Intranet vs. EXP – what’s the difference? It’s a valid question when assessing the crowded market of technologies that claim to improve your employee experience, bolster your culture, and enhance productivity. However, the answer is a lot more straightforward than you may think. Allow us to explain.

Imagine walking into a building that houses rows upon rows of books, thoughtfully categorized to help you access reams of knowledge. You can dive deep into research, discover new ideas, browse a repository of enriching information. This is, of course, a library.

Then you stumble into a building that is buzzing with activity—it’s not just a collection of books; it’s a vibrant hub of community life, boasting a wealth of services for its members. Need career help? Sign up for a free resume writing course. Looking for childcare options? There’s a daycare center right around the corner. And if you’re craving some social interaction, there’s always a calendar packed with events and gatherings. What kind of place offers all that? Also a library. While one might be better utilized to deliver great experiences, they share the same DNA.

A great Employee Experience Platform (EXP) is like that bustling civic hub that provides not just critical information, but also serves as an enriching communal experience. Meanwhile, traditional intranets might look more like that first library: reliable, functional, but a bit… old-fashioned. You can find the material you need but it’s a solitary experience.

Modern intranets however, are like the library that serves as a vibrant community epicenter, just like an EXP. In other words, a modern intranet isn’t different from an EXP… a modern intranet is an EXP. 

Intranet vs. EXP: How the digital experience fuels a thriving community

Increasingly, the employee experience (EX) takes place in the digital world. Employees at companies that offer a leading EX are more inclined to surpass work expectations, having a 40 percent higher level of discretionary effort, according to McKinsey research. This requires an EX model that embraces flexibility and responsiveness, anchored in promoting deeper levels of connection.

Many organizations are still struggling to connect disparate systems and foster collaboration among geographically dispersed teams. Only two in 10 employees feel connected to their organization’s culture, according to Gallup, and exclusively remote workers’ connection to the mission or purpose of their organization is at an all-time low.

Enter the modern intranet: the all-encompassing platform designed to streamline communication, consolidate resources, and customize experiences for every employee. With a modern intranet, organizations can participate in a cooperative ecosystem and embark on a collaborative journey with their workforce, crafting bespoke, genuine, and inspiring experiences that fortify individual, team, and organizational efficacy.

Modern intranet software must serve as the connective tissue that ties various systems together in a single interface. It transcends the traditional boundaries of the traditional workspace, providing a centralized hub for employees to access information, collaborate on projects, and engage with company objectives.

Modern intranet: consolidate, customize, and connect it all

A modern intranet solution consolidates digital resources and communication channels into a centralized ecosystem. This not only streamlines workflows but also ensures that employees have access to the tools they need to thrive in their roles. That’s more important than ever as employees struggle to manage all of the tools they need to get through their day. 47% of digital workers struggle to find information or data needed to effectively perform their jobs, according to Gartner, with 40% of digital workers using more than 11 applications to do their job, and 5% of workers using 26 or more.

Although an intranet may not encompass every application, it serves as a gateway to the most critical parts of the employee experience. By seamlessly integrating workflows, breaking down information barriers, and offering employees swift, unified access to vital information, it is an indispensable solution for connecting the workplace.

Where the modern intranet truly shines is in its ability to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration. It offers a centralized, highly-customizable place to provide resources, exchange ideas, and foster community-building interactions.

What features make a modern intranet an EXP?

EXPs are designed to focus specifically on enhancing the overall experience of employees within an organization. They often integrate various tools, applications, and resources to streamline processes, foster collaboration, and improve employee well-being. A good EXP will offer personalization and employee-centric features to create a workplace environment that is cohesive, transparent, and participatory.

A modern intranet should do all that and more. When choosing an intranet, look for solutions that offer features that prove it can truly serve as the heart of your organization, including:

Powerful customization and personalization options

While a traditional intranet typically offers a standardized interface and content structure,  modern intranets, like those built with Interact, prioritize personalization and user experience, tailoring content and features to individual employee preferences and roles. They may use algorithms or machine learning to recommend relevant resources, learning materials, or collaboration opportunities based on employee behavior and interests.

Personalization is an increasingly important aspect of employee experience.

Interact’s AI-driven recommendation engine helps identify new content that employees should know about, ensuring that crucial updates are never overlooked. By incorporating real-time communication channels that alert employees to changes and updates—which employees can customize based on their needs and preferences—intranets enable organizations to thread communication throughout the employee journey, enhancing engagement and alignment at every touchpoint.

Intuitive design and dynamic content management

A human-centered intranet design goes a long way toward boosting digital productivity, organizing content effectively without overwhelming users. Grouping content in menus or prioritizing popular pages simplifies navigation, while using visual elements like clickable images makes for better understanding and access. Intuitive design also saves time by eliminating the need for IT to build features like online forms, which non-technical users should be able to make easily with a great EXP.

Flexible capabilities for accessing information

Prioritize solutions that offer powerful enterprise search capabilities. This ensures employees have access to relevant content, eliminating time and frustration spent digging for information. Look for platforms that provide a federated search experience across both intranet content and linked cloud storage systems.

A screenshot of a modern intranet that optimizes technology using powerful search to improve productivity
Powerful search is an essential consideration in the intranet vs. EXP debate.

Additionally, an EXP should offer ease of access through features like single sign-on (SSO). This functionality simplifies user authentication processes, improving the overall digital experience for employees. Taking accessibility several steps further is also crucial to ensuring everyone can get the information they need, how and where they need it. When building an Interact intranet, a built-in inclusive language editor automatically flags potentially non-inclusive language as you type and suggests appropriate alternatives.

Seamless third-party integrations

A snapshot of some of the apps Interact integrates with.
A snapshot of some of the apps Interact integrates with.

EXPs should offer integrations with all the third-party tools and applications that employees use daily is key, including project management software, HR systems, communication tools, learning management systems, and more. Centralizing these tools into a unified platform instantly elevates the employee experience.

For example, Interact offers integration with various business platforms, including Slack, Zendesk, ServiceNow, Salesforce, Workday, SAP Concur, Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and Dropbox. Offering a consolidated home for all of these helps to streamline workflows and processes, minimizing confusion and bottlenecks.

Final thoughts on the intranet vs. EXP argument

Almost 70% of workers don’t feel as engaged as they should be and aren’t feeling a meaningful connection to their job, according to Gartner. In the ever-evolving landscape of employee experience, executives must recognize the importance of prioritizing the employee experience. As organizations strive to create an environment that fosters productivity, engagement, and alignment, the importance of choosing the right intranet platform cannot be overstated. As McKinsey aptly notes, treating EX with the same level of scientific rigor and tailored approach as CX is essential for driving organizational success.

So, it isn’t really a case of intranet vs. EXP at all; a modern intranet is the key to unlocking a superior employee experience, serving as a nexus for streamlined communication and collaboration. By leveraging its native features, robust knowledge management capabilities, and seamless integration with third-party software, it enhances workflow efficiency and fosters a more cohesive and engaging work environment.

For employees, the traditional intranet is akin to browsing the library stacks, while the modern intranet is more like attending a lively book club discussion that brings together everyone in the community. It’s about facilitating dialogue, increasing collective understanding, and creating a sense of belonging and purpose. Organizations that embrace modern intranet software solutions will cultivate a cohesive culture of highly-engaged employees, ultimately propelling their people and business towards greater success and fulfillment.

Main image by user18526052 on Freepik.