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An Intelligent Intranet is useful for organizations of all sizes!

In the January 2023 blog post “What makes an Intranet Intelligent?” by Mike Homol, ThreeWill Principal Consultant, Mike says,

In this post, I want to quickly reflect on some of the qualities of an intelligent intranet that can be the difference between thriving and stagnating. In an organization, the intranet is the natural home for a number of things, like announcements, knowledge articles, process documents, etc.

One of my hobbies outside of working at ThreeWill is my volunteer work as founder and head coach of a youth running club (track and cross country). Since 2011 over 1300 elementary and middle school-aged kids of all abilities have participated in my club as they prepare for high school distance running (or, perhaps as a way for mom to get them out of the house and “do something” after school!)

I have found that implementing many of the same features found in a corporate intelligent intranet allows my organization to scale and work effectively and efficiently regardless of the number of members for a given session.

Definition of an Intelligent Intranet

During his intranet workshops and webinars, Mike has customers align on a simple definition of an intelligent intranet, which, simply stated, is…

A web-based portal meant for broad-based distribution of information featuring authoritative content.

This definition is a great mission statement for the purpose of my club’s intranet! I want to enable my parents to successfully navigate the intricacies of after-school club running and want to make it a rewarding experience for them!

Qualities of an Intelligent Intranet

Mike goes on to describe a list of qualities and characteristics of a successful intelligent intranet:

  • Transparent and Open
  • Constant change
  • Single source of truth
  • Follows proper web design conventions and principles
  • First place to start

Transparent and Open

Having information readily available, not tucked away in some obscure hierarchy, gives those who want to be self-sufficient the ability to find what they are looking for without having to resort to search. Answers to commonly asked questions should be easy to find. Don’t depend on email alone to deliver important content, provide page(s) on your intranet where the same information can be found.

Constant change

My youth running club has two sessions per year, March through July, and August through December. As the “lifecycle” of those sessions evolves, the information that needs to be available and delivered changes, too, from general to specific to very detailed.

When does the season start and end? What time is practice? How do we register for your club? Where is the track meet this weekend? What events are available to select? Where can I find the results for the meet?

If the information never changes as the season progresses, there is no reason to continue to visit the site. Information that is great for attracting parents to your club doesn’t work when those same parents now need information about what is happening next week! Providing details about upcoming events and reporting on the news from past events gives reasons for my parents to keep coming back. And the more self-sufficient they are, the fewer questions I need to answer at practice, via text, and via email!

Single source of truth

Email communications along with attached documents are a great way to provide point-in-time information to your users. What happens though, as information changes, due to corrections or the need to provide additional details or clarifications? Having an intelligent intranet that always has the most recent and updated information goes a long way to making your communications more accurate and effective.

  • Instead of trying to provide all the details in an email communication, how about highlighting the main points and redirecting the recipient to an intranet page that provides all the information they need? Providing a transparent and open way for users to find this same content on the intranet, without having to first “find the email”, helps with user adoption.
  • Instead of attaching documents to an email, why not provide a link to a shared document that is housed in SharePoint? That way, if corrections are made or details updated, each time the email “attachment” is clicked the most recent content is readily available.

Follows proper web design conventions and principles

For my parents, having a mobile responsive intranet allows them to access the information they need from anywhere, for example, “I’m on my way, but I need to know the address of where the event is located!”

By keeping the user interface simple, with the most important information only one or two clicks away, they can find what they are looking for without any hassle. In our corporate implementations, we leverage the power of SharePoint along with its ability to add styles and themes to provide branding and uniqueness to your intranet.

First place to start

Early in the season, I remind parents new to my club that the website really does have answers to the questions they are asking. If I tell my parents, “It’s on the website!” when they ask for details about an upcoming event or for more information about a frequently asked topic, you can be sure they will quit listening to me if they can’t find it on the website! Mike says it well…

We don’t want using the intranet to feel like a burden, but a delight. Make it truly feel like the home for news, information, and for being a part of something bigger.

What’s next

Need more information about ThreeWill’s approach to an intelligent intranet … it’s on the website!


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