Discover the secrets of effective intranets

Every year the Intranet Innovation Awards celebrate new and innovative approaches for intranets, enterprise social networks (ESNs) and digital workplaces around the globe.

What can we learn from the winning entries and what trends are emerging? What approach and designs are working well for organisations?

Steve BynghallSteve (pictured) is a freelance consultant and writer specialising in intranets, collaboration, the digital workplace and crowdsourcing. He coordinates the awards, which are run by Step Two in Australia.

The UK winners were crowned at the recent Intranet Now unconference here in London.

Congratulations to this year’s winning entries, here with the judges’ notes:

  • Barclays Bank (UK): A modern and engaging global learning curriculum with bite-sized content that empowers employees to manage their own learning.
  • BNY Mellon (USA): An ambitious personalised dashboard that exposes different types of data to change user behaviour.
  • Bureau Nationale Ombudsman (Netherlands): A beautifully designed digital workplace with innovative design features, drawing on content from different systems.
  • Danske Bank (Denmark): An IT Helpdesk portal that is truly centred on the user, encouraging a self-service approach and driving efficiencies.
  • GSK (UK): A superbly executed initiative to make hundreds of SharePoint sites on a global intranet brand compliant through the use of a new template.
  • HEINEKEN (Netherlands): A highly innovative story-telling platform for employees which uses video and can also be accessed externally by the general public.
  • Prestige Financial (USA): An excellent integration of customer and contact data into the intranet and search, transforming processes for frontline staff.
  • Robin Partington & Partners (UK): A fantastic custom-built digital workplace built from the ground up, packed with fascinating and engaging design features. .
  • Singapore Management University (Singapore): A truly excellent and ambitious modern intranet launch with some creative approaches to design and development.
  • SPIE-ICS (Netherlands): An intranet with a great twist on knowledge management where expertise is categorised through endorsements from employees.

Commended entries were: BGC Engineering (Canada), Centrica (UK), City of West Torrens (Australia), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Fish & Richardson (USA), MITRE (USA), Repsol (Spain) and TAFE Queensland (Australia).

This year’s entries reveal the following:

Smaller organisations deliver great intranets too

Digital workplaces aren’t constrained by an intranet mindset

Organisations are reimagining the way they resource teams

Enterprise mobility has hit a speed bump

Intranets and external digital channels are converging

Central teams empower site managers by innovating.

Here Steve, @Bynghall, writes for the All Things IC blog to share what he’s seeing in the world of intranets. Over to you Steve…

Aligning internal with external on the intranet

The blurring of internal and external channels has been a recurring theme in the intranet world.

While intranets are targeted at employees, some homepages feature externally-focused content, usually in the form of corporate Twitter feeds or other social media. Similarly, a handful of intranets are now partially “open” and can be viewed by the public over the intranet as with any other website.

Aligning internal and external messages so they are consistent has many positives.

It helps drive employee advocacy, improves awareness of customers among staff, encourages a culture of transparency, attracts new employees and ultimately helps support good customer service.

In this year’s Intranet Innovation Awards winners and commended entries there were some great examples of intranets which redefine the firewall and make that internal and external distinction even fuzzier.

Inside out

Making an intranet publicly available means it can act as an internal and external communication channel.

Heineken-International-logoAn example of this is the “Green Room”, launched by HEINEKEN. This features stories filmed by a group of volunteer employee reporters from all over the globe covering themes such as sales efforts, CSR initiatives, values, people, and other activities.

Stories are filmed using a series of Green Room handheld cameras and microphones which are loaned out to a location but with the film edited centrally, so that each video report has good production values.

While this set-up is quite unusual in itself, 70 percent of stories can also be viewed by the public at

There’s also information about different brands and HEIENEKEN’s presence in each country. The site is available in four languages, is optimised for mobile and comes wrapped up in an attractive design.


Above: A Green Room individual employee reporter page with links to her stories. Screenshot appears courtesy of HEINEKEN and Step Two.

The platform is not only cheaper than the combined cost of the internal digital magazine and external print magazine it replaced, but is also helping drive employee advocacy.

Because most content is available externally, employees are encouraged to share stories on external social media.

For example, on launch day an impressive seven out of ten employees in the Netherlands shared a story on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, by email or on another social channels.

Although the Green Room is wholly an internal communications initiative, external communications value the channel and have shared the content. Future cooperation on content between the two functions is planned and it is interesting to see how this will evolve.

Outside in

DNOThe internal and external blur also happens the other way with external sources available through the intranet.

Each year the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands receives over 34,000 complaints about the Dutch Government from members of the public.

Employees need access to a variety of internal and external sources to be able to deal effectively with these.

Reflecting this information need, the company drew up a digital workplace strategy with a view to delivering a new intranet.

One of the strands of the strategy was called “Inside out and outside in” which aimed to “show relevant external information and trends” and to “challenge the employees by looking through the eyes of civilians”.



Above: The National Ombudsman of the Netherlands expanding search bar includes internal and external sources. Screenshot appears courtesy of the National Ombudsman and Step Two.

The resulting intranet, called Nohow, features a number of external sources, including news articles but also official press releases from the National Ombudsman which reflects the organisation’s official position on different themes.

The intranet is also integrated with the company’s document management system, case management system and Yammer.

The integration of all these systems and sources is underpinned by some common tagging (taxonomy) and some innovative features which deliver a truly integrated internal and external view for employees.

A beautiful search feature delivers the top results across all the different systems, internal and external, in an expanded top search bar, while an “Official Stance” page displays the official view from the Ombudsman on different topics.

Meanwhile an activities page shows the level of activity on a particular topic from the previous day so that employees can prepare themselves for the likely public calls which are going to take place.

The organisation’s joined up view of internal and external and reflected in the digital workplace is helping to support employees.

Creating awareness of the customer voice

The efforts at the National Ombudsman are also about helping employees get into the minds of the employees and being aware of their issues. Other companies have done this less extensively, but with the same aim in mind.

For example, TAFE Queensland, an organisation providing further education, included a combined feed from their Facebook and Twitter account on their employee intranet homepage.

At British Gas there is a prominent feed headed “What people are saying.”  Employees can either select a tab which relays Yammer (internal) or the Twitter (external.)  The Twitter feed is unedited and shows interaction with customers, both good and bad.

The idea behind this was to bring “the voice of the customer…into the heart of the organisation.”

More information

Step-Two-logo-name-250px-newIf you want more information on the entries mentioned above as well as all the other winning and commended entries you can also the accompanying report, Innovative Intranets 2015.

This has 18 case studies and hundreds of intranet screenshots and is useful information and inspiration for anyone managing or planning an intranet or digital workplace. At just over £50 it’s also good value!

Post author: Steve Bynghall @Bynghall.

Thank you Steve. What do you make of what you’ve read? You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

New intranet masterclasses 

Need help with planning, design, governance, and management of your intranet?

I recommend attending  Sam Marshall’s upcoming intranet training workshops (24 and 25 November, 2015 in Moorgate, London).

Eventbrite - Intranet Success - ClearBox Masterclasses


  1. Geoff Talbot says:

    Great round up of some great Intranets here.

    For me the secret of a great Intranet is one that significantly helps the end user (typically the employee) solve really big problems in a profound way.

    This is why the Fax and Email were so quickly adopted, they saved the USER significant time, they helped them with their work etc…

    I wrote more about this here, I hope you don’t mind me sharing:

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