The hidden costs of picking the wrong intranet software

We make as many as 35k decisions each day, but some carry more weight than others. The right intranet can deliver untold enterprise benefits, while the wrong investment can result in losses that go far beyond the initial outlay. What can you do to avoid the costly price of selecting the wrong intranet software, and does it pay to invest more today to save tomorrow?

Employee using intranet software in meeting

All eyes are on your intranet in the new world of work

After years in the background, your intranet is finally taking center stage. While legacy solutions were often just digitized bulletin boards, modern platforms have grown to overcome a host of employee experience challenges. In the hybrid era, the demands on your intranet are higher than ever.

As a result, many enterprises are planning to increase their spending on digital infrastructure. 67% of corporate directors expect to expand their budget for technology and 87% agree that technology will play a transformational role in addressing strategic business priorities. As digitalization accelerates, the costs of choosing the wrong intranet software are going to increasingly add up.

Challenge #1: Build vs buy

Choosing the right intranet software has never been more important, or more challenging. Your digital workplace’s rise in visibility has coincided with a market that is more crowded than ever before.

The first decision that you’ll need to make is a major one: build versus buy. In years past, enterprises carefully considered whether an Out-of-the-Box solution could deliver against the unique needs of the company as a custom intranet could. More recently, innovation in the OOTB space, combined with an understanding of the maintenance required to keep a custom solution ahead of the curve, have resulted in most enterprises moving towards turnkey solutions.

While earlier options lacked the personalization associated with built solutions, customization is no longer a limiting factor for turnkey products because modern versions are highly agile and come with a host of configuration capabilities. As a result, selecting a turnkey intranet gives you all the control at a fraction of the cost. Instead of budgeting for the development, launch, and maintenance of your intranet in-house, these services are built into your turkey solution to stretch your dollar the furthest.

Chess pieces facing off in preparation for debate


Build vs buy: has the war been won?

While the benefits of an intranet are essentially common knowledge, opinions on the best implementation path have posed a longstanding dilemma. Enterprises seeking to implement a new solution have traditionally been faced with two choices: build a custom-made portal or buy an Out-of-the-Box intranet product.

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Challenge #2. Crowded market

The next step is selecting the right vendor. With more than 100 intranets and employee engagement tools on the market, pinpointing the ideal option isn’t easy. In fact, Clearbox Consulting’s independent review system weighs as many as ten different scenarios to drill down on the top-rated choices available today.

Gartner and Forrester have both published extensive research around the same topic, and the User Experience experts at Nielsen Norman release a Design Annual that spotlights the best that the intranet world has to offer.

While these sources undoubtedly serve as valuable guides for those considering off-the-shelf intranet software, there’s a lot more to factor in when it comes to selecting the right solution for your enterprise. How can you be sure that you’ve made the right choice? And what happens if you pick the wrong option?

ClearBox global intranet of choice 2021 award


Unily named ClearBox global intranet of choice 2021

Unily has been selected as ClearBox Consulting’s 2021 Intranet Choice - Global following an in-depth review of more than 200 vendors. The Independent Intranets Report serves as a comprehensive guide to off-the-shelf intranet software, with badges awarded to the vendors that ClearBox recognizes as the most compelling options on the market for prospective buyers.

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Challenge #3: Selecting a platform today, for the challenges of tomorrow

The intranet software you choose today is going to impact employee experience for years to come. Consequently, you need to feel confident that your selection can grow and adapt as your use cases continue to change.

Rather than a stagnant offering, your intranet will be in a constant state of evolution. The most successful platforms are those with built-in agility and an ongoing commitment to innovation. But what does that actually look like in action?

For starters, your intranet software should include an evergreen roadmap that ensures that your platform stays up to date with the latest features. To take iteration to the next level, look for a vendor with an ideation portal that encourages customers to share their insights and shape the progression of the product.

5 factors that make choosing the wrong intranet software costly

When you have 100+ options, is it even possible to single out one as the best pick? While choosing the cheapest intranet software might seem like an easy way out, it will ultimately wreak havoc on your bottom line. Selecting the wrong product will cost you in the following ways:

#1. Supplementary subscriptions

Let’s say you go ahead and select the intranet software with the lowest sticker price. While you may have satisfied your requests for basic functionality, your internal comms team needs something separate to create email newsletters.

Then, HR wants to make it easier for frontline teams to review health and safety updates. Since your intranet software doesn’t have digital signage, you’re going to have to look elsewhere to satisfy that request as well. Before you know it, all these additional subscription fees have turned your cost-effective choice into a decision that is decidedly costly. In addition, you’ve created a more complex digital landscape to manage, which comes with its own productivity costs.

