The corporate intranet market is in the early stages of being disrupted. And about time – this is a mission-critical sector where software has failed to reach its potential because the incumbent products fail to engage users. However, some radically new approaches are emerging:
1. Messaging as a platform
The concept here is the use of instant messaging (chat) as a platform that integrates easily into many different apps. This allows individuals to create their own networks and toolsets with consolidated notifications. This is an elegant, flexible approach that works well at the team level. The disruptor here is Slack, reporting very rapid user adoption.
2. The organization as a platform
The concept here is to create a platform that clarifies workplace teams, makes internal communication happen at all levels ( , ), and surfaces information/expertise across the organization. For dispersed organizations, this platform becomes the most tangible realization of the company itself – the go-to place to participate in the workplace culture, understand organizational goals, and celebrate successes. The disruptor here is Jostle, reporting very high org-wide participation levels at 5X industry norms.
An important aspect of both these new approaches is that they are turnkey and easy to implement. This ensures great navigation and usability that cannot be broken by IT bolting on new widgets.
The old approaches are picking up the challenge and evolving to stay competitive:
3. Template-based platforms
These are traditional intranet platforms based on widgets and templates (SharePoint, Igloo, Interact Intranet, etc.). Vendors are adding in social tools and modernizing their look and feel. However, the underlying content-focused approach remains prone to stale content, broken navigation and poor usability.
4. Grand systems
These are big platforms that massively change how work gets done (Jive, IBM Connections, etc.). Rolling them out is akin to implementing an ERP system, requiring processes to change and data to move. As enterprise software shifts to become more app like (teams choosing the tools they prefer) it will be interesting to see how these platforms evolve.
What will happen over the next 5 years?
Most companies have grown complacent with the very low participation rates in their employee intranets (often under 10%), so it will take time for this market to shift to the new approaches. Over the next five years, there will be a substantive shift away from the toolkit (SharePoint) and widget-based approaches, with almost all new intranet implementations being cloud-based and easier to implement and maintain. Hopefully by then the average employee participation rate will improve from under 10 to over 90%. Some companies are already achieving 100% using the new approaches led by Jostle.