The benefits of an intranet for connecting and engaging a workforce are clear, but sometimes it’s necessary to show what else an internal communications platform can do. Protect your digital workplace budget, win stakeholder support, and increase intranet usage across your organization with these 23 advantages of an intranet.
Economic forecasts suggest that 2023 will be challenging for businesses. Predictions of a global recession are already causing companies to search for ways to reduce overheads: inevitably resulting in increased scrutiny of the digital tools that internal teams use. With limited opportunities for growth, financial decision makers are streamlining existing costs and pulling hard on the emergency brake of future investment.
However, rather than worry about resources being taken away from your intranet, now is the perfect time to create greater awareness of the overlooked benefits an intranet can have for your whole organization — not just communicators.
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By showing how your intranet can help the organization meet its goals, you will be in a better position to secure investment for a new project or protect existing resources.
This article contains everything you need to know about showing how a modern intranet is mission critical for all.
10 benefits of an intranet you already know about
1. Intranets improve communication and productivity
Internal communication is probably the most important of the many intranet use cases.
The intranet is often the primary way of connecting employees with company news, events, and resources.
Interact’s 2022 workplace communication surveys revealed that 51% of internal communicators say that the intranet is the best way to communicate with employees.
The intranet is a preferred comms channel because advances in CMS intranet software now mean that it is a creative hub rather than a place to just post PDFs or host Word documents. Communicators treat the intranet as an enterprise website, creating bespoke content using rich-media formats and then issue or schedule multichannel notifications via email, mobile app alerts, digital signage, SMS, and more.
In this sense, the best intranets are an entire comms ecosystem for an internal audience.
Aside from the obvious personal and cultural benefits of improved communication, the improved communication enabled by enterprise-grade intranets also have a major impact on workplace productivity and profitability.
Research by McKinsey Global Institute suggests that improved workplace communication results in a 20-25% improvement in productivity for knowledge workers. Something to remember when outlining the case for new or continued investment.
2. Intranets help improve employee engagement
Employee engagement is a challenge for most organizations. Gallup estimates that disengaged workers cost the global economy $7.8 trillion per year, and that only 21% of people are engaged at work.
When companies get engagement right, however, it is beneficial for company culture and profitability.
Employee engagement is a consistent predictor of many organizational outcomes — including customer loyalty, profitability and sales. A more recent Gallup study found that engagement was an even stronger predictor of organizational performance during recessions than in non-recession times.Gallup
There are many ways an intranet can help improve employee engagement, including through user personalization.
Many intranet platforms now enable users to customize the content they see by following Topics they are interested in and changing notifications to suit their preferences. This means the system can automatically surface the material most likely to interest each user, naturally leading to more exploration and engagement.
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Advanced intranet software may also feature AI-based recommendations of suggested Topics for each user based on past activity. Similar to consumer-grade “You may also like” tools, personalization is a powerful way of ensuring the most relevant intranet content engages more people.
3. Search makes finding internal information fast and easy
One problem with older intranets was that internal search engines did not work well enough.
Bad search experiences put many people off using their company’s intranet either because it did not surface the right information (through lacking important keywords or not indexing all sources of information) or it surfaced information that was out of date or inaccessible (through a lack of SharePoint security permissions, for example).
When a modern intranet is equipped with an integrated search that covers all document management systems, intranet content, hosted resources, blogs, and more, it becomes easy to rapidly check the information you are looking for.
Used properly, the intranet is a one-stop shop for information that enhances productivity and reduces frustration. It should:
- Search the entirety of your intranet, including connected instances of SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Box, and Google Drive
- Display search results sorted by relevance
- Give priority to important pages in results (set by your intranet manager)
- Have search filters to refine any results returned
- Offer the ability to search in the user’s language for translated pages
- Have a mobile app that replicates search engine experience and results
4. Intranets help employees find their colleagues
A comprehensive, searchable people directory is a well-known advantage of a modern intranet.
This is essential in 2023 because as our workplaces expand internationally it becomes harder to simply “ask around” to find the best person to assist you on a project or to connect with socially.
If you work in an enterprise with thousands of staff operating in different locations, that kind of approach is impossible.
