More than 40 years ago, a group of business leaders speculated about what the workplace of the future would look like. George E. Pake of Xerox Corp. predicted he’d have a TV monitor sitting on his desk on which he could receive mail or messages and call up documents from his files with the press of a button.
These new technologies promised to help streamline business processes and boost employee productivity—and they did. But enterprises didn’t stop there. Soon, they found out how much time employees were wasting on email. They uncovered the information silos impeding collaboration and growth. They hungered for tools to help them further hone their work processes.
“In an economy where companies run on single-digit margins, the quest for ‘quicker and better’ is nearly infinite,” says Techcrunch.
Today this quest is fueling a fast-growing, $29 billion global market for enterprise collaboration technologies, encompassing everything from collaboration platforms to social networking tools to corporate intranets—and they’re changing the way employees work. Now the TV monitors are disappearing and we’re calling up documents and collaborating with colleagues via digital portals that deliver work to wherever we are, on whatever device or platform we are using.
This isn’t a future 40 years away. It’s happening here and now, and it’s redefining what it means to be productive at work.
When we think of cutting-edge enterprise technologies, the company intranet isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind.
We’re more likely to think of flashier tools such as Slack, the real-time messaging platform that integrates with other popular collaboration tools like Trello. Platforms like these have demonstrated how quickly apps can catch on when they genuinely make work better, faster, and easier for employees. As more businesses lean on tools such as Slack and Trello, “IT leaders are looking to deploy a new breed of collaboration tools company-wide to boost productivity and connect disparate teams,” says Computer World.
For many enterprises, the employee intranet has become a hub for these new collaborative tools. Initially developed as a way to gather employee information together into one place, the intranet has taken on more functionality over the years, evolving first into a help desk, with simple tools like staff directories, and then into a self-service launching pad where employees could find where tasks and other transactions happen, and connect to those applications directly.
Now the intranet is evolving again. Emerging solutions are transforming intranets into modern work platforms where employees can complete work tasks and access information across all of their company’s systems from a single place. They bring in consumer-like experiences, including push notifications and personalization, to ensure employees only see the information that matters most to them. No longer just a place for passively storing information, these new intranet portals are becoming a digital hub for the entire workforce, enabling work to be easily completed wherever employees are. It’s a massive paradigm shift.
“Today’s intranet portals are at the epicenter of the enterprise universe,” says UX research firm Nielsen Norman Group. “They provide utility and usability, featuring all or most necessities for employees’ success…As organizations inch toward a digital workplace, intranet portals are beginning to serve as the hub of the corporate wheel, providing spokes of information and applications serve diverse and increasingly dispersed workforces.”
As IT developers seek to modernize their enterprise software to support a digital workplace strategy, employee intranets will be a major focus moving forward. That is why is it no surprise that 87 percent of businesses plan to put effort into upgrading or enhancing their intranets this year—more than half will expend a significant amount of effort.
In their quest for new enterprise technologies, the most important factor to focus on is employee productivity and satisfaction, says Nielsen Norman Group. “If the portal offers users tools to help employees get the job done, they’ll be back again and again. When done well, even basic tools can be a key driver for user satisfaction and increased portal adoption.”