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Putting a Modern Spin on the Good Ol’ Intranet

Olha Romaniuk Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

Image: Olha Romaniuk - Alamy Stock Photo
As I noted in my previous WorkSpace Connect post, employee experience spending looks strong for 2023, chiefly driven by the need to bolster initiatives in support of the hybrid workplace. What I didn’t mention in that piece, but will explore now, is the rising importance of the intranet turned digital workplace for the new way of work .
The concept of the intranet dates back to the mid-1990s, the term coined to reflect a company-only version of the wild and wooly Internet. Starting with the intranet homepage, would be a place where employees could do things like look up a colleague’s phone number via a corporate directory, find information on corporate policies and benefits, and search for product literature.
While the modern intranet still serves the purpose of providing access to information, its brief has expanded to also enabling employee interactions and encouraging engagement (and toward this latter point, often blurs with the role of social software). And, while once intranet access was only available via the desktop, today’s offerings are cloud-based and available as mobile apps, too, so that all types of employees, including frontline workers, can participate. Typically, the mobile app would have the same functionality as the desktop version, be that directory access, content discovery, and/or community engagement.
The mobile app, in fact, is the top-most used feature for the 250 companies that participated in Metrigy’s global Employee Experience & Workforce Engagement 2022-23 research study and have an intranet/digital workplace today. People directories are still high on the feature list, as are homepages—though more employee-customizable than in those early days—as shown in the graphic below. Forums, communities, and social software fulfill the interaction and engagement roles noted above.


Image: Metrigy’s Employee Experience & Workforce Engagement 2022-23
Increasingly, the intranet/digital workplace is available as part of an employee experience platform, if not also as a point product. Intranet/digital workplace apps are available from a host of providers, each of them putting their own modern spins on the traditional product category. Here are a few examples:
Haiilo – This company, and its same-named employee experience platform, came together this year from the merger of COYO, Jubiwee, and Smarp —three European companies offering employee communications and engagement, people analytics and survey, and advocacy software. The Haiilo platform brings together the previously disparate communications, information access, engagement, listening, and employee advocacy apps from COYO, Jubiwee, and Smarp to provide a full view on employee communications and engagement.
One piece of the platform is Connect , modern intranet software enabling people to connect with each other, tap into information they need for their jobs, and engage with each other in communities built from the top down or bottom up around shared interests. Connect is one of four components available via the platform. The others are Communicate, for top-down communications; Understand, for employee listening/surveys; and Activate, to support employee advocacy. Haiilo continues to support each of these four in their original standalone app form, but encourages new customers to take a platform approach and existing customers to evolve toward that.
Haiilo has a global customer base, with vertical strengths in healthcare, professional services, and tech companies. The sweet spot is 5,000 to 15,000 employees, with smaller companies more interested in the platform approach and larger companies more inclined to purchase point products.
Happeo – Historically, the five-year-old Happeo offered an intranet app focused on companies using Google Workspace, providing an integration aimed at helping solve the “information chaos” of Drive by establishing a searchable central source of truth. In June, Happeo extended into the Microsoft sphere, and now offers a searchable intranet that integrates with Microsoft 365. Employees can import documents from OneDrive and SharePoint, for example.
With Happeo, companies get access to a page builder tool that allows for drag-and-drop content management; a channels feature that enables community building and engagement; a people directory, which includes organizational charts, profiles, skills, and more; and search of organizational data and files.
Happeo targets midmarket companies, roughly ranging in size from 500 to 5,000 employees, in software-based verticals such as education, professional services, and tech. Regionally, its primary focus is North America followed by Europe.
LumApps – Over the years, LumApps has morphed from intranet to employee experience platform. Increasingly, its focus is on personalizing each employee’s experience with content and communications, and similar to Happeo’s goal, becoming the single source of truth—pushing content/conversations from other applications, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, into its searchable content repository/knowledge base. In addition, employees can share and interact via the intranet portal, with content including posts, polls, images, and videos.
One of LumApp’s specialties is hyper-personalization, relying on an orchestration engine to determine which information is most relevant for a user or group of users and how and when to best deliver that information. Additionally, companies with multiple brands can use the platform to customize portals for each. LumApps also supports a host of integrations, whether core to the platform for collaboration, identity, and other services; off-the-shelf connectors to business apps, services, and workflows for HR and other processes; or via custom development using its application programming interfaces and software developer kit.
LumApps is particularly suitable for enterprise-sized companies, of 10,000 or more employees, across a variety of verticals.
Companies considering adding intranet/digital workplace apps to their employee experience initiatives should vet companies such as these with an eye on whether they want standalone or integrated capabilities . Other intranet providers to take a look at include Akumina, Microsoft (SharePoint and Viva Engage), Simpplr, Unily, among others.