With an intranet-based people directory though, employees can find co-workers using a variety of criteria, including expertise, skills, or departments. The people directory can also give them the information they need to connect, once again smoothing their journey and improving their employee experience.
Let’s say you’re new to an organization and your manager asks you to lead a project that requires someone with knowledge of email marketing. Assuming relevant team members have added this as part of their intranet profiles, you can simply search for the keyword, filter by person, and have a fast way of connecting with everyone who has the skills you need.
The news is also good for your IT department’s workload because automated synchronization with Azure Directory, Workday, Okta and on-premise Active Directory means that updates to employee profiles are reflected throughout the intranet.
If a person leaves the organization, for example, this should cascade into the intranet without any manual intervention on IT’s part.
5. Intranets enable global collaboration
Collaboration is the heart of every business, but that can be difficult when people operate in different time zones and languages.
However, if your intranet enables asynchronous communication and automatically translates content into over 110 languages, every employee can receive updates in their preferred language on their preferred devices.
Any member of an organization can share best practices they have learned and then be assured that it can be translated for those reading it around the world.
6. Intranets streamline communications during a crisis
The past few years have shown how unexpected emergencies can result in rapid changes. During a crisis, your senior leaders will have several priorities, including:
- Ensuring staff are safe
- Confirming receipt of messages
- Telling staff not to come to offices or other locations
- Communicating alternative working arrangements
- Providing updates on home working practices
An intranet is integral to these important tasks as it connects people across a wide range of comms channels.
When people are searching for answers, one of the fastest ways to update them is to send notifications via email, mobile app, and SMS. This draws them to a single source of truth or resource center, which can be centrally controlled and updated fast. This results in clear communication and an adherence to business continuity plans.
7. An intranet connects the frontline with the rest of the company
Connecting with frontline workers is one of the biggest challenges for communicators and businesses. Organizational changes and news apply to everyone, but they are easily missed by people working in transport, warehouses, or other locations with no access to computers.
How can you improve the chance of frontline workers seeing important content?
An intranet with mobile capabilities and digital signage is part of the answer. By adding QR codes to digital signage updates for example, communicators can encourage staff to check in to the intranet to read more and ensure they don’t miss vital changes.
8. Creates a space for DE&I content
Companies are making important commitments to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and it is best practice to use your intranet as a centralized storehouse for all DE&I initiatives and resources.
By collating all information in one place you can regularly update the entire organization and encourage a wider range of people to participate.
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Without a digital home for DE&I content, individuals and groups may miss important updates or fail to see groups and opportunities that could benefit them.
9. Drives employee satisfaction through recognition and rewards
In addition to greater scrutiny of technologies and processes, difficult financial circumstances may result in employers finding it harder to award bonuses or pay increases.
In a scenario where financial rewards are reduced, non-monetary recognition through a workplace rewards and recognition program may have a greater role to play in maintaining morale.
Recognition is essential to good employee experience, and being recognized by peers and senior leaders in a public forum can help improve job satisfaction and engagement. So, when times are tough, a little recognition on your intranet may help improve morale.
Commit to recognition processes through company-wide intranet announcements, internal newsletters, or in staff meetings, to ensure hard work is celebrated. Also consider a peer-awarded points system on your intranet as a way of offering people smaller yet significant perks, such as gift vouchers.
10. Strengthen hybrid culture through better communication
As work becomes increasingly dispersed, more people are spending time away from locations and co-workers. This may be good for individuals and their work-life balance, but there is also a growing body of thought to suggest that corporate culture is waning as a result of this hybridization of work.
How can communicators and people-focused teams make corporate culture solid again?
As the only piece of digital workplace software customized and branded to reflect your company’s culture and values, your intranet is the natural home for company culture.
And there are many ways you can encourage culture through internal communication. One way is to create a blogging platform that everyone can use to share their stories and experiences with the organization.
Without an accessible publishing platform for diverse voices, many people – especially remote and hybrid workers – can feel marginalized. By giving more of your company’s authors and content creators the tools to share engaging, rich-media blogs on your intranet, you can ensure that more voices are heard and a stronger corporate culture can be forged.
The points above are regularly highlighted when discussing the advantages and benefits of an intranet.
During periods when software is scrutinized and projects are put on hold though, talk of culture can seem “fluffy” to CFOs who want to know the measurable impact for the whole company.
