Has Microsoft Teams killed off the intranet?

04-06-2020 With the huge adoption of Microsoft Teams these past months many are wondering whether the intranet still has a part to play in the modern digital workplace. The answer is yes, but we need to be aware of how our intranet can co-exist with the other platforms in Office 365 like Microsoft Teams and Yammer. In this blog post we take a closer look at the part the intranet has to play now and how it can work together with the other platforms.

The role of the intranet in the modern workplace

The intranet is the answer to several needs in businesses today. Depending on the organizational strategy, where the business is on its digital transformation journey and what the main challenges in the organization are – like a recent merger or organizational change.

Intranets normally answer one or more of the following needs:

  • Top down communication
  • Collaborative productivity
  • Efficient search
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Branding awareness
  • Compliance
  • Corporate culture
  • Social glue

However, Microsoft Teams and Yammer also supports some of these needs, so we must decide what purposes the different platforms should be used for. Microsoft Teams for instance doesn’t allow us to change its look and feel. So if you have a strong need of branding the intranet is a good place to meet this demand instead. The search engine in Yammer still needs some key features so if efficient search is important to you than the most important content should be on the intranet. Here you get a far better chance of customizing the search engine to match your needs. There are many more examples but the trend we see with our customers is that the intranet has gone from being all-encompassing when it comes to collaboration, communication, knowledge sharing, compliance and social glue, to being a more focused platform for communication, branding, compliance and information.

This division of functions is a good suggestion for how the intranet, Yammer and Teams fit into the modern workplace:

This doesn’t equate an easier job for the intranet manager, quite the opposite. Now Teams and Yammer has to be considered on equal footing with the intranet when it comes to channel strategy and communication and content plans.

Where are your users

In the modern workplace where Teams and Outlook are installed as applications on your users’ devices these are natural starting applications for the users since they contain their personal communication. If Yammer has been adopted by your organization this is also a place the users will automatically gravitate towards to stay up to date. This means that the intranet, for many users, is third in line, meaning important messages doesn’t get out to all when we place them as news or campaigns on the intranet. This puts pressure on the intranet owners to think in multiple channels.
One example to illustrate this is crisis communication about the handling of the Corona crisis. The intranet is still where policies and guidelines are and on the front page is where you’ll typically find news and a campaign link to the employee guidelines.

However, the intranet is not where users discuss or question the guidelines. They do so on Yammer where those in charge of crisis management can openly communicate to everyone in the organization and where discussion can flow freely. If this results in amendments to the guidelines, these will of course be updated on the intranet.

In a crisis situation everyone must stay informed and at the right time, so of course middle management is also involved so employees know how to act and what the guidelines are. That makes MS Teams a solid option for communication between middle managers and their employees so they can make sure that everyone is up to date when guidelines change.

In this manner all three applications are used as channels that, with the right sender, ensures that the right information gets to the right recipients. This doesn’t happen naturally, so it must be managed and coordinated by those responsible for Communication.

Achieve synergy between platforms

If we want to target our communication, provide information and ensure a strong foundation for collaboration we need an overview of how users use the different applications in the modern workplace. Maybe you have usage statistics or other data to help you understand the usage and adoption among users. With this knowledge we can plan how to make the best use of the platforms.

Teams and Yammer on the intranet
We’ve experienced several organizations where Teams or Yammer are available in an organization but without a high adoption rate. The intranet however has been well-established as a daily platform for users. The obvious step here is to use the intranet to help users get to Teams and/or Yammer. An easy way to do this is to show Teams or Yammer feeds on the intranet and thus make them aware that there is activity on these channels that could be relevant to users.

The intranet in Teams
We’ve also seen scenarios at the other end of the spectrum where users primarily use MS Teams and intranet usage is dwindling. In this case we want to make the intranet easily accessible to users. If our intranet is based on Modern SharePoint we can add the intranet as an app directly in Teams so users can access it on the same level as their activities, chat or Teams list in Microsoft Teams.

Has Microsoft Teams killed off the intranet?

So the answer to the question “has Teams killed off the intranet” is no. The intranet still has an important part to play in organizations today but we must have the intranet and the other applications in the modern workplace co-exist. We need to think in new streams and channels of communication and ensure that information from the intranet is available to users where they are.