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Jul 09, 2019

Approx. 9 min. read

Intranet Definition, Disadvantages and More Efficient Alternatives

Intranet is a software solution used to share company information and resources among employees. In addition, intranets are used to facilitate...

Intranet is a software solution used to share company information and resources among employees. In addition, intranets are used to facilitate working in groups and to improve the overall internal communications efforts. 

What is an Intranet?

We can look at Intranet as a smaller, private version of Internet which can be accessed only by organizations’ employees. Intranet is intended only for organization and its employees, and it is often heavily protected from unauthorized access, as it should be. 

Over the last two decades Intranet became a popular way of sharing information and communicating more effectively. Intranet network can provide users with many different functionalities such as centralized document repository, custom forms and social networking tools. 

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Even though Intranet connects different parts of a business and enables employees to share information, more advanced solutions have evolved. 

So are Intranets dead and what are its alternatives?

Are Intranets Dead?

Intranet can be used in many ways and for different reasons. The two most common reasons to use Intranet include:

  • more effective communication and collaboration between employees and 
  • easier access to documents and information

The way a company uses Intranet depends on the organization's needs, wants and challenges. 

However, since Intranets have been in the market for decades now, they have many disadvantages compared to modern solutions that are designed to improve employee engagement and advocacy. 

According to research by Simpplr, these are just a few reasons why Intranets fail

reasons why intranets fail

Therefore, should we consider Intranets outdated? Do they still provide value? What are some modern Intranet alternatives?

Find out why most employers are turning to more efficient employee communication and advocacy tools.

Intranet Disadvantages

When there were no other tools to connect employees in an organization, Intranets seemed to do the job- improve communication between employees. However, employers are slowly switching to newer solutions with more features and benefits

Millennials and generations Z are now looking to use more user-friendly, intuitive and fun communication tools. 

Top 10 Intranet Disadvantages

Here are just a few reasons why organizations are moving away from Intranets and switching to new solutions. 

1. Costly and timely implementation

Intranet can be very costly and time-consuming to implement. Often times, older Intranet software are complex to use. Therefore, all employees need to understand all the features available in order to use it effectively. 

This requires long and complex employee onboarding caused by not so user-friendly Intranet interfaces. 

In addition to implementation, Intranets need to be regularly maintained. In fact, many companies have full-time staff taking care of Intranet updates, server upgrades, network maintenance, system improvements and modifications. 

2. Complexity and heavy admin burden

Intranets have a reputation for being complex and cumbersome. Consequently, employees often feel overwhelmed. 

In addition, Intranet users often have heavy administrative burden causing additional time waste. 

3. Poor user experience

Because Intranets are not very intuitive to use, user experience suffers. Consequently, employees struggle to use Intranets in a way that can really optimize their work and access to relevant information. 

4. Low user adoption

Poor user experience results in low usage rates. We all know how important user experience is to keep your users engaged and active. 

In fact, a survey by Prescient Digital Media proved that only 13% of employees reported participating in their Intranet daily—31% said they never do.

5. Time-consuming information search

Even though intranets are made to make information search easier and faster, too much irrelevant information can cause big problems. Uploading excessive amount of unorganized information can be counterproductive and create confusion among employees. 

Additionally, if the information is not organized and cannot be easily navigated, your employees could be missing on important information and decrease productivity.

slow information search with intranets

6. Decreased employee productivity

Poor Intranet user experience leads to lower employee productivity. Moreover, when information cannot be easily navigated and found, employee productivity drops and Intranets have a complete contra-effect.

7. Internal use only 

Intranets can only be used for internal purposes. In other words, employees can not share content to external parties or Social Media. 

This is a big Intranet disadvantage because the companies that encourage external content sharing have much higher content marketing ROI

8. Lack of employee advocacy

Because intranets can be used only internally, many employers who want to boost employee advocacy are turning to more modern communication platforms. 

If you have employees who would like to share interesting content about your company and build your brand awareness, why not enable them to do so?

9. Hard to measure success and effectiveness

Most Intranets don’t have robust and useful analytics modules. Therefore, internal comms professionals are unable to measure internal comms effectiveness and performance.

According to IABC, 60% of internal comms specialists do not measure their internal comms methods and strategies.  

10. Lack of creativity and fun

Modern workplaces strive to have a fun organizational culture. Internal comms play a crucial role in that. According to research on creativity in internal comms, 93% of communicators acknowledge the importance of creativity in internal comms. However, only 6% think it’s used to its full potential. 

For example, only 20% of employers use gamification in internal comms, but half of them plan to work on incorporating further usage into comms strategies.