That’s why we’ve got 13 lesser-known ways your intranet can deliver value for more than internal communications.
13 overlooked advantages of an intranet for your organization
If you need some recession-proof arguments to convince decision-makers that 2023 is the right time for investment, these 13 tips may help.
11. The benefits of an intranet for customer service
Good customer service is at the heart of successful businesses.
How important is customer service? 95% of consumers say it’s essential to them maintaining their loyalty to a brand, and a further 60% have switched to a rival company because of a poor customer service experience.
It’s important that every tool in your digital workplace can also support your customer service agents, and an intranet can. How? In these three ways.
- In physical locations: One of the biggest differences between high and low performing customer service agents is training and product knowledge. In fact, 83% of high performers say they get the training they need, but only 52% of underperformers say the same. Your intranet can support consumer-facing staff on the frontline with training resources and up-to-date product information.
There will be many times each day when customers ask about the technical specifications of your latest product offering, this semester’s courses, or when an item is due in stock.
This kind of information is often split across multiple systems, but your intranet is a built-in resource that can easily store everything in a searchable format. By setting up a knowledge base that all staff can access through mobile and desktop, you can ensure they will have an instant answer for customers whether they’re operating from their own device or from a corporate kiosk.
- Using an intranet in eCommerce and call centers: The advantages of a corporate intranet don’t stop at brick-and-mortar stores. The ubiquity of live chats and computer-phone interactions mean that many customer service conversations now take place online, in a setting where it’s even easier for agents to have live access to your organization’s entire resource base.
By enabling consumer-facing staff to instantly retrieve changing information, your company can centrally post updates in one place and cascade them for the purposes of internal communication and customer service alike.
- Public intranet pages as a self-service option: In many cases, customers may prefer to resolve queries for themselves rather than speaking with someone in your organization.
A self-service knowledge base containing FAQs and product outlines may not fit easily into the architecture of your corporate website though, and the investment and resources required for a dedicated customer website can be significant.
Again, your intranet could be a solution that benefits the entire organization. A properly configured CMS intranet may enable you to build intranet pages and then publish them to a public web address. Having a single page (or automated chat) pointing consumers to these links can reduce the number of pages on your actual website and still allow customers to resolve queries on their own.
12. An intranet improves employee experience through preboarding, onboarding, and offboarding
Attracting and retaining staff for the long term relies on creating a frictionless employee experience at every stage.
The digital workplace is an important part of this process as it should provide every employee with easy access to resources, company culture, important tools, and co-workers. From the moment they’re hired to the day they leave, the intranet should be fundamental to their success.
- Preboarding: When engaging new staff, don’t wait for Day One to begin welcoming them to the organization.
Even before someone’s first day your intranet can provide preboarding access to information that you restrict based on their status as a pending employee. Content may include company organograms, teaser content around your locations or digital workplace tools, FAQs from new starters, recommended contacts and mentors, and messages from the CEO.
Preboarding is your chance to show a new recruit your company culture and reinforce that they made the right decision in joining you.
- Onboarding: We know that onboarding is one of the most important moments in the employee experience lifecycle. It is the first time a new hire gets to see your internal systems and processes. Getting it right at this early stage can improve their overall experience; get them up to speed faster and this may make them less likely to leave soon after.
But just 12% of employees think their employers do a great job with onboarding.
At a time when saving money by reducing employee turnover is key, organizations may be looking for better ways to onboard, which can lead to expensive new platforms that only serve one purpose.
An intranet supports effective onboarding by housing content that familiarizes new starters with the business’ culture, tools, and processes. Embedding videos, resources, mandatory read pages, and quizzes can also deliver the training a new hire needs.
- Offboarding: An amicable and professional offboarding process can expedite knowledge transfer and retain positive relationships when someone leaves a business.
While formal exit interviews are the first choice when discussing a person’s experience with a company, pulse surveys can also gather additional information and help to build a strong dataset about employee experience, internal processes, and job satisfaction.
If information about a leaver’s status exists within a human capital management platform (e.g., Workday), it may be possible to automate pulse surveys within your intranet so that they are automatically and regularly sent to leavers during their offboarding period.
