5 Predicted Intranet Trends You Can Expect in 2016

October 29, 2015
Robin Dominik Havre
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Things are moving fast in the intranet world right now.

We’ve seen many changes to intranet technology over the past couple of years. The adoption of social intranets has been one major change, and there are one or two more just around the corner.

Those of you who remember the intranets of old with their incredibly limited features and largely theoretical productivity gains will be especially familiar with the progress we’ve made. Can things get even better?

With 2016 rapidly approaching and, since getting work done is so tough with everybody desperately using up their holiday allowances before the end of the year, why not get ahead of the curve with next year’s major intranet trends you’re likely to see.

1. Internet of Things comes to intranet

For those unfamiliar with the Internet of Things, let’s look to Wikipedia for a definition:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.”

Put another way, it means everyday objects such as refrigerators, houses or even packages in the mail can be connected to the internet so you can monitor their contents, progress, status and just about any other metric you can think of.

This is particularly important for companies with supply chains such as the construction industry. With shipments of building materials and other goods moving through automated systems all connected online, it’s easy to then feed supply chain progress to intranets so appropriate employees can easily see in real time how goods are moving and how their status will affect completion targets throughout a build.

This IoT technology is now becoming more established in 2016, and it’s likely to be the year we see it making a more significant difference to intranets.

2. Better search features

We’ve highlighted the critical nature of a solid search feature before here on the blog. It’s as critical to implement as it is a notoriously tricky task to get right. Great evidence of this came back in 2013 when Nielsen Norman Group published an article on how a solid search feature can save half $1 million for the average company. Mercifully, things are getting better each year.

While we can expect to see better search intranets next year, it’s largely down to a greater awareness of the importance of search. Better processes are in place and more resources are being allocated to improving intranet search and creating metadata that helps employees find what they need.

Companies are more aware now of the importance of taking the time, they’re more aware of the productivity gains on the table and there’s great content out there on how to better implement search with intranet.

3. Increased cloud integration

Over the past few years, cloud computing has exploded. One article published recently by Forbes shows a compilation of predictions from various top-tier market research groups with the unanimous forecast showing even more growth yet to come.

While the “intra” part of intranet suggests that the system is inherently “internal”, that doesn’t mean data can be stored, processed and/or managed off-site. Many businesses are setting up private clouds, too. But, if you’re considering this, be warned there are several things you need to get right if you wanted to succeed.

Either way, as 2016 budgets free up, we’ll see more allocated to cloud technology and potentially even some interesting products and strategies that utilise it more effectively with intranets.

4. Improved collaboration tools

We’ve also discussed before on the blog about how various software products can help facilitate better intranet and internal communications.

Along with the explosion in cloud computing has come the explosion in the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector. There are a great many collaboration tools with the potential to improve productivity over the intranet, and next year, you can expect to see more than ever.

Developers who have experience in product integration using API’s may be reaching for the Ibuprofen at this point. But, once everything is set up and running, we can expect more feature-filled intranets with integrated collaboration tools such as project management SaaS, Slack.

The tools you get will depend on your type of business and its goals. But, this change is surely just on the horizon.

5. Simpler, more effective UI’s than ever

You’ve probably noticed intranet user interfaces (UI’s) getting better over the years.

There was a time when including a mobile component to intranet design was more of an afterthought than anything else. But, as smartphone adoption has exploded over the past few years, it’s now become a primary concern.

Due to the nature of touchscreen displays (and as you’ll know from using your own smartphone) simple interfaces are what works best for this type of screen.

As companies update their intranets mobile access is now a primary design concern. With so much inspiration out there from quality apps and many years’ experience now under the belts of mobile intranet designers, next year we’ll see simpler and more effective UIs than ever.

Over to you…

Got your own predictions for intranets in 2016? We’d love to hear them from you in the comments section below

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Robin Dominik Havre

Robin is the CEO of New Intranet. He's helped many companies deploy successful mobile intranets that are easy to use and specially designed for employees not working in front of a computer. The goal of this blog is to provide research-backed intranet and internal communications advice for more successful HR strategies.

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