How Modern Intranets Compare to Traditional Intranets

To begin, let’s look at what an Intranet actually is. An intranet is private network only available to authorised personnel within an organisation. The main purposes for an intranet are for sharing the latest news within the organisation, enabling collaboration on projects and documents, communications and a hub for important policy documents. With a modern intranet, employees should be engaged, contributing opinions and articles, not just reading them.

What are employees really using the intranet for?

Originally, intranets were a place which provided a home page, some company news, procedures and HR forms. Since then SharePoint intranets and latterly Office 365 intranets have dominated the market and are seen as places to store and share documents, while consisting of more revolutionary communication and collaboration tools.

The big upgrade in functionality and complexity means more companies than before are using intranets. Sadly however, this hasn’t resulted in an increase in user adoption. For example, research from Worldwide Intranet Challenge shows that around 80% employees have never or infrequently used intranet to publish content.

Discussion of work topics, sharing content and working collaboratively should all be regularly performed tasks, but the research shows otherwise. So why could this be? Could it be that your intranet is need of an update?

Modern Vs Traditional intranets

Every company’s intranet will differ, even the way different colleagues use your chosen platform will vary depending on the needs of their role. There are however, several key activities which almost all employees will carry out on their intranets. We’ll look at the five key activities in a little more detail and see the key differences of how each work in a traditional intranet and a modern intranet.

1 – Finding information

The most cardinal use of your company intranet is likely to be for finding the correct information when it is needed. This is an activity which is required in any organisation, of any size. Information is a broad term to cover everything from policy procedures, people information and how-to guides.

With your typically traditional intranet, information is usually hunted for through one of three routes, as shown below:

Method Problem
Key-terms search If the employee searching doesn’t know exactly the right term for the document they are searching for, they won’t have a successful search result.
Trawling through metadata of folder structures Selecting incorrect folders or metadata can waste hours of valuable time searching for a result which may not even be in that location.
Seeking help from a colleague Perfect if you can find someone who knows the answer but, as we’ve all experienced, this isn’t always a guarantee.

Using a traditional intranet can be time-consuming and inefficient, this will add to the reluctance of employees to really engage with your intranet.

How does this compare with a modern intranet? Not only do modern intranets utilise years of improving search technology for more effective keyword searches. Intranets, such as Fresh, have now gone much further. Built on Office 365, documents and conversations relevant to employees are brought directly to them. An intranet integrated with Office 365 also provide access to Yammer, the perfect social platform to easily find colleagues with certain skills and to communicate with other employees.

2 – Collaboration

Collaboration functionality is there to allow employees to easily share documents and work on them together, it should work parallel to the physical workplace. In traditional intranets collaboration is promoted through versioning in document libraries.

In reality this method, however innovative, fails to make collaboration run smoothly. It can sometimes even make things worse, with documents becoming duplicated or overwritten, and without strict enforcement of governance policies, confusion can prevail.

Collaboration is at the core of modern intranets. Documents are now able to be stored and shared in a much more refined way. For example, Fresh makes real-time working feasible. This means it’s possible to create and collaborate on a document with a colleague whilst also having an instant message or video conversation. Resulting in a reduction in the chances of confusion and document duplication.


Learn more about how Towergate Insurance used Fresh Intranet to utilise the tools of Office 365 in order successfully achieve a more connected, collaborative workplace.


3 – Internal communications

Traditional intranets commonly push communications through a homepage, where employees can find news, updates and blogs. Although this can sometimes be effective, times are changing and people often don’t have time to sit in front of a desktop and take in this kind of stuffy content. This is an area in which modern intranets can perfectly cater to employee’s needs.

Modern intranets provide the tools for documents and video content to be accessed at any time, anywhere on any device. Enterprise Social networks, such as Yammer, can also be incorporated into modern Office 365 digital workspaces. This can provide real-time, interactive engagement giving employees the ability to like, share and discuss the latest posts and news.

4 – Mobile working

There’s no denying that in recent years mobile devices have taken over the world. When using traditional intranets mobile access is often limited. Accessible solely via a VPN, in a browser only version, navigation and interaction with fingers and thumbs can be frustrating and, to employees, not worth their time.

Modern intranets are all about employee empowerment. By cutting out the need for VPN, employees can access portals easily, seamlessly and securely via the cloud. With a shift in how organisations work, businesses are beginning to focus on the 60% of deskless workers that make up their workforce. Deskless workers still have the need to access information such as staff rotas, HR forms and general company news and updates, but might not have access, or the time, to sit at a desktop computer. Modern intranets, allow employees to become independent, empowered and self-sufficient. Fear not IT departments an Office 365 intranet can be set up with Rights Management Services (RMS) so you can rest assured that content is protected and encrypted.

5 – Social capital

Social capital refers to all of the interpersonal connections and networks within an organisation that make work easier and help to actually get the required job done. It refers to the human links involved in truly completing a process or task. In a traditional intranet you might have access to very basic personal profiles, but often these are ineffective and ignored. For example, employees will fill out a traditional form, such as holiday request, and then go and find HR to talk to in-person to ensure the request does get approved.

With modern intranets we recognise that although all organisations have an “official way” they are supposed to be working, the way things actually get done can be a little different. This is why, as previously mentioned, modern intranets often include social networks such as Yammer. This is where those natural workplace conversations, the ones which usually take place in a hallway or staff kitchen, can be mirrored with the likelihood of getting a faster reply.

With such vast advancements and improvements that have been made since the original, often clunky, traditional intranets – is time you took a Fresh approach to your organisations intranet?

More information on modern intranets and what that could look like for your organisation.[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”Discover the role of the modern intranet” style=”3d”]Since the emerging market dominance of Microsoft’s SharePoint, intranets have come to be places to store and share documents and have also incorporated a range of more sophisticated communication and collaboration tools. So, what role should the intranet play in modern business? Download our whitepaper to learn more.

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