GoDaddy Intranet The Planet home 2017

Great Intranets: Cisco, GoDaddy, Merck, PNM Resources

Great intranets come in many forms, and often look and feel different from one to another. There are, however, some common threads that link some of the great intranets: executive sponsorship, secure governance (and ownership), and great content, supported by solid content management.

A look at some of the great intranets on display at the 2017 Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum conference reveals some common themes about the importance of governance, executive sponsorship, content, and a simple approach to user experience design.


GoDaddy is a multinationalInternet domain registrar and web hosting company – the biggest Internet Service Provider on the planet with more than 6000 employees. The Planet is the intranet and digital workplace home for all employees.

“We call our intranet The Planet for a reason…because it is our headquarters,” says Kim Clark, Director of Internal Communications for GoDaddy. “The Planet gives equal visibility across regions, teams, cultures and is the home base from where we can connect, have access to the company strategy, values, recognition, and news.”

GoDaddy Intranet The Planet home 2017
GoDaddy Intranet, The Planet, home page, Oct. 2017

“It’s democratic in that folks can start their own groups, build their brand across the company by commenting on company blogs,” adds Clark. “The Planet is a reflection, a reinforcement and co-creator of GoDaddy’s global culture.”


Cisco is one of the biggest technology companies on Earth, and with 100,000 employees, it provides the backbone and infrastructure that makes the Internet run.

The Cisco digital workplace and intranet now has more than 120 mobile apps that employees use in conjunction with the intranet, including a new digital assistant that aims to make life a little easier for all employees. The Cisco assistant is essential a composite application that allows the employee user to assemble their own page, with the type of content and apps, in the place and position of their choosing.

“The Cisco Assistant is a portal where users can select from a pool of cards to personalize their experience,” says Mike Mitchell, Senior Director, Employee Digital Services, Cisco. “There is also a search capability that goes against multiple internal repositories. It is a responsive web environment that works on mobile and desktop.”

cisco digital assistant intranet 2018

Cisco assistant has been pilot tested with 700 people and is now moving to the next phase after positive employee feedback. The technology behind it is an open source toolkit (Google Polymer, Liquid from Shopify) from a company called Adenin.


Merck is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies with 70,000 employees, 45,000 of which are knowledge workers that regularly use the intranet with millions of pages and documents. In such a large, global enterprise, finding content, the right content to complete a task, can be akin to finding a needle in a hay field. As such, a great enterprise search engine is truly an invaluable tool, and the glue that helps bind the digital workplace.

In 2010, finding the right content was often more challenging than finding that needle. In fact, the search engine at the time would trigger 20-30 negative comments and complaints per day. Ouch.

So Merck decided to establish an enterprise search team and a plan to improve the search engine and the search results.

“We looked carefully at how to make search resonate… and work better for people,” says Dan Shapiro, Enterprise Search Manager at Merck, part of a team with 2 FTEs, 5 PTEs on a development team, and a support team of 5 or 6 PTEs.

Intranet search features at Merck
Intranet search features at Merck

“We’ve done a lot of things to make the system intelligent; it’s now more of an Intent engine. We are now using a query rules engine with a Google-ish feel, with best bets (hard-coded best results to more than 200 of the top or most frequent search queries.”

Each best bet however is not just a single search result but a coded rule that doesn’t merely produce just a single best bet, but also applies group rules that suppress other results, using regular expressions, etc.

From a few dozen complaints per day, the search engine now only receives one or two negative comments per month, and has boosted employee productivity along the way.


PNM Resources is a medium-size power generation and transmission company in New Mexico and Texas with some 2700 intranet users of their enterprise intranet, iConnect.

With only one part-time manager / editor, the internal communications manager, dedicated to the intranet, the company benefits from a decentralized content model that deploys SharePoint 2013 as a central content management platform. The model and platform are supported by a central, comprehensive enterprise governance model and content management plan, and a decentralized content publishing model with dozens of content writers and publishers.

As part of the redesign and deployment of a new intranet, led by intranet consultants Prescient Digital Media, the pre-program for the launch of the new intranet last year included five months of content training, migration, testing, and tweaking, before the new intranet portal went live to all employees.

A thorough assessment of the old intranet revealed a majority of content that was no longer relevant or suitable for the new intranet. The strategic decision was made to not bulk migrate any content from the old intranet, but rather to train and support content owners to own their own content, and to manually migrate only the most relevant content.

Five months between the beta and full site launch allowed necessary time for training, tweaking and migration, and a launch that was a resounding success with both management and employees.

PNM Resources intranet home oct 2017
PNM Resources intranet home Oct 2017

Additionally, with a lack of staff to create home page news, a program was created to encourage all employees to submit news and stories via a “Submit News” link below the News section on the home page. Not even a full year since launch and 15-20 news stories are submitted by employees every week, news stories that can also garner several dozen user comments, and high employee engagement.

Learn more about the leading digital workplaces and intranets at Microsoft, Google, Coca-Cola, Liberty Mutual, ConocoPhillips and many others during the next big digital workplace conference

The 2018 Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum conference @ Coca-Cola World Headquarters, May 8-10


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