For years, web content management systems (or CMS for short) have been the basis for the Internet. They facilitate the creation, maintenance, and publication of digital content. And they don't require great technical know-how or programming experience. During their many years of existence, CMS systems have been further specialized. One of the most important distinctions lies between a website CMS system and an intranet CMS. We think it's a bad idea to use the same CMS for both the Internet and intranet.

The rise of mobile communication channels has added a further dimension. These channels require even greater adaption and specialization of intranet content management systems.

Let's look at the specific requirements for an intranet app for internal communication. One that reaches all types of employees—including offline or frontline workers.

Intranet CMS Software—Based on a Digital Workplace Strategy

Choosing the right software first requires a knowledge of your actual needs. In other words, you need a strategy. This doesn't necessarily involve weeks of workshops and theory; you can pragmatically realize your goals as long as you answer some specific questions.

  • What is the digital workplace for, and what are its expected benefits. In other words, what are your so-called use cases?
  • How do I define and measure success?
  • What are the target groups for your use cases, and how can you reach these people?
  • Which organizational framework do I need in order to successfully operate the intranet and its use cases?

These are only some of the questions to ask right off the bat. But they help you to get a feel for the long-term role of the intranet in your company.

Fortunately, deciding on your use cases isn't that complicated. Many past intranet projects have revealed that organizations have similar views on what they want to achieve with the intranet.

Our experience points to four main use cases.

  • Communication
  • Information
  • Services
  • Collaboration (aka Teamwork), which was added to the intranet wishlist as Web 2.0 solutions reached companies in the form of so-called enterprise social intranets.
digital workplace intranet use cases
The four main intranet use cases.

This is exactly where the real test for a modern intranet strategy begins. These four uses cases and their benefits to modern intranets might be clear. But it's complicated to bring everything together under one roof. Especially in regard to teamwork, many new, security-critical content issues are brought to the table. As the intranet suddenly becomes a central project platform, companies must meet much higher standards for preventing unauthorized access. That's one side of the coin.

The other side is that, on average, more than half of all employees lack personalized access to a company PC. Therefore, in order to reach all your employees, the intranet must be accessible on their mobile and private devices. And if possible, they shouldn't have to to log in all the time.

The Mother of All Business Technology Questions: Single Platform or Best-of-Breed?

Modern intranets offering a combination of solutions have a clear advantage. However, there are now applications like Microsoft SharePoint which focus on teamwork. On the other hand, there are CMS applications that are focused on communication and ideally supported on mobile channels. From a technology standpoint, we see an old strategy argument: which approach is better, single platform or best-of-breed?

intranet platform vs best of breed
The mother of all business technology questions: single platform or best-of-breed?

A single platform for the digital workplace has been the dream of CIO's for years now. However, the trending tools now available via mobile and cloud have changed the game. They have made best-of-breed approaches the obvious choice.

Here are 5 key reasons to choose a best-of-breed approach:

  1. The requirements for use cases like project management, communities, or communication are becoming much more specific. And new approaches and trends from the web continue to be added. A single platform is unable to match that speed while simultaneously giving the attention to detail necessary throughout the platform.
  2. Digital workplace use cases have different target groups. These groups are in an ongoing fight between "great reach" and "great security." It's nearly impossible for a single platform to provide a convincing solution that serves the needs of all of your employees.
  3. Standard Cloud solutions are more cost effective than platforms with specific and often expensive customizations.
  4. The rise of apps and mobile is proof that a best-of-breed approach can be extremely user-friendly and easy to maintain. One look at the home screen of your iPhone or Android device will show you how best of breed looks!
  5. Single platform approaches had a dangerous side effect in the past: Shadow IT. Whenever a single user or department was unhappy with what they got from IT, it was very easy to purchase a SaaS solution on the web. Standard best-of-breed tools remain up to date and result in happier users and less shadow IT.

The requirements for a mobile intranet CMS are emerging from this best-of-breed approach. There are now numerous vendors for social collaboration solutions. But until recently, a standard tool for managing mobile employee communication and information has been missing.

The goal of this series of articles is to look deeper into enterprise communication requirements. We hope to show you what's really needed in order to reach all of your employees. These solutions have arisen from our first-hand experiences of hundreds of companies of different sizes, often with multiple locations.

Part 2: Mobile Intranet CMS—Communication and News Management can be read here!

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