Executives are killing the intranet

The average intranet is pathetic; it suffers from poor technology, awful, out-dated content, poor engagement, a terrible search engine, non-existent content governance, and a pathetic user experience that looks like a web brochure from the 1990s, or a screen full of boxes likely designed by a cold war engineer at gunpoint in some Eastern communist basement.

Who is to blame? Your executive suite.

The primary reason behind the lack of progress with the standard intranet since the Great Recession of 2008-09, is the severe lack of funding for the intranet. This is not the case in all organizations, only most organizations. Far too many grey hair executives in their 60s and 70s have no respect for the intranet, nor any interest in funding it beyond the absolute bare minimum.

The buck stops in the c-suite. Too many executives still view the intranet as a cost center, not a place to help employees and enhance the business. The intranet is dying from lack of executive support.

The most important ingredient for any intranet governance model is the executive champion.

Ask yourself:

  • How many of you have intranets with technology that is 6, 8 or 10 years old?
  • When was your last redesign – 4, 5, 6 or more years ago?
  • Are executives using the intranet? Are they active on social collaboration tools?
  • Is your intranet search working well?

If you answered no to one or more of the above questions, your executives are killing your intranet with lack of funding by way of lack of governance. Without their involvement, your intranet governance is dead on the vine. Ask yourself: would these same executives allow your external website to degenerate to the same state? Absolutely not. So why does the public deserve better than employees?

intranet governance


Intranet governance is mission-critical to your intranet; in fact, there is no more important component or intranet ingredient. And the most important ingredient for any intranet governance model is the executive champion(s). Without a solid and engaged executive champion — either the CEO or one of the c-suite level executives that report to him or her — your intranet will be, for all intents and purposes, dead (or dying) before it can realize any true value. And we are talking about a caring, and engaged executive; not one who sits back and only pays attention when there’s a problem — an executive who really cares about employees, who wants to invest in their well-being, and one who truly understands that the intranet is an investment in the future, not a cost centre.

One company has an intranet built on a technology platform that is 8 years-old, and no longer supported by the vendor. Certain components of the intranet crash the entire intranet. It has no dedicated IT person or resource, only a second-tier support desk located in a remote island nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s been crashing for more than a year; and they’ve had to spend many tens-of-thousands of dollars to back-up and clone the intranet because the next crash might be permanent. We’re in the middle of attempting a business case to help ‘sell’ the need and secure a few hundred-thousand dollars to upgrade the technology, and redesign an intranet that looks like the aforementioned communist bootstrap project. This is a company with more than 50,000 employees, and approaching $10 billion in revenue. No, this is not a joke. It’s a real client.

What’s the chief difference between a failing intranet, and a great intranet? Executives. Engaged, active executive champions who understand that the intranet is an investment in employees, in the business, and the future of the organization. The intranet is not a cost center, and it needs proper governance (digital workplace governance).

Not all are this daft, just most. Now it’s your job to help them see the light…

Many world-class intranets and digital workplaces, including those from Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, and others, with detailed case studies are presenting at this year’s Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum conference in Atlanta (May 9-100). Early-bird registration is only $890 for the full conference.

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2 thoughts on “Executives are killing the intranet”

  1. I find too many executives always say things like “if it isn’t broken, then do nothing”. It’s an old idea that doesn’t work well. You should always aim to improve what you have, that’s how you win!

    1. It’s the same old refrain, and I heard it at a client last week. And yet, often the intranet is broken. Though it may not look like it at first glance to an executive, to the average employee it’s worst than broken… it’s wildly outdated, with content that is often wrong… which can actively damage a business. So now it’s not just broken, it’s actively killing business.

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