Another advantage of a corporate intranet platform is that it retains subject matter expertise that might otherwise be lost due to people exiting. Whether you provide them with author rights or ask them to work with an intranet manager, their knowledge will be codified for the rest of the organization.
13. Use your intranet to reduce regular queries to IT, HR, and Finance
The intranet is the natural home for your organization’s information, and that includes all the same FAQs that virtually every employee has at some point about benefits, expenses, setting up new laptops, approved software programs, cybersecurity, changing (or recovering) passwords, and a million other things they regularly email your IT, HR, and Finance teams about.
Not every query can be answered on an intranet page, but many can. When you couple comprehensive (and regularly updated) intranet pages with a search tool that returns the key terms people are searching for, you can reduce the number of queries sent to IT.
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This can free up IT and other core teams to perform other work, streamlining other areas of the business. If your enterprise uses Jira or another ticket-based support system you can also include a prominent widget on the intranet so employee queries are routed through a manageable system rather than stored in email inboxes.
14. A CMS intranet removes the need for email software
Email platforms can offer engaging designs and intuitive functionality. However, they also represent yet another cost for organizations seeking to streamline spending.
What you may not know is that a multichannel intranet can also deliver relevant, well-designed content into people’s inboxes. Modern solutions support intranet email distribution with no loss of creativity.
Interact supports two ways you can reach employees without having to rely on third-party email tools.
First, the Email Digest allows the automated sending of a round-up of all the latest pages, blogs, events, and forum discussions on the intranet. Each Digest can be customized in terms of its design and the content tailored to individual employees.
This means that workload can be reduced for communicators as they don’t need to create new content for an email newsletter. Email Digest enables them to let the system surface relevant intranet content for interested readers.
Secondly, Email Newsletters are a manual email format easily created with the Interact Block Editor. An intranet content author can use the intuitive CMS to create an email featuring content for the entire organization or teams in different countries or locations.
These two options can be a simple way to reduce workload and decrease the costs of using a third-party email app.
15. Conduct employee surveys on a platform employees use (and trust)
Employee surveys are an important part of the modern workplace but the increase in remote and hybrid working arrangements has made it harder to administer in-person questionnaires. As a result, many companies have turned to digital survey platforms.
One overlooked benefit of an intranet though is that HR and employee experience teams do not need to pay for employee survey platforms because modern intranets can do the same job without adding another app to the digital workplace.
The intranet can potentially be even more effective because it:
- is already integrated to the workplace and your communication channels.
- does not need another procurement process.
- is trusted by employees.
This last point is critical. When properly governed and updated, the intranet becomes a trusted place where employees regularly go for news and resources. If survey respondents trust the platform, they may be more likely to respond truthfully.
Why is trust important to employee surveys? Because any kind of survey is yet another way that organizations gather data about people. Research by the Open Data Institute (ODI) suggests that nearly nine in ten people believe it is important or very important that organizations they interact with use data about them ethically.
If you can show employees that the questions they are answering are staying within the company and its already established data protocols, they may be more inclined to trust the information will be used ethically.
Adding the ability to conduct employee surveys to the range of functions the intranet can perform will embed it further, maximize its usage, and get more people excited about working with it. Best of all, it may save money during lean economic times too.
One Interact customer saw survey responses triple after switching from Google Forms to Interact’s Pulse Surveys!
16. An intranet can connect offline workers through digital signage
Intranet software is a digital technology that can also appear in physical locations.
Although many organizations now incorporate elements of remote work, most still have physical spaces such as factories, warehouses, hospitals, and other places that require an in-person presence.
Many frontline workers in these spaces cannot easily access resources and news because they work away from computers or mobile devices.
One of the solutions organizations use to keep these individuals connected is digital signage. By broadcasting key content on screens in reception areas, breakrooms, and hallways, the business can show content to an employee during their working day. This is especially impactful during busy periods such as sales or the holidays when employees have even less time to check comms.
What are the benefits of digital signage for internal communication?
- Visually striking, animated content
- QR codes that encourage viewers to “pull” more information from a comprehensive source
- Ability to show relevant news about emergency protocols or consumer-related updates
- Content can be targeted to specific geographical regions or work locations (e.g., different content for the office in New York City and the factories in Nebraska)
- A native system means content can be created and previewed in the same system as other comms, giving greater control over branding and delivery
As with employee survey and email tools though, many companies choose to implement another third-party platform, which introduces delays and costs.
