From Intranet to Digital Work Hub: Transforming Employee Experience in the 21st Century

By Anna Donnelly, Services Product Manager

When was the last time you really thought about your corporate intranet? Is it an essential tool used by everyone for communications and information on departments and processes, connecting with leadership, each other, and more? Or do you just think it is?

Only one in five employees view their intranet as an "indispensable work tool” — and yet, 74% say they're accessing it daily. Even if your intranet experience is superior to others, minimally, these statistics tell us there is room for improvement.

In part one of this blog series, 2003 Called and It Wants Its Workplace Back, I described the typical workday of old. Businesses still approach intranet experiences in ways that are familiar: dominated by corporate news and organized by department. Hopefully information is relevant, and hopefully users can find the right people or information they need — “hopefully” being the operative word.

If you ask me, I think we should dump the concept of the intranet altogether.

Redefining the workplace: Collaboration as the centerpiece

The idea of the “21st century intranet” is actually not an intranet, at least not in the traditional sense. The digital experience is too complex to anoint the corporate intranet (which at its core is just a website) as the best way to bring important business information to your employees in the digital age.

Future-forward digital work hubs don’t look like traditional web design taxonomies. They look more like the actual modern workplace with collaboration as the centerpiece — not a landing page full of corporate-curated information. Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Viva suite of tools have been building toward this for a while, with Teams as the new digital work hub.

Teams, the collaborative tool, is at the center of the employee experience and is supported by line-of-business apps (the “connection” and “insight” circles to the left of center), and Microsoft Viva as the organizationwide employee experience (the “growth” and “purpose” circles to the right of center).

Teams is meant to be the one place to go for everything — the new digital office, the digital work hub, the 21st century intranet. The new digital work hub won’t require end users to have a desktop for applications needing VPN, separate tools for meetings and collaboration, cloud apps, a URL for your intranet site, and more. Teams can be one place for everything, and all employees really need to get there is a browser.

How does Viva personalize the intranet experience?

When you put Teams and Microsoft Viva together, here’s what the digital work hub looks like: Users log in and are greeted by their Viva Connections homepage — one that houses not only corporate news but also access to apps, social features, and more. Viva Connections is the closest thing to a traditional intranet site where users will first see news and information from the organization, but this information can be targeted and customized to individual employees. Viva Engage is brought into the mix as the social platform that encourages interaction between employees, leaders, and more.

On the same Viva Connections homepage is an innovative dashboard that houses work-related apps and features relevant to employees, presented in a modern way. If your app is available in Teams, it can be easily added to the dashboard. Furthermore, when apps are packaged via Single Sign-On (SSO) in Teams, IT organizations never need to deploy an app to a device again, and employees never have to wonder how or where to get to them.

AI-powered employee experience

Corporate news, social, and apps aside, it’s still important for employees to find information related to functions and departments in your organization. This is where Viva Topics comes in. Viva Topics is really an extension of the intranet experience; however, instead of maintaining departmental sites that house information you hope is relevant, Viva Topics uses the magic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to determine what information is most needed. It then creates Topics pages in SharePoint for what it discovers and allows that information to be maintained by experts it identifies. Instead of having to search for content and experts, Topics are surfaced throughout the Microsoft 365 suite of tools.

Even more impressive is that content in Viva Topics is always relevant because the information contained on Topics pages is meant to be crowdsourced. If someone leaves your organization, AI will always find additional people contributing to Topics who can keep information up to date. If it seems as though I'm enamored with the amazing things Viva Topics can do, it’s because I am. When you marry it with the functionality throughout Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva, it is a phenomenal and innovative productivity tool.

Embrace the future.

In closing, I’ll take you back to the question I first asked: When was the last time you thought about your corporate intranet? As you look into Insight and Microsoft’s shared vision for the digital workplace of the future, perhaps you’ll agree with me that the 21st century intranet isn’t an intranet at all — rather, it's a living workplace integral to the success of your employees and your business.

This blog is part of a series — look out for part three where we’ll take an even deeper dive into Microsoft Viva. Topics include:

  • Giving employees better experiences
  • Making communications easier to manage and measure
  • Benefits of Microsoft 365 productivity (Teams) Viva Connections, Engage, and Amplify

With skills spanning everything from collaboration to end-user support, device lifecycle, security, and beyond, Insight can help you realize your modern workplace vision. If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft Viva, the new work hub, and Insight’s other modern workplace solutions, contact us today.