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Intranet Trends for 2013 and Beyond

Now that we’re in the second half of 2013, it’s interesting to come across articles like a previous post entitled, “5 intranet trends for 2013 and beyond” by Guy van Leemput.

This post is actually a reflection on van Leemput’s earlier post on intranet trends published two years ago in 2011. At the time, some of the trends he identified didn’t actually pan out. Mobile access is one of them.

I can attest that 99% of those who approach us looking for an intranet solution wants their intranet to have mobile accessibility. However, van Leemput points out that this feature remains in the planning stage for most.

Instead, he says the following are the intranet trends he has seen emerging this year and into the future:

1. Integration

By this he’s referring to the integration of different business systems into a single portal or entry point for employees. van Leemput admits this is hardly a new trend, but this year he’s seeing that companies are truly serious about accomplishing the one-stop portal, because its absence costs them a lot in lost productivity and unhappy employees.

The all-in-one portal has always been one of Noodle intranet’s selling points. Communication, collaboration, and productivity tools come together in Noodle intranet right out of the box. Web-based applications can be “integrated” through the external links feature — a functionality that allows employees to access external websites from within their Noodle intranets.

2. Unlocking tacit knowledge

In my previous workplace, every time an employee retired or resigned, we would lose years and years of that person’s wisdom. This means the organization lost priceless amounts of knowledge, because the ones who are left behind have to find things out themselves through trial and error. Sometimes, they never figure things out.

Today’s intranets have all the tools to capture this “organizational intelligence.” It would be nice if all specialists published a blog with their insights and experiences. However, the truth is, blogging takes time and effort — resources most experts don’t have.

But there are other tools staff can share, access, and find knowledge from each other. For example, Noodle intranet has a Question and Answer application, as well as a Discussion Forum application. With these tools, all this hidden knowledge can be put into a page, archived, and fully searchable, long after the contributors have left the company.

3. Delivering business value

For me this is the most exciting trend in intranets: the ability of companies to create tools that contribute directly to their bottom lines. van Leemput’s examples include Omron’s prospect navigator. This custom tool uses Google maps to help sales people combine customer visits in a single trip. The other example is Novozyme’s online ideation tool for stimulating innovation.

Obviously, there is no single application for this trend. What’s important is to identify mission-critical processes and build an intranet application or workflow around it. It would be exciting to see how Noodle users have done this with the applications available to them.

4. Search

The demand for good intranet search continues, and users want nothing more than for their intranet search to be as good as Google. Admittedly, we’re not there yet, but intranet search has improved and will only get better.

5. SharePoint 2013 is the breakthrough release

van Leemput is most confident about this prediction, that SharePoint will continue to dominate the intranet market.

Meantime, we continue to be approached by prospects and clients who are looking for alternatives to SharePoint. Of course, no single solution is right for every body all the time. SharePoint 2013 is there for organizations that need the features it offers and have the resources to implement it. But for those who don’t, alternatives like Noodle exist.

My own observation is more and more companies are looking for intranet solutions that are user-friendly, sensible, and can be implemented fast with the least amount of pain. Even in large companies, IT teams are over-burdened enough as it is. Organizations want to be able to hit the ground running with their new intranets, not spend months and millions of dollars crafting and rolling out the perfect intranet.

What do you think are the intranet trends for 2013 and beyond? What features are in high demand among your users? What do you wish you could do in your intranet that you’re not able to do right now?