What are the disadvantages of an external digital signage platform for internal communication?
- Content may need to be continually recreated if the digital signage platform is unconnected to the rest of the digital workplace
- It is another system that requires software integration and internal training to use
- Cost of implementation
- Research and procurement process takes time
The good news for financial decision-makers (and end-user employees) is that digital signage should now be a feature in any modern intranet you are using or considering.
Intranet admins can easily create relevant content and broadcast it on existing screens using URLs or low-cost Windows PC sticks. This may reduce costs and optimize usage of the organization’s existing infrastructure.
17. Use your intranet to improve social selling
Not every tool within the digital workplace will lead to increased sales and better brand awareness, but your intranet can.
Indeed, if the Sales and Marketing professionals in your organization aren’t already using the intranet to help them develop key relationships then now is the time to get them involved.
As social media has developed, so has the concept of social selling.
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In short, social selling means enabling sales personnel to use your organization’s brand and resources to build trusted and productive relationships with potential customers.
Example — Your company appoints a new Vice President of Sales for the US. That person comes from a different industry, so they have no background or access to resources that show them to be knowledgeable about your product or service. By giving them easy access to key ebooks, white papers, data sheets, and brand visuals, you facilitate their rise to a position of authority.
If they struggle to find the same material, spend time chasing colleagues, or use out-of-date material, this can all delay their progress and undermine the company’s commercial objectives.
Your intranet can support social selling and brand advocacy because it is the ideal place to create a searchable and easily updated store of marketing information and brand resources.
Is social selling worth it? LinkedIn data says yes.
- Businesses that are leaders in the social selling space create 45% more sales opportunities than brands with a low social selling index
- Businesses that prioritize social selling are 51% more likely to reach their sales quotas
- 78% of businesses that use social selling outsell businesses that don’t use social media
If your Sales team knows that the Social Selling intranet area is the most authoritative place for information, they will go there and use that material rather than posting out-of-date research or using incorrect logo formats.
This consolidates the brand and gives everyone a better experience without having to resort to ad hoc emails.
18. Use your intranet to outperform the competition
Silos can kill collaboration in a business. When each team has its own system or software (often locking information away in SharePoint folders that only one team has permission to see), knowledge is compartmentalized, and best practices are not shared.
This could apply to every department in your organization, but here we take the example of a Sales team.
Commercial success involves knowing what competitors in the same market are also doing. A Sales team will regularly collect information about its competitors from a wide and diverse set of sources, including conversations with prospective customers and information received from industry peers.
Information may include a competitor’s pricing, product roadmap, or its latest product demo. These are all valuable pieces of background for the Sales team because they help to answer questions that potential customers might have about how different competitors work.
Sales professionals within an organization may share this research in the CRM or between themselves in emails and meetings, but if the information is not codified and formalized it can be lost to everyone else in the company.
The same information, when added to intranet pages or forums, however, can be accessed by a much wider range of people (depending on security permissions). The knowledge can be kept up to date and rich-media pages can use video, pdfs, and images to create a more engaging experience.
Suddenly, the intranet becomes a mission critical source of analysis for:
- A Product team focused on developing new offerings for the company
- A Marketing team considering how to launch its latest campaign
- Operations managers wondering about the impact of moving into different territories
- Senior leaders considering the impact of pricing changes
- Customer success managers who want to improve their interactions with customers
An intranet embeds knowledge so that it becomes centralized, searchable, easily updated, and not stored in private silos.
Properly deployed, an intranet unlocks the knowledge held across your organization.
19. The benefits of an intranet for CSMs and subscription customers
As outlined above, intranets support instantaneous retail transactions and enquiries because they can provide customer-service agents with access to details about products or services.
An intranet also has value for other business models, however, including companies selling products or services on a recurring subscription basis (such as SaaS software platforms).
Having long-term customers means that over time their use of your product or service will go up or down, and your organization may use customer success managers (CSMs) or account managers to support those customers into using the service in a way that creates value for them. In the case of B2B SaaS businesses, for example, a CSM will regularly contact the customer to discuss the product and what more the company can do to help.
