Reading the tea leaves – 10 prioritized intranet trends for 2023
Organizations are about to kick off a new year with updated intranet roadmaps and plans for improving the employee experience. In this article, you will find our predictions on what intranet trends that will be prioritized by mid-sized and larger organizations during 2023.
Despite the headline, our forecasts are mostly based on a recent survey on digital workplace priorities for people within Comms, IT, and HR functions. Our overall takeaway from the feedback we have received is that respondents seem to prioritize basic aspects of the intranet over the ‘buzz words areas’.
1. Improving the user experience
A common priority for 2023 is to improve the user experience to help revitalize the solution and drive adoption. This first trend predicted seems to be stronger among organizations with an intranet older than two years and among activities planned to reach this target we find:
- Improving navigation to simplify content discovery, especially regarding mega menus and personalized navigation.
- Strengthening possibilities to publish content to the right target audience.
- Implementing or updating branding and design patterns for the solution.
Many organizations have realized that the customer experience has been prioritized for years and now aim to let the employee experience catch up. A common source of inspiration for the upcoming work seems to be apps and web solutions targeted to consumers, with respondents mentioning the benefits of an improved mobile experience and personalized solutions with less need for training.
We expect that any end-user hopes for an improved and more consumer-like intranet experience might come true during the upcoming year. And in many organizations, we understand that the work for this cause already is ongoing.
2. Multi-channel publishing
The second trend that we will see during the upcoming year is activities to strengthen multi-channel publishing within intranets. Now, we see many organizations looking for ways to not only provide content for web browser visits to the intranet but to reach end-users where it is most convenient for them. The most common channels that are being investigated and prepared are:
- Provide intranet features or the full intranet experience in Microsoft Teams. Today it is easy to publish the intranet to Teams or to cherry-pick valued features and provide these as Teams apps.
- Implement an intranet mobile app customized to organizational needs. The plan seems to be to go for mobile apps that can be adjusted to the needs of selected target groups and that can be white-labeled to accommodate a selected name, icon, color palette, etc.
- Display selected content via digital signage. A common example is publishing news articles, events, performance indicators, and announcements to one or several selected screens.
Other means that we hear intranet owners talk about are letting editors publish content to an intranet channel with support for end-user subscriptions and newsletter send-outs to seldom-users in the hope of persuading these to take part in selected content.
3. Personalization of content and resources
A trend that we think might be skyrocketing over the upcoming years is the personalization of intranet resources. The goal here is of course not the personalization as is, but to help provide a better and more relevant experience for every user, and planned activities cover:
- Handle global and local content in a way that provides relevant content to end-users. A common example is that users in a specific location only should be presented to the employee handbook valid in that country.
- Provide support for end-users to subscribe to new or updated content in selected intranet sections, communities, pages, documents, or content that hold a certain tag.
- Ask end-users to provide information on areas of interest in their user profile to be able to present recommended news, communities, or events.
Some organizations are also discussing the possibility of letting end-users configure what features should be displayed in a certain section of the start page. This is perhaps not a bad idea, even though our experience is that many users choose to not do that type of setting – if that is based on not having the need or not knowing how to can be discussed.
4. Frontline workers’ solutions – reach and include all users
During the past years, we have seen a shift within many organizations, from implementing solutions aimed at desk workers to now being focused on including frontline workers in any initiatives for improved communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.
These organizations can benefit from the fact that technology has evolved to make this a short step. But the even better news is that we see improvements regarding how to handle the typical frontline challenges, such as employees having no user account, no Microsoft license, no company-provided device, and little or no time to consume company content.
Our prediction is that we will see an increase in BYOD strategies and provide intranet content in a context that minimizes license costs. The customizable mobile apps mentioned above will naturally be a vital part of reaching and engaging frontline teams. We also see a growing use of QR codes to simplify for this type of audience, ’scan QR code to download the app’, ’scan QR code on larger screens to continue in mobile’, or ’scan QR code on warehouse shelves to access information on a specific product’.
5. Use communities of practice for improved knowledge-sharing
The respondents of the survey have highlighted that improved knowledge sharing is an area of huge interest. Many organizations are planning to use communities of practice to support structured knowledge sharing between colleagues, and they often see this as a way to build a joint knowledge base where employees can find advice and good practices to support daily work.
The basis for sharing knowledge internally seems to be discussions, shared documents, and blog posts or articles published within the community. But in the plans for upcoming solutions, we have also heard suggestions regarding easy findability of knowledge, the possibility to interact with content, and joint efforts to improve knowledge resources over time. A gold-plating of the solution could be to use a gamification framework where end-users can get activity points and earn community badges.
