Is Your Company Intranet Ready to Go Mobile?

Submitted by on Wed, 03/23/16


Has the age of the mobile intranet arrived? Unfortunately, the answer to that question remains …no, not really.

While companies are shifting to ever more flexible work arrangements for their employees—including allowing them to work remotely or while traveling (and mobile technology is playing an increasingly important role in the success of that shift)—it seems the company intranet is not keeping pace.

By and large, businesses have yet to figure out how to create a dynamic, responsive intranet, one that provides employees with quick, easy access to company information.

According to numerous articles and blogs on the topic, progress on the mobile intranet front has been slow in organizations. And that fact is not expected to change much in 2016.

What is clear however, is the value of getting the company intranet up to speed with today’s tech savvy, and increasingly remote, workforce.

A study from Tribe Inc., found that a mobile intranet is key to bridging the gap between in-house employees and those who work remotely. Tribe’s report states that a mobile intranet is the best option for providing non-desk employees with access to all the information their office counterparts receive. That’s because, as the report notes:

  • Most non-desk populations are more likely to own a smartphone than a home computer, which is yet another reason more companies are building new intranets to be accessible on mobile devices.
  • 33% of the non-desk employees surveyed by Tribe access their company intranet from their mobile device

The report goes on to note that engaging non-desk employees in company culture, vision and values remains a huge challenge, one that modern mobile communications are starting to resolve.

Taking the company intranet mobile requires that internal communications teams address many critical questions, such as what part of the company intranet should be converted for mobile—all of it, or just essential areas? Or, should the company opt to extend intranet content into an app? And, what are the most common employee uses for a mobile-friendly intranet?Young adult using a smart phone

How Intranets are Currently Being Used
Traditionally, the company intranet is used as a portal for everything from file sharing, to providing employee contact information, to posting company news and HR forms.

In addition, intranets have historically tended to focus on serving those workers based in offices, in large part because it was easiest for such employees to access the intranet from their workstation computers.

All of which typically means workers beyond the corporate office—field reps, technicians, sales force members, retail workers and the like—are often poorly served. And as one blogger recently asked—are these employees second class citizens when it comes to being part of the company’s employee engagement efforts and corporate communications?

Employees should ideally have access to the information, people and tools they need to do their jobs no matter where they’re sitting or doing their work.

What’s more, Fortune magazine reported a few years ago that 84% of non-desk workers say they don’t get enough information from top management. An intranet that is easily accessed from a mobile device used by a remote worker, would help change this fact.

The benefits of a mobile optimized intranet, according to many in the tech world, include:

  • Employees being able to easily create and share information
  • The possibility of faster decision making
  • Greater innovation
  • Increased knowledge sharing
  • Improved employee engagement.

ESNs – Enterprise Social Networks
By many accounts, another key part of the equation when it comes to engaging employees and providing easier access to corporate communications, information and collaboration, is the enterprise social network—tools with names like Jam, Jive, Yammer, and Slack.

The leading collaboration platforms provide another way for employees to communicate across departments, locations, devices or applications.

Slack for instance, is an enterprise communication app from Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield that provides a centralized group chat platform. It also offers advanced search and file-sharing functionalities, and can be linked to third-party apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Twitter. The app is used by numerous start-ups and large, well-known companies including Buzzfeed, Dow Jones, eBay and HBO. It is favored by companies because of its ease of use and ability to integrate with other services.

Microsoft’s Yammer meanwhile, cannot be ignored. It provides a semi-private environment for meeting people and conversing across many different teams, and ties in closely with Office 365.

There are many others in this field as well. But as one article so accurately noted—the takeaway here is that mobile and social platforms are merely vehicles powering remote collaboration. And both should be used to help your workforce get the job done.

Intranets Going Mobile
So what does the future look like when it comes to company intranets, remote collaboration and mobility?

Some predict 2016 will see more companies becoming comfortable with cloud based intranet solutions, an approach that can be cost-effective and would not require enormous IT staff support.

The best 21st century intranets will also be less content heavy, more interactive, stylishly designed, and relevant to the employee.

And the thread throughout all of this, brings us back to where we started—the increasing shift toward, (or perhaps the overdue need for) better mobile access.

Good intranet access from a mobile device will have multiple advantages including supporting employees on the go and providing a more convenient way to consume information and interact.

Or as that Tribe report importantly noted, “Non-desk workers can have a tremendous impact on the customer experience, inside and outside the organization. Whether the customer is an individual consumer, an internal customer or a business, they’re interacting with those non-desk workers daily. Not engaging your frontline employees in the vision of the company to make them feel part of something bigger could be a big miss. After all, it’s up to these employees to deliver on your brand promise.”

Bottom line—mobile devices are now an essential way to reach your workforce.

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