This may include discussing how to expand their subscription in new ways or giving them advice and training on new product developments. In 2022, Interact launched a wealth of new product features, including support for digital signage, and our customer success managers needed to be able to explain the feature to existing customers.
How did our own CSMs learn about the new tool? Through meetings, videos, and training sessions, but mainly through the intranet. As a SaaS company whose customers use intranets over a period of many years, our personnel use our own intranet to learn everything they can about the product. They then use that knowledge to add value for our customers.
If you have long-term customers and a Customer Success team who work with them regularly, your intranet may also help your CSMs to keep their product knowledge current.
20. Using an intranet for statutory and workplace compliance
Every organization has policies and trainings in place for the sake of efficiency, culture, and ethics (e.g., Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training) or as part a statutory responsibility (e.g., in regulated industries such as healthcare or finance).
Ensuring workplace compliance with these policies can be critical then, and an intranet can support it.
To take the example of a company offering marketing consultancy services. Given that many if not all staff may be dealing with data pertaining to individuals (through names, job roles, and email addresses), the company will likely want all employees to read and acknowledge resources and training around GDPR. The same could be said of US healthcare organizations and employees to whom HIPAA training applies.
This can be easily accomplished via the intranet.
Information about data protection procedures can be added or embedded on an intranet page and then notifications sent to staff via email or other communications channels.
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When the recipient accepts the notification and visits the site, a “Mandatory Read” tool can require the audience to click and acknowledge they have read and understand the content. Reminders can be automated for outstanding completions, which makes keeping a compliance audit trail far easier to accomplish.
21. Reduce 175 employee apps to just one
Whether working in a hospital or on Wall Street, staff regularly need access to a range of software tools.
Depending on the role, a worker’s day might require apps for claiming expenses, booking vacations, or submitting IT requests.
How large is this software ecosystem? Okta reports that enterprises with over 2,000 employees use an average of 175 software apps, and even smaller companies use an average of 73.
For staff to work productively, they need to be able to navigate to the most common and useful apps with ease. A fragmented system without a one-stop shop or “front door” can result in individuals operating scores of systems and growing frustrated.
The intranet is not only the place to house these apps (and have universal access through single sign-on), but it is also a repository for all the information users need to successfully use the tools as well.
Through added FAQs and explainers discoverable via the enterprise search tool, staff can find all the relevant information for themselves, thereby easing the burden on HR or IT.
22. Help everyone learn and develop with quizzes
Learning and development is an important factor in employee engagement and satisfaction. But procuring and integrating a specialist L&D platform can be expensive and time-consuming.
A comprehensive L&D platform will also have exceptional learning options but could be overly complex if your organization only has simple testing and learning needs.
An advantage of an intranet in this scenario is that you can easily test product or training knowledge and ensure that everyone is staying up to date with recent developments.
Combined with a Mandatory Read feature, quizzes can be a powerful way to ensure everyone who needs to continue learning about a particular subject does.
The workflow is simple; create a content page for your company’s latest product or service, issue notifications via email, Teams/Slack, or mobile, ask employees to confirm they have read the material through Mandatory Read, and test then on their newly gained knowledge.
23. An out-of-the-box intranet fights false economies
If the economics of 2023 do turn out to be as bad as predictions suggest, some organizations may hear arguments from financial decision-makers that tools such as SharePoint will suffice because they are “free”.
For those who regularly do use SharePoint, however, it can be a frustrating experience that results in delays, lack of resources, and intranet usage declining.
In our experience, the single biggest factor that sends companies to out-of-the-box intranets (which unlike SharePoint don’t require extensive, IT-intensive custom builds) is the failure of a SharePoint intranet project.
For more information on why SharePoint often doesn’t deliver for communicators, please check our related guide: Interact vs SharePoint and Viva.
If the conversation in your company turns to using “free” systems, it may be helpful to outline why an out-of-the-box intranet can deliver mission-critical benefits faster and more effectively than rebuilding on archaic foundations.
Are you interested in exploring the benefits of an intranet?
From the obvious benefits to the less well-known ones, a new intranet can enable greater collaboration and communication for your whole organization.
If you’d like to know more about how leading companies, including Levi’s, Domino’s, and Sony Playstation, use an intranet to connect their enterprises, get in touch with us today.