Will Apps Kill Your Intranet?

by Inspiring Interns

Back in the 1990’s, having a company intranet was a sign of a forward-thinking, using new technologies to bring their staff together with useful information. With the world wide web expanding out of control (Google dubbed it, ‘the wild west’) companies sought to keep their employees away from the frontier and instead keep them safe on an internal network.

It was a great innovation, allowing email, voice and video communication, and the hosting of private information. In the intervening time, having an intranet has become standard, and companies use them for a wide range of business-related activities. But, the world has change a lot since then.

Mobile Technology

In the 90’s, home computers were unusual, and laptops were only for serious professionals. Now? Most of us carry a computer around with us all the time; our smart phones. The rise of the mobile internet has changed many things over the last decade; now many consumers use their phones in a store to check they are getting the best price. And who doesn’t ask around the table at dinner to see who has the best discount code for your chosen restaurant?

We’ve become used to using apps for everything; personal fitness, banking, ordering pizza, submitting meter readings and of course, playing games. So perhaps it’s no surprise that a recent survey reported that almost three quarters of those questioned want their employers to offer the same sort of technology they use in their personal lives.

An App for Everything

A report, published by Salesforce, titled, ‘State of the Connected Customer’ has pulled together research several sources to investigate how apps could raise productivity by making the companies own content more engaging to staff.  The report came up with five key areas in which they felt apps would have the biggest impact:

  1. Streamlining the Onboarding Process: Giving new staff an app to help them find their way around, know who’s who, complete mandatory training and more.
  2. Training: If your company had online training courses available, then staff could take control of their own development. Working on their own time to gain skills to allow them to progress through the company.
  3. Communication with HR: Apps could be used for things like reporting absence or submitting requests for time off.
  4. Building Belonging: Keep your staff in touch with what is going on, to help them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Broadcast messages to your staff, including videos or coverage of press events live.
  5. Communication: What else are smart phones for? Let your staff communicate with each other via text or video call in the way they’ve become used to; using their smart phone.

Facilitating Flexible Working

Having corporate apps is another step in the direction of mobile working. If vital company functions are now carried out via an app on your phone, why would you need to be in the office. With the many benefits of remote working, it has become the fastest growing sector for employment in the US. More than 80% of employees say that they’d like to work from home, at least some of the time however as things stand, only around a quarter of roles are suitable for telecommuting. Could apps be the step-change needed to make mobile working a reality for more people?

The Death of the Intranet?

It isn’t only the move towards mobile technology and apps that are spelling the death of the intranet. With improved internet security and the rise of cloud-based Software as a Service solutions, companies are more comfortable with having their data on the web than ever before.

Perhaps the real killer, though, has been the fact that intranets haven’t really come that far since their launch in the 90’s. As companies have learnt the value of Big Data, more and more of the analysis of that information has been outsourced to specialists, again taking employees away from the intranet.

And if no one is using an intranet, is there really any need for one?

Whilst we may not be able to lay the demise of the intranet entirely at the door of mobile technology, it does seem that it’s time for companies to be making a change. And if not to apps, then what? Without a doubt, smart phones and mobile technology are the best way to engage people right now, as demonstrated by the millions being invested in mobile marketing. It makes sense, then, to follow the trend and find your people where they want be: On an app.