Exploring Intranet Use Cases and Their Impacts on Engagement

The Evolution of the Corporate Intranet to Enterprise Social Collaboration

James Davidson

Evolution of the Corporate Intranet ImageAs the shift in media continues to move at an incredible pace we are beginning to see it reach out and touch more and more aspects of our lives, it notably affects the way we socialize, but most recently we have seen it transform the way that businesses communicate and collaborate internally especially within their intranets. Typical intranets tend to become deserted desert islands with content overload, little staff use, and a lack of modern features. Slowly unused intranets used for housing documents have to evolve into systems that more closely resemble internal communities where employees can share and find information; collaborate across global teams on critical projects, and where the community removes bottlenecks in the hunt for help or direction by offering solutions in real-time.

We’ve seen an increase in companies looking to update or completely replace their aging and ineffective intranet environments, rebuilding them to include modern-day interactive use cases and search functions all in the hopes of increasing productivity, decreasing costs, and creating a more engaged workforce.

One important way of transforming an intranet into a functioning internal community is the inclusion of web 2.0 features and effects that naturally lend themselves to connecting employees, reducing costs, and increasing collaboration. In fact you will find that your younger workforce made up of GenX and GenY prefer to leverage collaborative community-orientated systems over the traditional ones like email and flat intranets that have dominated corporate America for the past 10 years.

There are multiple use cases for creating an internal community intranet including:

  • Corporate Communications: Enabling them from all directions, including (top down) from the executives to employees, (bottom up) employee feedback to executives, and (laterally) among employees.
  • Collaboration: Helping people find the materials they need, and creating a space where they can collaborate anywhere anytime in order to increase innovation and productivity.
  • Sales Enablement: Providing a platform that incorporates training, real-time information, sales materials, and help from experts to shorten sales cycles and improve win rates.
  • Digitize Processes: Recognize cost and time savings by moving various processes to self-serve models in the intranet.

Each one of these use cases is achieved with the addition of a different combination of modern web 2.0 features.  For example develop sales and collaboration use cases by combining a typical intranet feature such as file archiving with interactive web 2.0 features such as tagging, bookmarks, liking, search, or featured content, all of which allows content to be findable and shareable in a manner that best suits the user.  Consider the sales benefits of deploying these features: Easily accessible information leads to decreased lost sales opportunities, increased productivity, shorter sales cycles, and increased revenue. The cost savings alone make for a strong case. According to the IDC, companies waste on average $11,000/rep/year because of activities such as searching for information, if you have just 50 sales reps that’s a loss of $550,000/year, with 100 sales reps that’s over $1M. Check out how real companies have realized the benefits of advanced community intranets, the two case studies below are examples we often share with our clients to demonstrate the power of a well-built and activated internal community or intranet.

General Electric

GE, in its infinite wisdom was way ahead of the world in regards to utilizing internal community for business benefit.  They’ve been building and improving their own internal community called “Support Central” for more than 20 years.  They set out to increase collaboration, increase corporate transparency, digitize processes, and of course decrease costs.  What resulted was an internal community so robust that GE executives trust that is saves them millions of dollars a year in costs and no longer requires ROI justification to management for maintaining and expanding the platform.


  • 400,000 Global users in 6,000+ Locations
  • 25 Million web hits/ day (Greater than employee usage of Google and Yahoo combined)
  • 50,000 User groups
  • 100,000 Experts available to answer questions
  • Thousands of business processes digitized
  • Up-Time of 99.9%
  • Millions of dollars a year in cost savings (Enough that GE does not require ROI justification)
Alcatel Lucent

Alcatel Lucent decided to build a community that would give their employees a single tool that they could leverage for internal and external collaboration from any location at any time.  They also strived to reduce the duplication of efforts for R&D as well as create a more relevant employee directory. They launched their internal community on Jive social business software and created an engaged and useful internal community for their employees.


  • Improved Subject matter expert location
  • 50% Reduction in time spent in email.
  • Answers to critical questions in less than 30 minutes from hours.
  • 31,000+ users / 5,300 Active users/week
  • 692,000 page views/month
  • 70% Internal vs. 30% external access
  • Reduction of duplicate effort
  • Regional Sales sharing customer approaches
  • Improved Morale

Investing in collaborative technology that improves communication, sales, knowledge management, employee onboarding/retention and streamlines processes across your organization has a real ROI and create a competitive advantage that cannot be ignored.

James Davidson, blog contributor

James Davidson is a Principal Consultant at 7Summits. He helps clients articulate their art-of-the-possible vision and shape their roadmaps, unlocking opportunities to integrate audiences to drive the greatest business value. James brings more than 15 years of experience in management consulting, global community and Salesforce delivery execution.

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