes directly to profitability that tool is going to take some space off the Communications team on the homepage.

  7. James Mullan

    Great post and I especially like my new job title, now I just need to get that authorised by the Business Board.

    The only point I would disagree with albeit slightly is your point about News. I’m seeing a demand for more news not less on the intranet homepage, that’s not to say that collaborative tools aren’t important because they are and I’ll certainly be “pushing” their use but when it comes to where news is published first and where people expect to see it the intranet homepage is for us king at the moment.

  8. @DigitalJonathan

    Fascinating that the disagreement appears to be around the importance of news on intranets. We may look to explore this a little more with a poll and post. Thanks for your contribution as ever James.

  9. Andrew

    Another great post from Intranetizen! Interesting side discussion about news. I’ve just posted an article myself announcing the winner of an intranet home page design competition. Interestingly the winner -as voted by the public – has a strong focus on task completion and collaboration with not nearly the same emphasis on news as your typical intranet.

    I’m definitely with you on point 7. I can see it happening in my intranet consulting assignments as well – organisations want more than just on online newsletter.

    By the way, you can check out the winning design at:

  10. natp80

    Great post! And it pretty much covers all of what we are aiming towards. Completely agree the focus should be on tools – enabling the employee to do their job. At the end of the day that’s what all the ROI calculations are out to prove aren’t they? Have we saved time/money with this tool?

    The news issue is always an interesting one. Given that most Intranets sit in Internal Communications, there does tend to be emphasis on ‘News’. I do think employees should have an idea of what’s going on in the company, but also feel this news should be relevant, which is why we are personalising this based on memberships of group for example – much in the same way you might see your recent activity feed in LinkedIn.

    A balance of news and tools on the homepage should please most people, right? Hopefully!

  11. mark tilbury

    Love the comment about the job title changing. Business enablement may work but also something about enabling people within the business, aligning closer with capability, development, innovation and learning spaces rather than IT, Knowledge and Communications. It’s no longer about managing content sitting on a database behind a firewall but developing spaces where people can gather, network and play.

  12. Sanjay Morzaria

    I love point 5 as this is where I believe the greatest value can be evidenced.

    I also think that we should be open to using third party “best of breed” components or tools and integrate into our intranet CMS. In variably your CMS will not be able to deliver all you want at the highest level available.

  13. Is #intranet news, old news? | Intranetizen

    […] Our 2012 prediction post sparked some healthy debate about the role of news on corporate intranets. A mainstay of intranets since day dot, news has no doubt occupied a significant proportion of your homepage real estate but the time has come to challenge that position. Is news dead-space, or does it justify its inclusion with ease. This week we invite Rachel Miller of AllThingsIC to guest blog with the Intranetizen team to discuss the role of intranet news. […]

  14. Is #intranet news, old news? « « Sequel Group Sequel Group

    […] Our 2012 prediction post sparked some healthy debate about the role of news on corporate intranets. A mainstay of intranets since day dot, news has no doubt occupied a significant proportion of your homepage real estate but the time has come to challenge that position. Is news dead-space, or does it justify its inclusion with ease. This week we invite Rachel Miller of AllThingsIC to guest blog with the Intranetizen team to discuss the role of intranet news. […]

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