I have to admit I am at fault. I am one of many who write about intranets saving the day when it comes to employees who are disengaged and lack corporate connection. This may sound strange coming from me, the founder of an intranet software company, but using intranet software on it’s own to fix a broken culture or to engage employees with fancy tricks and beautiful designs simply doesn’t work. I am going to bust this myth and here’s why:
I have yet to see a single piece of software that’s plugged in and ready to be launched that can guarantee you the elusive main prize in the world of intranets: employee engagement. But don’t let this discourage you. There is a way to get there, it just takes time and work in the right direction.
Intranets are merely an extension of “you”. You being the company, or in some cases, you being the intranet admin. How many intranets do you know that have become the vehicle of one champion or one committee, only to stagnate with little to no interest from everyone else?
We see a lot of these stories in our line of work. No one wants to recreate the wheel and put in the Herculean effort to build an intranet, just to have it drift into redundancy. Out-of-the-box intranet software is a hot commodity, especially if it does what SharePoint promises, at a fraction of the cost (and fraction of the headache). But it’s not going to be a magic bullet.
What you do with your intranet, and how you do it, is what breathes life into it, or alternatively causes it to gather dust on the shelf.
At one time or another we all fall into traps of marketing and hype, hoping for a quick fix…
Take this magic diet pill and lose 10 lbs in a week! Get the latest techno gadget and live a more productive and happy life while on the go! School popularity is only a shiny new scooter away, purchased online with a two button click and Mom’s credit card!
Sound familiar? Ok that last one is in reference to my son, who is in grade four, and not oblivious to the reach of market hype via his iPad.
Maybe what we forget in our race toward life in the digital age is that the engagement we all seek is rooted in relationships. The diet, the gadget, the shiny new scooter – none of these really give us engagement, do they? Maybe short-lived, but certainly not long-term.
The same goes for your intranet. No matter what cool widget or task-driven promise to improve productivity is offered, in the end engagement starts with relationships. It’s the axis of success. And relationships take effort in order to work well. They need to be nourished and cultivated.
This philosophy transfers over to business too. As you read this you may be surprised to learn that this is our 17th year for Intranet Connections, our flagship out-of-the-box intranet software. It’s our only product, our only focus and our only passion.
Seventeen years goes by quick, but not in the sense of technology. There are not many who last in the realm of web technology this long. We are often asked what our secret to longevity is. We certainly are not an equivalent to big-business Microsoft, nor are we the newbie startup rooted in the innovation promise-land. We are the worker-bee.
Personally I like living behind the radar and this has allowed us to build our company identity around value over virtue, simple over sexy, people over profit. That is what has won us the coveted seat of a leader in intranet software for seventeen years.
If you think of people over profit when looking at intranets, could that also be a win-win game plan? Rarely has an initiative fully succeeded when it’s only goal is return on investment. If we focused on what people inherently want, which I suspect is connection, leading to relationships, leading to engagement; would we see a shift in the use and effectiveness of intranets and digital workplaces?
Our success as an intranet software company is built on the backbone of connection, and it’s got to come from the core of the business or it won’t work because it won’t be authentic. So if you are the “you” of your intranet, what is at the core identity of your business and how can you leverage that identity to build better relationships using the intranet? How can you engage the tools to connect people to each other, and promote relationship building versus just connecting staff to data and content?
Business success is rarely overnight, and the same goes for your intranet. The best in class are always a journey of passion, heart, authenticity, connection and relationships. Oh, and simplicity!
Share your story! How have you promoted relationship building with your intranet or digital workplace? Comment below.