Is #intranet news, old news?
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.
Why Internal Comms is the most important function of an intranet – Rachel Miller
The amount of noise in organisations is rife, with everyone wanting to have their say and pitch their messages on the real estate homepage of the intranet. If ‘control’ of the homepage is given to more than one function, there is often a scattergun approach of firing messages at employees in the hope they will stick and land effectively. I think it goes without saying that this doesn’t work!
I was asked to write a post about why I think internal comms is the most important function of an intranet. Intranets traditionally are ‘owned’ by Comms teams, who are often the main stakeholders and use most of the homepage. However without a well-designed site and strong partnership with IT, who can help translate Comms requirements into reality, you’re fighting a losing battle.
One of the predictions on this blog for 2012 was that ‘news will no longer be the star of the intranet family and that intranets are fast becoming about much more than Comms as they will help people with the actual process of doing their job’. With that in mind, the prediction is that Comms will no longer be the main stakeholder for the intranet and their messaging may not have the majority of homepage real estate.
I believe Comms to be the champions and guardians of messaging, particularly when it comes to ‘policing’ the various messages mentioned previously, to ensure consistency of approach and to weed out the irrelevant noise. I think if an organisation loses that overview, be that from Comms or IT, it is in danger of simply firing conflicting messages at its employees.
I agree that intranets are becoming much more than Comms and I welcome that. It’s vital that organisations adapt, evolve and flex their approaches to deliver an effective intranet that employees want to visit as it has information that isn’t solely corporate key messages.
Equipping employees in ‘the actual process of doing their job’ is exactly what good internal communication is all about. Therefore it’s a crucial part of an intranet’s function. News often appears as the star of intranets, certainly if you’re measuring perceived value by the space used. I think if an intranet becomes purely a useful dashboard to enable employees to do their job, without including a news element, it will lose the jewel in its crown. I think that good, reliable, credible news sources that help employees feel connected to and part of an organisation will always have a role.
News has had its day on the intranet – Jonathan Phillips (DigitalJonathan)
The story of intranets is one of aggregation: like technology magpies, intranets have added functionality steadily over the course of the last 15 years. First they were simple communication spaces, then many added transactional elements and more recently, social functionality has become the norm. Intranets constantly evolve to mirror the changing organisation that they serve and yet, they’ve broadly evolved along these similar lines.
News — or other internal communication messaging — was likely central to the business case for creating your organisations initial intranet, but its time as the lead feature has long since gone. News, is old.
We are reminded by the staggering growth in internet social media and by intranet trend reports, that employees are increasingly turning to social channels in their personal and professional lives. News is in decline; social media is in rude health and intranet news is slowly going the way of newspapers. The trouble is that news on an intranet has been through countless rewrites, undoubted legal review, executive sign-off and possibly translation which means it doesn’t hit the intranet with the anything like the immediacy, or potency of social sources. Social gives employees the real truth, quicker. News is not as trusted.
Intranets are no longer the sole preserve of internal communications. They’re distinctly richer for the aggregation of collaboration tools, knowledge stores and likely, HR transactions. Intranet news is rarely a destination for employees, but a welcome and valuable distraction from the real business of an intranet which, simply, is to help people do their jobs. However good your internal communications team, employees don’t care about news in the same way they care about viewing a payslip or connecting with colleagues. News doesn’t give the same tangible return as other intranet features for the employee or management. Ever heard an employee say “Hold on — I must read the internal news”? This author hasn’t.
With news not as immediate or as valued as the social serendipitous sources for employees, there is serious risk that news will not remain on intranet homepages for much longer. The death knell might be technology itself. Whilst screen resolutions and average monitor sizes in companies have increased, intranet real estate remains limited. Mathematically, if your intranet is to continue to add new features, something’s going to have to give way and with ROI difficult to prove, news would be the likely candidate. Move it down the homepage, maybe move it off the homepage — it’s place of prominence is likely over.
Let us know, vote and share your thoughts in the comments section.
Photo credit: rorycellan