Executives are killing the intranet

Toby Ward's picture

The average intranet is pathetic; it suffers from poor technology, awful, out-dated content, poor engagement, a terrible search engine, non-existent content governance, and a pathetic user experience that looks like a web brochure from the 1990s, or a screen full of boxes likely designed by a cold war engineer at gunpoint in some Eastern communist basement.

Who is to blame? Your executive suite.

The buck stops in the c-suite. Too many executives still view the intranet as a cost centre, not a place to help employees and enhance the business. Too many executives are killing intranet (governance).

The primary reason behind the lack of progress with the standard intranet since the Great Recession of 2008-09, is the severe lack of funding for the intranet. This is not the case in all organizations, only most organizations. Far too many grey hair executives in their 60s and 70s have no respect for the intranet, nor any interest in funding it beyond the absolute bare minimum.

Ask yourself:

  • How many of you have intranets with technology that is 6, 8 or 10 years old?
  • When was your last redesign – 4, 5, 6 or more years ago?
  • Are executives and employees using social collaboration tools on your intranet?
  • is all the content on your intranet up-to-date and relevant?
  • Is your intranet search working well?

If you answered no to one or more of the above questions, your executives are killing your intranet (governance). Without their involvement, your intranet governance is dead on the vine. Ask yourself: would these same executives allow your external website to degenerate to the same state? Absolutely not. So why does the public deserve better than employees?

Intranet governance is mission-critical to your intranet; in fact, there is no more important component or intranet ingredient. And the most important ingredient for any intranet governance model is the executive champion(s). Without a solid and engaged executive champion — either the CEO or one of the c-suite level executives that report to him or her — your intranet will be, for all intents and purposes, dead (or dying) before it can realize any true value. And we are talking about a caring, and engaged executive; not one who sits back and only pays attention when there’s a problem — an executive who really cares about employees, who wants to invest in their well-being, and one who truly understands that the intranet is an investment in the future, not a cost centre.

One company has an intranet built on a technology platform that is 8 years-old, and no longer supported by the vendor. Certain components of the intranet crash the entire intranet. It has no dedicated IT person or resource, only a second-tier support desk located in a remote island nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s been crashing for more than a year; and they’ve had to spend many tens-of-thousands of dollars to back-up and clone the intranet because the next crash might be permanent. We’re in the middle of attempting a business case to help ‘sell’ the need and secure a few hundred-thousand dollars to upgrade the technology, and redesign an intranet that looks like the aforementioned communist bootstrap project. This is a company with more than 50,000 employees, and approaching $10 billion in revenue. No, this is not a joke. It’s very real. I am working with them as we speak.

What’s the chief difference between a failing intranet, and a great intranet? Executives. Engaged, active executive champions who understand that the intranet is an investment in employees, in the business, and the future of the organization. The intranet is not a cost centre, and it needs proper governance (digital workplace governance).

Not all are this stupid, just most. Now it’s your job to help them see the light…

Register for free for the next webinar on “How To Govern An Intranet” (March 23, 1pm EDT). Also read: Intranet Governance: Ownership, Management and Policy.

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