An intranet doesn’t have to be comms first

It sounds like a controversial opinion, but the truth is an intranet doesn’t have to be comms first. Traditional intranets served as communications portals, but today modern employee experience platforms offer critical productivity and collaboration benefits that make launching without comms a viable option. Find out how.

Number 1 on wall

Can I launch an intranet without comms?

Launching a new intranet or employee experience platform is an exciting prospect that promises a host of new opportunities to add value to your enterprise. Traditional intranets are synonymous with comms, so many organizations assume that intranet projects must be comms-led. Taking this approach means that the capacity of your comms team defines your ability to launch an outstanding solution – but that’s not the only way.

The old adage of ‘content is king’ doesn’t come without merit, but that doesn’t mean you have to stall your intranet project until comms is ready to take action. In fact, there’s a significant opportunity to start bringing the benefits of a modern intranet to your employees without burdening your comms team upfront.

Today, intranet technology has evolved beyond a traditional communications portal. There is as much, if not more, value to be tapped into when it comes to driving productivity and collaboration as there is for engaging employees with company comms. So, while many businesses assume that every intranet project must be comms-led, the reality is there are countless ways to launch an impactful solution without comms.

Every business has its own unique set of circumstances, challenges, and goals that will inform the implementation approach of a new intranet. Indeed, every intranet is unique to the business it serves. And while intranets tend to solve common challenges faced by enterprises en masse, the order in which you approach those challenges can and should vary depending on your business needs and available resource.

Deciding where to start with your intranet

When it comes to intranet technology the breadth of opportunity can be overwhelming and knowing where to start is the first hurdle. With so much new functionality to introduce to the business, it’s important not to try to boil the ocean. Instead, taking a phased approach that brings in new capabilities strategically overtime, at a pace that suits your people, is the advisable route. So where do you start?

First, let’s get clear on the available use-cases for a new intranet as they stand today:

  • Collaboration: In an increasingly hybrid workplace, the ability to effectively collaborate, network and build all-important cross-departmental relationships is under threat. A collaboration-focused intranet helps to overcome space-time barriers by providing employees with a shared digital space to find and connect with colleagues and collaborate on projects.
  • Productivity: Digital friction is a leading cause of low productivity with 68% of workers reporting spending too much time switching between apps according to Gartner. A modern employee experience platform solves productivity challenges by providing a single home for all the apps, tools and systems your people rely on. A recent study conducted by Forrester revealed that companies using Unily could realise a 50% increase in productivity amounting to a minimum of $2.6m for an organization of 25k employees over three years. Indeed, Shell reported savings of $42m p/a following time-to-task testing with their new Unily intranet.
  • Knowledge: Knowledge silos and lost knowledge harm business innovation and employee productivity. What employees need is a single, searchable hub where information can be found from multiple repositories in one place. Modern employee experience platforms offer the opportunity to integrate knowledge sources so that employees can find the information they need, when they need it.
  • Internal comms: Over recent years the need for an efficient enterprise comms solution has come to the fore, leading many organizations to invest in more advanced intranet solutions. Modern employee experience platforms come packed with features to drive engagement with comms, helping to reduce unnecessary noise through targeted and personalized experiences. For internal communicators battling against comms overload, a performant intranet reduces comms burden by supporting a decentralized model for content production, underpinned by automated workflows and permissioning features that preserve quality control. The benefits of an intranet in terms of improving comms efficiency are significant. A Forrester study revealed that enterprises using Unily improved efficiency for content production equating to $4.8m across 3 years when compared to legacy solutions.
  • Culture and engagement: The final compelling use-case for an intranet is as a tool to support culture and engagement. When a business undergoes a period of disruption, as many have in recent years, an employee experience platform provides consistency as a digital home where culture can continue to evolve. Onboard new hires effectively, connect existing employees with each other and company initiatives that enrich their working lives. Give employees a voice with social networking tools and utilize reward and recognition features to drive a culture of appreciation that recognizes the talent in your organization.

Since modern employee experience platforms are poised to solve challenges from driving engagement with company comms to powering productivity by consolidating apps, supporting collaboration through smoother networking, and improving knowledge management by integrating document repositories into a searchable source of truth – choosing where to start with your long list of intranet priorities is the first, most important step.

Where you choose to start will depend on where your most pressing needs are combined with your internal capacity to support the various routes. Starting with comms is a common route but not the only route. For many businesses improving productivity by consolidating business systems is an important nut to crack and a great place to start. Below we’ll look at what your solution might look like if you start without comms.

Different options for launching an intranet without comms

#1. The collaboration enabler

productivity homepage

First up we have a collaboration-focused platform. Here we see a host of widgets designed to bring employees together and promote a culture of connection that spans beyond an employee's immediate department. Widgets included in this design include:

  • A People Directory search widget that allows employees to find colleagues belonging to different teams and business units
  • A SharePoint documents widget that displays recent documents being collaborated on 
  • An Ideation widget showing the most popular ideas being voted on by colleagues around the company
  • The Latest Recognition widget highlights recently awarded peer-to-peer recognition helping to drive forward a united culture of appreciation
  • An All Company Conversations feed that keeps people on the pulse of company dialogue, inviting opportunities for employees to connect with each other
  • An upcoming events feed that promotes opportunities for employees to get together in person or remotely 

#2. The productivity launchpad


Pivoting to a design that puts productivity front and centre, we have an example of a homepage designed to demystify complex digital landscapes and bring the tools and information people need into one place. With a heavy integrations focus, widgets included in this design include:

  • A personalized apps and tools carrousel that brings relevant apps to the fingertips of employees
  • A Key Links widget providing one-click access to complete regular tasks
  • A My Calendar widget displaying upcoming meetings via Google Calendar integration
  • A Documents roll up displaying recent documents via Google Drive integration
  • A second Documents roll up displaying recent OneDrive documents for easy access

#3. The knowledge base

faq homepage

In the final design, a focus on connecting users with knowledge is brought to life through widgets that promote effective knowledge sharing. Here the ability to quickly find information is prioritized by a global search bar in the page header. Widgets included in this design include:

  • A ServiceNow Knowledge widget allows users to search for your articles stored within ServiceNow, helping to promote self-service
  • A Document roll up pointing to key HR documents
  • An FAQ roll-up highlighting frequently asked questions and giving employees the answers they need at speed

The beauty of intranet iteration

What the conceptual designs above demonstrate is that there are many ways an intranet can provide value to employees beyond comms. Getting started with a new intranet project often means picking off the low-hanging fruit first. With so much opportunity to improve the employee experience, taking an iterative approach that tackles challenges in a strategic order is the best way forward. So, what challenge will you tackle first?

Insights for you

EX Insights to your inbox

The list that everyone wants to get on. Subscribe to receive the latest insights, upcoming events, and inside scoops.