Business & Value, Strategy & Decision-making

Does your intranet make a difference for your customers?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in June 2011 ……

How does your intranet help your customers? I mean your external customers. The ones who buy and use your services and products.

The ultimate purpose of an intranet

The ultimate purpose of an intranet is to help an organization better serve its customers or the public in the case of governments.

In the “intranet world” there’s a tendency to forget that. We too often talk about improved communication, collaboration and task efficiency as if they were objectives in themselves. There might have been more executive support years earlier if our language had been more business-oriented.

But times are changing and the results from this year’s Digital Workplace Trends survey will hopefully provide 2 things:

  1. A sense of progress in aligning intranets to business needs, be it business towards customers or services for users
  2. Ammunition for those who need to push internally to go further in this direction

Intranet business indicators

Our list of strategic goals for the intranet has been revised this year, after maintaining the same key indicators for the last 4 years. It’s more granular and includes (along with other items):

  • Improve/accelerate customer service
  • Streamline core activity/business processes
  • Reduce costs
  • Speed up decision-making
  • Facilitate access to experts/expertise

Mobile inside and out?

In our section on mobile, we focus on mobile services for employees, but have also included one question about mobile services for customers. It will be interesting to what types of organizations are working on mobile services both internally and externally.

Customer-facing workforce

There is an open question asking: How are you using your intranet to streamline or enhance your services to external customers? Is it integrated into customer-facing business processes?

Some enterprises are clarifying the business alignment of their intranet. A large bank recently told me how they broke their workforce into 3 groups:

  1. Front line workforce with customer contact (talking to many customers, selling products, following an organized process with some individual interpretation)
  2. Back office workforce (limited task area, very defined processes, high efficiency is king)
  3. Analytical work (experts, no defined processes, high need for knowledge networks)

These 3 groups will have very different expectations from the intranet. The bank intranet team have just begun to develop a strategy for each of these groups.

Is your intranet strategy sufficiently aligned to your business?