6. Close in on core processes to drive employee engagement
Several organizations are planning for improvements that will bring the intranet closer to core processes and business. One common example is to launch new concepts and features that can support challenges for HR, and at the same time bring value to end-users. We have seen plenty of examples of how an intranet can support the employee life cycle from pre-boarding to offboarding and the prioritized areas for the upcoming year seem to be:
- Set up an onboarding portal (and/or pre-boarding portal) with resources that can help new talent to a swift introduction to the organization.
- Implement support to develop new competencies, manage and administrate courses, micro-courses, and video courses, launch a learning center for easy access to courses, and display courses taken in a user profile.
- Highlight new colleagues, role changes, anniversaries, and people leaving the organization. Acknowledge employees for a job well done, examples can be ’employee of the month’ or top contributors in knowledge-sharing communities.
- Get a better understanding of employee voice by conducting polls and surveys. Set up channels for feedback and improvement suggestions.
All the examples above can be seen as actions to improve employee engagement, a field where HR often has a wide responsibility.
7. Improve the search experience to make it easier to find information
The next forecast could easily have been merged into the ’improve user experience’ trend above since using search to find intranet resources is vital if end-users are to get a good impression of the solution. However, we choose to list the search experience as a trend of its own since many organizations treat this as a separate track in their improvement plans.
When it comes to improving search, the most common activities planned for the upcoming year cover:
- Helping end-users to narrow the search scope by using search categories and refiners to make it easier to find information.
- Launch a possibility for end-users to provide feedback to a search administrator for future improvements.
- Ensure search statistics to learn about top search terms, commonly clicked search hits, abandoned searches, and zero searches.
- Provide the possibility for promoted search results and use stand-alone search applications (’find colleague’, ’find product’, etc.) to provide the best possible search experience.
8. Strengthen information policies and governance concepts
One of the fastest-growing concerns that we hear about is that the amount of content and resources grows by the day. Every intranet will most likely hold more pages, documents, posts, etc. than it did a month or a year ago. What makes this challenge truly important is that users will demand a continuously improved user experience.
To master this challenge, most organizations are planning to strengthen their governance concept with information policies, templates, metadata, workflows, archiving, etc. Following defined processes and life cycles will help manage content in a way that makes it possible to provide a great user experience, not only today but also in a year or two.
The two areas that most respondents say are prioritized are managing important business documents (policies, instructions, agreements, etc.) and improved governance for collaboration in Teams (see below).
9. Make collaboration in Microsoft Teams more effective
There is one aspect of collaboration in Teams that seems to be a top priority. Many organizations are looking for a way to combine the simplicity of Teams with the structures of their governance models. This is especially true for internal projects often hosted in one or several Teams, where users often request more effective support in using project models, document templates, mandatory tasks, and how to let colleagues know about the project – or even that there is such a project presently ongoing.
Some prioritized needs for 2023 seem to be implementing improved support for using official project models in Teams, setting up properties, policies, and templates for new Teams, integration with other Microsoft 365 tools, and supplying a structured project portfolio.
10. Evaluate intranet performance with enhanced analytics
Finally, the last trend might be one of the most important for the respondents. Since it is common that the C-level wants to see stronger evidence of return on intranet investments, we expect strong development in the analytics area.
Not only must organizations be able to show metrics on intranet usage, content reach, and employee satisfaction. The metrics should be compared with targets and entwined with evaluating the application, adjusting strategies, and deciding on roadmaps.
What will (most likely) not be a trend in 2023?
Even though we have heard about notable progress in the chatbots area, we are not expecting this to be an intranet trend in 2023. Neither did any of the respondents expect intranet improvements based on AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, voice recognition, or machine learning. So, several of the ‘buzz word areas’ in the market have to wait at least another year to become actual trends or see activities being planned for the upcoming year.
However, we expect to see the first signs of AI moving into intranet products during 2023, most likely when it comes to creating simple content or improving text in news articles and on information pages. The question is if customers will adopt these new possibilities - our guess is that we will see that happening in 2024.
The only suggestion regarding infrastructure or the purely technical aspect of the intranet was questioning if online hosting and the cloud model actually are more cost-effective than the old on-premises setup. We do not expect organizations to start leaving the cloud in the upcoming year, but maybe some will start to investigate this question.
So, there you have the ten trends that we predict you will see and hear about in the upcoming year.
If you are interested in learning more about some of the areas commented on above, please take part in the knowledge resources below. Or why not contact us to find out more about what Omnia can do for your organization – and how our product matches the trends for 2023?
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