For years, web content management systems (or CMS for short) have been the basis for the Internet. They are meant to facilitate the creation, maintenance, and publication of digital content without needing to have great technical know-how or programming experience. During their many years of existence, CMS systems have been specialized further. One of the most important distinctions is between the CMS systems for websites and for intranets. We have previously discussed why it isn't recommended to use the same CMS for both the Internet and intranet.

The inexorable rise of mobile channels has added a further dimension that requires the even greater adaption and specialization of intranet content management systems. The specific requirements for an intranet app for internal communication reaching all types of employees—including offline or frontline workers—will be clarified below.

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; your goals can be realized pragmatically, as long as some specific questions are answered:

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

These are only some of the questions to be asked 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 shown us that organizations have similar views on what they want to achieve with the intranet. Our experience shows us that there are four main use cases: Communication, Information, Services, and Collaboration (aka Teamwork), which was added to the intranet wishlist some years ago as Web 2.0 solutions  reached companies in the form of so-called enterprise social intranets.

digital workplace intranet use cases

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

The other side is that, on average, more than half of all employees have no personalized access to a PC. In this case, in order to reach the highest possible number of employees, the intranet must be accessible on the mobile and private terminal devices of employees, and if possible, without them having to log in all the time.

The Mother of all Technology Questions—Single Platform or Best-of-Breed?

Modern intranets that offer a combination of solutions will win through: on the one side, there are now applications like Microsoft SharePoint which focus on teamwork, and on the other side, there are CMS applications which focus on communication and ideally support the mobile channel. From a technology point of view, we see an old strategy discussion arising: which approach is better, single platform or best of breed?

intranet platform vs best of breed

A single platform for the digital workplace has been the dream of CIO's for some years now. However, the trending tools now available via mobile and Cloud are changing the game and will undoubtedly make best-of-breed approaches the obvious choice going forward. These are the key reasons why:

  1. The requirements for use cases like project management, communities, or communication are becoming much more specific and continue adding new approaches and trends from the web. A single platform is unable to match that speed while simultaneously giving the attention to detail necessary at every corner of the platform.
  2. As mentioned above, digital workplace use cases have different target groups in which there is 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 living 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 what pure best of breed looks like!
  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 wold be 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. But while there are now numerous vendors for social collaboration solutions, a standard tool for managing mobile employee communication and information has until recently been missing. The goal of this series of articles is to look deeper into enterprise communication requirements and show what's really needed in order to reach all of your employees. These solutions have been shaped by the experiences of hundreds of companies of different sizes, often with multiple locations, with whom we have been working closely.

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

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