Rather than paying for these services separately, you can derive more value from choosing intranet software that has these capabilities built-in. If you’re looking to maximize your ROI, find a platform that can do everything from push notifications to smart forms to newsletter content creation.

Intranet email newsletter

#2. Security risks

Regardless of how big your budget is, you can’t afford a security breach. In addition to costing an average of 8.6m, cybersecurity threats will do irreparable damage to your reputation. If customer information is leaked, it can be nearly impossible to regain consumer trust, especially for enterprises that handle sensitive information like medical records or financial data.

When you go for the cheapest intranet software, there’s a good chance that you won’t be getting a platform that takes security as seriously as you need it to. To prevent the unthinkable from happening, make sure your intranet service provider has both ISO and SOC-2 certifications, which ensure that the systems and processes that are implemented offer the greatest level of protection from external threats.


Intranet security 101

Now that the corporate headquarters has gone digital, information security is at the forefront of protecting your enterprise. But what does it take to safeguard your intranet? We've invited our Chief Information Security Officer, James Heathcote, to unpack everything you need to know about keeping your intranet secure in our latest podcast episode.

Watch now

#3. Lack of innovation

If we’ve learned anything from last year, it’s that change happens fast. When faced with disruption, it’s the agile enterprises that will come out on top. Consequently, you need technology that will help you evolve and adapt to disruption quickly.

Your intranet can either be a help or a hindrance here, depending on which software you choose. If you’re used to a stagnant product, intranet software with ongoing updates and innovations will feel like a game changer, as Chris Wilson, Windstream’s Senior Corporate Communications Consultant, knows well.

When their contract with an established service provider was up, Windstream decided to see what the mature intranet market had to offer. “Once we started looking at other solutions and seeing what competitors were doing, it was actually a really exciting moment. We had no idea that different intranet-as-a-service providers were running circles around our current solution in terms of seamless Office 365 integrations and innovative developments,” Wilson notes.

"Once we started looking at other solutions and seeing what competitors were doing, it was actually a really exciting moment. We had no idea that different intranet-as-a-service providers were running circles around our current solution in terms of seamless Office 365 integrations and innovative developments."

Chris Wilson - Senior Consultant, Corporate Communications at Windstream
Intranet Ideation

To safeguard against the need to swap to a more innovative platform in the future, carefully consider your chosen vendor’s product roadmap. How often is the vendor releasing product updates? Do they have a record of consistent innovation? What opportunities do customer have to play in a role in product evolution? These questions will give you a good idea on whether you’re selecting a product that will grow with your needs.

Windstream intranet migration case study flat pages - migrating to Unily in 9 weeks

Case Study

Windstream: Migrating to Unily in 9 weeks

As a leading telecommunications provider, connection is Windstream’s lifeblood. Previously, a legacy platform created roadblocks that hindered the efficacy of internal comms. By migrating to Unily, Windstream has entered a new era of workforce connectivity.

Get the case study

#4. Sub-par support

No matter what intranet software you choose, support services are crucial. With one-fourth of IT projects failing outright and another 20-25% falling short of delivering ROI, there’s no doubt that guidance is needed if you want to see your intranet succeed.

However, hiring support staff gets pricey, with the average starting salary hovering around $85k. Rather than adding to your headcount, look for an intranet service provider that comes with built-in technical support. Some software vendors will take guidance to the next level by offering multiple touchpoints, including a dedicated Onboarding team and a Customer Success Manager, who will work with you one-on-one to bring your employee experience goals to life.

Learn 5 ways Unily’s Customer Success team adds value to your intranet project in our blog.

#5. Productivity nose dives

In the new world of work, your employees are going to be busier than ever before. Your intranet can help your people work smarter, not harder, by reducing the amount of time they spend on their daily tasks.

Without intuitive navigation and a superior search experience, it will be impossible for your employees to achieve peak productivity. In fact, the average knowledge worker may spend as much as 30% of their day searching for information.

If you’re looking to upgrade output levels, choosing the right intranet software is non-negotiable. When Shell launched their enhanced intranet, time-to-task testing revealed that employees were saving an average of 82 seconds per task when compared to their previous solution. Across their workforce, this has amounted to annual savings of 42m.

Shell intranet conversation search

Are you ready to choose intranet software that will maximize your ROI?

While choosing intranet software is a big decision, it’ll pay off if you make your selection wisely. If you’re currently weighing the pros and cons of several different options, get in touch with our digital workplace experts to help clarify which choice will serve your enterprise best.

Insights for you

Read the full case study

Discover how Windstream migrated from their legacy platform to a new modern intranet in just 9 weeks.

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