Modern digital workplaces have changed the face of communication and collaboration between employees working in various levels of an organization. Not only IT, but other sectors too are adopting intranet solutions which suit their needs and requirements. Since the launch of world's first intranet Genie, intranets have gone through radical changes due to advancement of technology. But user adoption still remains a major issue both for the intranet vendors and end users. Organizations spend hefty amounts of money on digital workplace solutions which is valid, since a good intranet helps to increase the ROI, increases work efficiency and decreases the gap between various levels of the organization, however fail to transform their employees into effective power users. When first implemented within an organization, it seems that the intranet solution is worthy, the real problem occurs when the end users don't find the solution useful for a long run and stop using it, rather they revert back to old traditional methods. Let us look at some of the points that appear as a challenge for user adoption:
• Complex user interface
One of the major reasons why end users may stop using an intranet is due to its hard to understand user interface. The user who is technically sound may not have issues to get used to it, but employees from a non-technical backgrounds may face difficulties if the user experience is not smooth and comprehensible. For example: an employee from the IT department may not find it difficult to use a document management system in an intranet, but it may be difficult for the employees from the HR or Sales department due to its complexities for managing metadata in a document management system.
Solution: An intranet solution with seamless interface and strong user experience with minimal complexities shall be able to solve this issue. We aren't provided with a user guide/manual when we use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It is the intuitive UI/UX which makes them easy to use, such should be the design of a highly adopted intranet. Additionally, assistive features can be integrated to solve user's issues with the help of AI, chat bots, tooltips or a virtual assistant.
Benefit: Expenditure to the company regarding the end user training will be minimized.
• Devoid of a powerful enterprise search function
Intranets can contain huge amounts of content like files, documents, images, videos, news, announcements, names etc. There may be a situation where the user needs to find and obtain a particular content, and without a proper search function this will prove to be a herculean task resulting in wastage of time and increase in frustration. Imagine the web working the same way but without search engines like Google!
Solution: A well, efficient and a powerful enterprise search function with metadata search capabilities should be the integral part of a modern intranet as it will avoid the wastage of time and hassle of the end user.
Benefit: Employee productivity will improve and project management will be streamlined.
• Challenging Work Environment
Every employee irrespective of their positon in the organization is a valuable asset. Thus if an employee's opinion or suggestion isn't valued, and if there is a sense of discontent in the environment then there shall be no scope for growth. This may also lead to lower adoption of intranet portals. An organization cannot be driven by the vision of a few minds. Without the flow of ideas and creativity no one has ever achieved new heights. That's what an intranet is all about, it's about collaboration, exchange of ideas, discussions and engagement.
Solution: A modern digital workplace should have features like idea sharing, where employees can contribute their ideas, or suggestions, and features like discussions so that the employees can engage in debates or discussions about various topics, themes or products. Google's Gmail and Google Drive were the result of inborn ideas. The concept of Gamification can also be applied while deciding certain features i.e. to apply rules and rewards to non-game activities in order to strategically incite specific behaviors. Gamification can be further broken down by analyzing game mechanics and game dynamics. Game mechanics are the actions or control mechanisms that are assigned to an activity, thus turning that activity into a game. Simply put, game mechanics are the features or functions that create the game-like experience. Examples of this are inherent in assigning points, levels, challenges, leaderboard ratings, or special titles towards virtual activities. This way, when a user completes the challenge or action, they receive a reward. Game dynamics are the emotional responses or incentives triggered by the game mechanics. These responses may result in feelings of achievement, competition, self-expression, or status. Rewarding employees for their work and ideas by adding features like employee/achiever of the month, best idea of the month, employee badges etc. will give an incentive to the employees of the organization to work harder. Thus having a well-made intranet is not enough but having a supportive working culture where innovations and ideas can flourish will help to achieve user adoption.
Benefit: Improved employee productivity, healthy working environment and increased profit margins.
• Huge dependency over external applications
Despite being an effective intranet it might not be wholesome, the users may have to shuffle between multiple applications as the intranet lack some necessary features, but still rely on emails for document exchange or project management communication. By continuously switching through applications, the employee often loses interest and thus the solution fails to provide the purpose.
Solution: Some basic features like Project Management, DMS (Document management System), Leave management system, announcements etc. should be included and the features should be designed such that the intranet becomes independent of other applications. When it comes to performing basic tasks associated with each and every employee domain, an argument might occur that, is it possible for an intranet solution to be hundred percent independent of other external application? The answer is NO! for tackling this problem, features like quick links can be provided so that the end user can easily access applications from within the intranet according to his/her requirement.
Benefit: Independent intranet, thus people won't resort to traditional applications for day to day tasks.
• Lack of personalization
An intranet will not appeal to the end user until and unless there is some essence of personalization present in it. People love to see things as they want to, thus not being able to change the look and feel of the intranet, lack of customizable features will always affect the adoption rate.
Solution: Intranets should be built such that the users have full freedom to customize the themes accordingly, the user shall also be able to tweak some features which is relevant to their work. For example: Sales Executives working in Bangalore won't require to see the HR policies from the Delhi office
Benefit:Removes the dullness of the digital workplace thus keeping the user engaged.