Business & Value, Leadership

Web Workplace – a new word for intranet?

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in April 2009 ……

Part 1: We need to find a new word for “intranet”.

Why? Because we need to wake people up, lose the “dead weight” we have with the word “intranet”, help people – especially top management – focus on why intranets are business critical.

I turned to the members of NetJMC & Co, the Intranet manager group I run on Linkedin (over 300 members around the globe), and asked them the following…

“The word “intranet” is out-of-date in my opinion. I’m often asked how I defined “intranet” for the Global Intranet Strategies Survey, and I confess it is getting harder and harder to have a meaningful definition.

I’m considering concepts like “the intranet-enabled workplace” or the “web-enabled workplace” or the “connected workplace”.

I need to find a phrase that embraces all the things intranets do (or could do) for people and for business.

Can you help me find a phrase or word for this?

Ideally we need a term or phrase that also speaks to senior management. ”

Here’s the brainstorm that resulted from my question:

  • Web office
  • Online office
  • Online interactive workspace
  • Online workspace
  • Online interactive website
  • Online desktop
  • Online workplace
  • My workplace available anytime anywere
  • Employee Connected Office
  • Collaborative Employee Workspace
  • Mobile workspace
  • My deskspace
  • Workspace anywhere
  • Employee Portal
  • Resource and Collaboration Portal
  • Communications and information mangement platform / portal
  • Workplace Web – getting business done – Together
  • Company information, news and collaboration portal
  • Workplace Channel
  • Communication and Information Channel
  • Workplace Connections
  • Web Workplace
  • My Collective and Personal Workplace
  • Adaptive Workplace
  • Intranet Portal
  • Workbench
  • Online-Desktop

My personal favourite from this list is the Web Workplace. I like it because:

  • It is not limited to internal, and expresses the business need to provide workspaces for mixed teams (internal + external)
  • It focuses on work, business, what people need to do.
  • It can be abbreviated into WW!


Part 2: Why?

I’ve come to understand that intranet managers in companies where the intranet is already at Stage 3 (advanced) do not feel a need to change the vocabulary.

This is for one of 2 reasons:

  • They already have strong brands for their intranets that connote “online workplace”


  • Their users are focused on services offered by the intranet and relate to those services more than the platform itself where those services reside (= the intranet).In these cases, the intranet has become invisible and is simply a transparent platform for essential services.

Organisations where the intranet is not yet positioned as essential work tools DO feel the need for a new term. “Web workplace” resonates with them. They believe it will help them trigger senior management interest because the term carries the purpose of what they are trying to achieve.

  • “Thanks for opening up the discussion about what terms could replace the outdated intranet. “
  • “To me, telling someone that I manage strategic direction and content management for our web workplace for employees provides a much clearer understanding of my role than referring to the intranet.”

It is easy to say that words do not make a difference: it’s what we do that counts. That’s true when we are in the “friendly territory” of intranet-land where Intranet managers talk to each other and to business people who have “understood”.

When we move to potentially “hostile territory” (just joking, but only a little) we need to change our language. I have a client I’m helping prepare for a 15 minute presentation to the top management board of his company. (90,000 employees). He has a short slot on their heavily-charged agenda (at a moment where the economic climate is tough) to request a multi-million euro budget to build an enterprise portal over the next 3 years.

What should he call the “thing” he is talking about? The intranet? The “enterprise portal”? The “web workplace”? How does he explain what he is talking about? Which term speaks for itself?

Words make a difference. They trigger reactions. They represent values. They are the “elevator pitch” which is what most intranet managers have a lot of trouble doing.

What term to you think works best from a “senior management perception” viewpoint?