More Efficient Intranet Alternatives

Intranets are outdated. Most Intranet interfaces are not user-friendly, they don’t increase employee engagement and they don’t encourage employee advocacy

On the other hand, more advanced employee engagement solutions often lead to natural employee advocacy

Newer and modern employee engagement platforms have many new features from which employers can benefit much more compared to Intranets

Advanced Intranet alternatives include employee communication and collaboration software, creative social Intranets and employee advocacy tools

Let’s take a deep dive into modern employee communication and advocacy tools

13 Benefits of Employee Engagement and Advocacy Tools

Employee engagement and employee advocacy tools are more advanced solutions than Intranets. They have additional features and user-friendly interface that help easy adoption and implementation

Here are some of the benefits that Intranet alternatives offer

1. Easy implementation

Compared to Intranets, modern employee engagement and communication tools are much easier to implement and maintain. 

Since they are usually cloud based, SaaS solutions, new features are much easier to implement and are more accessible. 

2. User-friendly interface

While most Intranets’ interfaces are not user-friendly, modern employee engagement platforms provide a much better user experience

Would you rather use something like this?

intranets and poor user experience

...or like this?

alternatives-to-intranet-to-improve-collaboration-and-employee-productivity

3. Eliminates the need for searching

As mentioned earlier, employees spend, on average, 2.5 hours searching for relevant information

Just imagine if your employees could always get the right information at the right time without even having to look for it. 

We call that the #NoSearching Revolution, and  exactly that is the goal of a modern communication tool like Smarp.  

4. Better employee experience

With the more intuitive interface and easy information access, comes better employee experience. Better user experience means increased usage, faster adoption, fewer expenses spent on implementation and training as well as higher ROI. 

5. Personalization and content management

Here at Smarp, we are determined to the #NoSearching revolution. What that means is that we want to deliver information to employees before they even know they need it, without having to search for it. 

In order to be able to deliver such experience, content personalization is a must-have

Not all the information needs to get to everyone. Employees should be able to easily filter content relevant to their work and interest. 

Excessive flow of irrelevant information has a negative effect on employee productivity and engagement. 

Software should adapt to the user, not the other way around!

6. More knowledge sharing

Intranet is not a software designed to ease knowledge sharing among employees. In contrary, modern communication and collaboration solutions encourage employees to share relevant educational content to their coworkers. 

7. Employee development

With knowledge sharing comes employee development. Internal employee development is one of the main goals employers are trying to achieve and engagement tools can help them do so.  

8. More employee engagement

As we mentioned earlier, Intranets have a very low adoption caused by poor user experience. Consequently, it is very hard to engage employees and really make communication strategy efficient. 

Moreover, low employee engagement leads to low employee productivity. 

9. Improved employee productivity

Employee engagement and collaboration tools enables employees to quickly access information that is relevant to their tasks and duties. By using simple browser and intuitive search functions, employees can access organization's content from anywhere and can collaborate better. 

This increases the ability for employees to do their job more precisely, faster and with confidence that the information is credible.

employee engagement and productivity

10. Employee advocacy

As its name suggests, Intranet is a software made for internal use only. On the other hand, employers are more and more relying on their employees to become advocates. They want them to share company’s content to the outside world and build more company awareness

Modern employee comms solutions enable employees to become advocates because the ROI of employee advocacy is significant. 

11. Social Selling

Employee engagement and advocacy not only helps improve brand awareness but also sales and productivity

Think of all of your employees’ connections that could be reached on Social Media if your employees were sharing the company’s content to the outside world. 

Not sure about the power of employee advocacy? Check out our guide about how employee advocacy helps social selling.

intranets lack social selling features

12. Gamification

Advocates should be rewarded! If you have employees who proudly share your company's content with their own connections, reward them to encourage those actions. 

Intranet alternatives are much better in offering a more fun way to measure and support employee advocacy. 

13. Analytics and reports

Measuring employee engagement in internal comms is crucial for improvement. Intranet software often does not offer analytics that can really give useful insights into internal comms strategies. 

On the contrary, here is an example of a more modern and intuitive report from a modern employee comms solution. 

employee engagement reports and analytics

Intranet synonyms

There are many different types of tools used to improve employee communications and collaboration. 

However, it is important to understand that not all these software solutions have the same features and capabilities. 

Even though the following tools are not really Intranet synonyms, they are considered as more advanced alternatives:

  • Employee collaboration software
  • Employee communication software
  • Team collaboration software
  • Employee advocacy software
  • Social Intranet software
  • Employee engagement software

Smarp as a Smart Intranet Alternative

Smarp is a software used by companies across the world not only to help employee engagement but to boost employee advocacy

In general, advocacy comes with engagement and employee satisfaction. In order to succeed in employee advocacy, companies must be ready to transform their internal comms strategies and really deliver relevant content to the right employees at the right time

Smarp users have managed to do so, and this is what happened. 

Schedule a Smarp demo today and see how it can help you engage your employees!

Written by

Kristina Martic

Kristina Martic

Digital Marketing and Employer Branding

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