What key trends is Professional Advantage seeing for the future of your intranet? SharePoint solution specialist, Alex Dean tells what he’s expecting and where we have come from to get there.

What is the intranet of the future going to look like? To answer that question we need to look at the advances in technology so far, especially at the internet, the younger brother of the intranet which has been driving all the innovation and advances we see in intranet platforms today.


The mobile phone is dead. Long live the mobile internet.

On average we are spending close to 3 hours a day on our smartphone/tablet/phablet (Flurry Analytics, 2014). We now spend more time on our mobile internet devices than watching TV.


Future of intranets_fig 1_time spent on mbile devices and TV


Mobile internet is demanding the attention of the world’s population and with it, causing a huge shift in usage patterns, needs and device technologies.

In the late 80s, the internet was defined by a series of weird sounding tones, Compuserve dialups, chat rooms, terminal connections, and war machines playing tic-tac-toe. The 90 was where the web revolution took place introducing the world wide web, which redefined the use of the internet to not just connect people, but store and disseminate information. The available information just flooded the internet and grew exponentially; and subsequently we welcome the first internet search engines (Altavista, Excite, InfoSeek might ring a bell with some still).

In the 00s the internet went crazy. It went fully mobile with email appearing on phones and access to the web (initially WAP, then full http). Another key driver for both the mobile web and the success of the internet was the advancement of search engines such as Google and the monetary impact they had on businesses leveraging their power. You could look up stuff. And find stuff! And buy stuff! This latter aspect, e-commerce, has had a huge impact on the development of the internet, with billions of dollars being spent and earned on the internet now.

So what about the 10s? What have been the big changes in the past 5 years defining the internet? Apps! More time is spent on apps than browsing the mobile web.

You might ask, how do the advances in internet technologies shape our intranets? Aren’t they completely different things? Not at all. While the early intranets created the foundations of the world wide web. The web has since driven the development of newer and better intranets. Companies required better looking web sites; hello content management systems. Consequently all intranets today are built on content management systems that use technology that was designed for the web. Information overload was answered by the advent of search engines. The most powerful feature of modern intranets is their search engines.

The latest trend in intranet advances is the integration of social communication tools. And it’s proving to be hugely successful.


So what’s next? Look to the clouds!

The battle of the giants (Google & Microsoft) is blurring the boundaries of the web and the intranet more and more. Google docs, Google Apps and Google Mail have introduced thousands of organisations to the concept of having their intranet and all their communications in the cloud. Similarly Microsoft has completely re-strategised their operations into a cloud-first, mobile-first approach and has made huge advancements in cloud-based intranets through Office 365 and OneDrive.


In 5 years’ time the concept of a physically connected local area network serving as a backbone to an intranet server, and delivering web pages to local office workers will be reserved for government, academia and the military again.

  • Mobile apps will deliver key daily insights into organisational data and business intelligence.
  • Social apps will connect staff with news, updates and provide a platform for meaningful interactions.
  • Location-aware apps will provide company alerts and health and safety announcements.
  • Touch-optimised intranets will provide key documentation and insights at your fingertips.


What about ten years’ time?

The Internet of Things will continue to grow and shape our future:

  • Wearable devices such as activity trackers will provide statistics and encouragement for the health awareness campaigns driven by the HR department.
  • Smart watches will integrate voice commands into social interactions, communications and reporting.
  • Emails will become obsolete, replaced with instant messaging, social discussion boards and knowledge management tools that provide instant expert advice when and where you need it.


Intranets will become more ‘meaningful’; capturing knowledge will become automated. Search engines, with advances in natural language recognition and artificial intelligence, will be able to disseminate communications, conversations and documentation into knowledge nuggets. Search engines will no longer use keywords as the basis of their algorithms but instead meaning.

I also expect to see dramatic advances in the display of search results. Today we get highlights and automated translations. By adding technology around analysing and transforming the information in the article, search results will provide not just some random list of links or targeted excerpts, but instead auto-generated synopsis’ of the results, based on the meaning and refinements of the search terms.


Read more about Professional Advantage and intranets and portals here.

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