The Death of the Intranet!?

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The Death of the Intranet!?

It’s 2016, and Intranet’s should no longer be a one-way delivery medium for corporate content. Today’s environment is about working faster and smarter and in order to do so, intranet platforms need to be more user-friendly, and most importantly they need to be engaging and useful. The subject of usefulness has always been an important and contentious one, but more so when we consider the utmost importance of front-line employee mobility. So we ask, can and are global organisations really making the intranet a strategic part of their growth plans? And more importantly, should they be?

 

Stuart Jackson, VP Communications, Europe at Nissan Motor Corporation, shared his thoughts with us about this, and you might be surprised with his bold take on the future of the Intranet.

Guest Post from Stuart Jackson – VP Communications, Europe at Nissan Motor Corporation

 

intranet

 

Is the intranet dead?

 

This headline is not a provocation. It’s not another one of those attention-grabbing Linked IN post-headers that draws you in and fails to deliver. It is a fact.

 

A month ago at Nissan, we launched our first employee app – Nissan Insider Mobile. We did it because we were trying to solve the problem of how to get to those ‘hard to reach’ areas (as you’ll read below, many of our people work in factories, away from emails, intranets and the tools of the office worker).

 

My first LinkedIn post on the launch of the app got a lot of debate going and I promised to come back to the LI community with an update. I’m excited to say, all the signs are pointing toward a truly engaging platform that is resonating with employees in a way that your average Internal Comms channel simply can’t.

 

Here are some early stats for you:

  • We’ve had more than 1000 employees download and regularly use the app in this first month (over 10% of the potential user base in four weeks
  • There’s a 70/30 iOS v Android split
  • 9am is the peak viewing time for content.
  • Thursday is the most popular day of the week in terms of reads
  • A third of our audience visit the app over the weekend

 

For me, this last stat is the most exciting and offers the most opportunity. If companies can create content that is so compelling we can get our employees to access, engage and even share with friends and families while on the sofa, down the shops or at the barbecue, we’re creating ambassadors, fans and new sales teams.

 

And while compelling stories are at the heart of its success (our exclusive internal behind the scenes content for the launch of the all-new Micra at the Paris Motor Show, as well as human interest posts such as management telling their tale of #MyFirstCar have been very successful), I’m delighted to see that the good old fashioned canteen menu is consistently one of the best-read articles of the week. Though – and important feedback here – the menu itself only received one ‘Like’.

 

Nissan is a global company, with thousands of employees around the world. In Europe alone we have over 15,000 direct employees and significantly more partners, contractors, suppliers and dealers. In fact. Over 70% of our full-time staff work in a factory and do not have a work email address, let alone a PC. Why would they? They’re the folks who bend metal, integrate software and are, in many cases literally, the engine room of our business. I don’t want them tapping away on a keyboard. I want them building Qashqai’s, LEAF’s and Navara’s. But I do want them to engage with the brand better. And know what’s going on in their business. And not be reliant on their manager (who may have varying degrees of communications skills) to land a message with them.

 

The good news is, we live in 2016, not 1916. The technological revolution is happening all around us, right now – we’re in its very midst – and yet, so many businesses are still acting like they’re stuck in the last century. The intranet is still very much the go-to dumping ground for an Internal Comms teams to ‘stick and tick’ (stick the latest Communication from a VP, and tick the box … Job done).

 

Internal Communications teams now have a golden opportunity to rise up out of their ‘poor relation to PR’ label (a bad place to be as PR has always been seen as the poor relation to marketing, which essentially puts IC professionals in the non-league bucket) and revolutionise what they do, who they are, what they can deliver and the impact they make.

 

While I’m a firm believe that the ‘Live’ (aka events) channel is the most powerful in terms of inspiring an audience (you can’t beat a visible, compelling leader, preaching from the pulpit of your corporations’ church), digital has to be a close second. In fact, because Live is the most expensive of all the internal channels, a ‘digital first’ strategy is most likely the go-to solution for any modern Internal Comms team. And, as we should all know by now, digital first means mobile first.

 

So why are so many businesses reliant on a web-based PC-reliant platform that does not mirror user behaviour in the real world? Outside of work, what product do you get your news from? Do you sit in your kitchen on a laptop every morning religiously reading the FT on your 15-inch screen? Are you one of the dying few who have an actual newspaper delivered to your door? I for one love the smell of newsprint in the morning, but I’m neither of those. And nor are the vast majority of people. As consumers of media, our behaviours have changed over the last decade, and with the advent of superfast mobile networks, we have become a mobile-first society.

 

Businesses wanting to connect with their employees are now in catch-up mode. Some haven’t even acknowledged that they need to change.

 

There are number of very good global companies out there who can help you with this – from the likes of off-the-shelf solutions such as Beem, to the bespoke brilliance of the Chelsea Apps Factory (full disclosure, I’m a shareholder in the latter).

 

The simple question you have to ask yourself is, if you were starting a business from scratch today, which was geographically diverse and had 1,000 people for you to reach on day one, would you invest 250,000 euros in an Intranet or a mobile app?

 

What do you think about Stuart’s stance on the intranet as a channel? Does it still have a place on the employee agenda? or buried as a relic of the nineties and noughties? Let us know in the comments!

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