5 things traditional Intranet Portals fail at

Traditional Intranet portals appeared in the 90s. Organized following enterprise organisation charts present static information to each employee depending on their department.
They were an innovative way to communicate at the time, especially when compared to an email or a paper newsletter. Intranets gained wide entrance into organizations of different sizes and profiles.
traditional intranet portal


Today, Intranet solutions have evolved to include a lot more than simple information aggregation. So much so that the vocabulary shifted as more and more companies talked about digital workplaces or collaboration platforms. A lot of companies upgrade their Intranets for modernized solutions, again transforming the way that they communicate and work internally.
However, we still, surprisingly, encounter prospects who introduce their very first Intranets and ask for a disguised version of a traditional Intranet – a place where news would be displayed. If you are wondering what you would be missing, here is a short list:

1. Traditional Intranet Portals fail at engaging your employees

If you are looking for your first Intranet, you are probably trying to build corporate culture and engage your employees in a meaningful way around your corporate message.
But, Intranet portals focus on sharing content, which employees can view/read or not. There is no way for readers to react to the information provided, share it with someone, like it, comment on it, or engage in a dialogue. In fact, no one may read your content and you will never know, which brings us to the next point:

2. Traditional Intranet Portals fail at helping your communications

As employees have no way to engage with the information, you have no easily available metrics at your disposal to follow your communications’ impact in real time and improve it to drive those metrics. Your team posts an article and… nothing. It’s similar to a survey which cannot possibly be performed every day and has its challenges, so your team works blindly. Not to mention that your top management surely loves metrics and would find them helpful when justifying a communications budget.

Types of Digital workplace solutions

The modern workplace has evolved significantly in recent years, with advancements in technology, the growing number of tools …

3. Traditional Intranet Portals fail at helping your employees work together

Portal Intranets have no collaboration functionalities. Each employee consults its Intranet by themselves, individually. They may be able to consult the company directory but will have no way of engaging with others or working with them on common projects.

4. Traditional Intranet Portals fail at helping your employees share knowledge

In most companies, knowledge can be found in a great number of places. And, it’s important to remember that your company knowledge is constantly evolving – as someone somewhere solves a particular problem, makes a new client presentation, a new design, a new idea, etc. Actually, the most valuable knowledge often lies silently in the heads of your employees.
While traditional intranets may offer access to your company’s document database, they fail to allow your knowledge base to grow and evolve. Your employees will not be able to contribute to your knowledge base or share knowledge and exchange it with a pure portal intranet.

5. Traditional Intranet Portals fail at helping you build your corporate culture

Countless books and articles were written on the subject of great corporate cultures and how to create and nurture them. One thing is certain, showering your employees with corporate messages and pictures does not work. Corporate culture is about learning from others and emulating certain types of behaviours – this cannot be done with a traditional intranet. The latter provides no way for employees to interact with each other or see positive behaviours in others outside of their immediate team.
Traditional intranets fail at a lot of things. The good news is that new generation intranets address all of the above and more. So, why go with a skoda, when you can have a ferrari?
Want to learn more about the business impact of digital collaboration?
Discover the new generation company intranet

Digital Workplace FAQs

You will find here Frequently Asked Questions about intranet with all the answers in one place.

A digital workplace is a next generation of intranet solutions or intranet 2.0 that is based on three pillars: communication, collaboration and information. In a way this definition is true but it doesn’t cover the whole spectrum of the term. Here are some definitions of digital workplace:

  • An evolution of the intranet
  • A user centric digital experience

See the full definition of digital workplace

intranet is a term used with abundance whenever the subject of internal communication and collaboration is brought up which makes defining it a bit challenging. In its simplest form, an intranet is an internal website for your organization. It is used mainly for top-down communication where employees can access corporate news, policies and announcements.


See the full definition of intranet

Collaboration is “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing”.


See the full definition of collaboration

Here are some definitions of digital workplace:


  • Team collaboration
  • Cross-departmental and interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Community collaboration
  • Strategic partnerships and alliances
  • Supply chain collaboration


Find out the different types of collaboration in business

To gather a thorough understanding of intranets and their different types, let’s walk through its history from the early days up to now:

  1. Intranet Portals
  2. Enterprise Social Netwrok (ESN)
  3. Intranet 2.0

Find out the different types of intranet solutions

The main difference between intranets and extranets lays in the target audience. Intranets typically target users from a specific organization whereas extranets is the hub that can group users from multiple external organizations ranging from partners and suppliers all the way to clients


Discover the real difference between intranet and extranet

Different types of Intranet solutions from the early days up to the intranet 2.0 (commonly referred to as digital workplace solutions) bring a host of benefits to businesses of all sizes and industries. Below is a list of benefits often associated with intranets:

  1. Streamline internal communications
  2. Connect employees and eliminate silos
  3. Foster collaboration
  4. Improve knowledge sharing
  5. Recognize and reward employees

Find out teh benefits of intranet solutions

Here are three different strategies for a successful intranet adoption:

  1. User focus strategy
  2. Global community management strategy
  3. Private communities focus strategy

Which intranet adoption strategy should you choose?

4.6/5 - (61 votes)
I am the Chief Executive Officer of eXo Platform (the open source digital workplace platform), a company that I co-founded while in college and that I came back to after several years in the banking and consulting industry. I blog about modern work, about open-source and sovereignty issues. Occasionally, I also blog about my personal areas of interest, such as personal development, work–life balance, sustainability and gender equality.
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Odessa Winston
Odessa Winston
1 September 2017 2 h 56 min

Neat article Veronika! Those that you have mentioned above are indeed the very reasons why traditional intranets need to evolve themselves into something greater — one that could provide those that traditional intranet couldn’t — something that is called a “social intranet.