2013 #intranet predictions

Last January we predicted a drive for home working, a push to get social with SharePoint, a need to prove the worth of intranet of today (with metrics), and a swing in investment to search and find-ability over ‘pushing’ news. And we were mostly right (phew!).

So what about this year? Lets turn off the lights, spin around three times and jab wildly into the darkness of the future (sorry… we’re probably still drunk). Yes, it’s our annual post in which we become sages and try and predict what the next 12 months have in store for intranets, digital workplaces and the good people that work on them.

1. People will still talk (and still moan) about SharePoint 2013

Many organisations put their short and medium term changes on hold while they waited to see what new functionality SP2013 would bring and if this would meet their needs.  This year the paralysis ends and the hard work begins, headaches and frayed tempers ensue, and development teams swear never to offer a platform like that again. Upgrade headaches everywhere.

2013 could well be the year Sharepoint begins to lose its dominance in the intranet market; with more and more organisations turning to alternative (out-of-the-box) solutions for their social intranet functionality. Companies struggle to understand what to do with their existing social plugins in light of SP2013 and/or Yammer. 2013 may be more watch and wait rather than a dramatic leap forward, much to the frustration of intranet managers and users.

Inevitably, people will be disappointed by Sharepoint 2013. A raft of blogposts, likely including some by us, will emerge to tell us how it’s not quite as good as people thought. New bespoke solutions begin to be designed, and so the circle will be complete.

New year, new version, same old headaches.

2. Heterogenous ‘patchwork’ technologies on the rise

More organisations decide to use a patchwork of technologies to create a heterogeneous intranet, rather than a single system to deliver all or most of their required capability. Best-in-class technologies, linked via a common portal and design, will give intranets great functionality but may be at the expense of SSO, user experience and IT costs.

3. The digital workplace will become more of a reality

For many, 2013 will be the year of the digital workplace. This will mean managers will become more ‘service providers’ than intranet custodians and the loss of ‘intranet custodian’ will leave a void that organisations will struggle to fill. Ownerless intranets will struggle to keep up with organisational demands.

Up to now, many have seen intranets and digital workplace as the same thing, or intimately related. This year the terms, the teams that support them, and the benefits and objectives will start to diverge and become clearer to everyone involved.

5. You’ll gamify your workplace badly

Neologisms like gamification will take hold in the mainstream, moving from a buzzword used by execs to something more tangible. But, it won’t be done well. Through lack of understanding and investment companies will be forced to use OOTB gamification functionality. The resulting primary school antics will lead to loss of credibility and trust in the value of your intranet. Enterprise software will implement it as a given – but good practices will only begin to be established towards the end of the year.

6. “Real-time” is the new buzzword for intranets as teams search for more immediacy

Real-time reporting (and real-time dashboarding) will become realities for intranets. This will mean that managers will instantly see how their intranet is performing and more importantly correct its course quickly. We will see more agile vendors building this into their products, but users of  ‘slow to change’ software like SharePoint will have to rely on bespoke solutions.

Real-time translation tools become more commonplace on multi-lingual intranets. We’re already starting to hear of successful implementations and expect this trend to take hold in the coming year as the technology continues to improve.

7. Companies stop trying to justify social

We’ve seen countless justifications and ROI calculations for enterprise social networks, but it’s clear that most companies struggle in this endeavour. Maybe 2013 is the year when companies write down social as essential communication and collaboration infrastructure, in the same way as telephone, email and meeting rooms. We’ll then focus on with using it properly.

It’s essential. It’s necessary. There’s no debate.

8. Mobility and mobile

“Think mobile” matures to “think mobilty”. In 2013, companies will focus on allowing people to work from any location, rather than focusing on making things work on mobile device. With increasingly flexible working, BYOD and the rise of tablets, we will all be thinking about ensuring all intranet services are available from any location the employee chooses to work.

With this increasingly mobile workforce, we do also expect to see the first ‘mobile-first’ intranet in 2013: an intranet designed for mobile in the first instance as the primary route for access with a desktop version playing second fiddle.

Bring your own device (BYOD) — and Choose your own device — will become a key consideration for teams.

What won’t change in 2013

  • People and data remain the heart of good intranet practice
  • Intranetizen will show their faces all over the conference circuit and continue to become as tired, dull and repetitive as all those other intranet gurus. We’ll try much harder to avoid this
  • The lunch menu will continue to be the most popular page on your intranet
  • Intranet conferences will continue to have only one female speaker on their line-up; missing the opportunity to shine the light on a growing group of intelligent and thought provoking female speakers. Maybe someone, somewhere in the world, will buck the trend and organise an intranet conference with more than one female speaker. Will it be you?


Photo credit: Cali.org on Flickr

There are 6 comments

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  1. Christiaan W. Lustig

    Regarding what you write about seeing “the first ‘mobile-first’ intranet in 2013”, my colleagues at Sabel Online and I are currently finalising that very thing. Although we didn’t strictly focus on mobile first, but at least took that approach to a responsive intranet for a non-profit client of ours.

  2. Ronan Lavelle

    According to Nielsen Norman, over 70% of corporate intranets are still developed on top of Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint is still a strong platform for intranets, but lags behind key new functional areas, like Social Collaboration and Mobility.

    This blog addresses some of these issues further: http://tinyurl.com/abcfv9r

  3. Jo Treverton

    Our canteen menu isn’t even in the top 50 🙂

    Oh and last month, we published our entire intranet to be mobile responsive using Bootstrap, so now it looks and works just beautifully on any mobile device! This has had to make us mobile first as bootstrap design has changed the way the intranet looks from your desktop and mobile 🙂

    Oh, and we don’t use SharePoint either 😉

    Great post!!

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