During a recent panel discussion about the future of the Intranet I was asked, is the newsfeed the next evolution of the Intranet? Getting all of my relevant information in one personalized stream is a huge productivity gain; however, the newsfeed will never be the next evolution of the corporate Intranet because organizations have already outgrown the concept. Today enterprise buyers and users are requesting the next generation of the personal newsfeed. Furthermore, all research, as well as customer surveys, already point towards another evolution being just ahead. But let’s look at the different generations of the newsfeed as it unfolded from our research:
The Newsfeed is Dead – Providing Value for a Tiny Part of Your Organization
The newsfeed used to be a push & consume mechanism, with multiple distributors. As a user you usually subscribed to multiple feeds to get all the information you wanted. The disadvantage was that it was neither intelligent nor interactive, and you still had to collaborate via different channels (e.g., email, Intranet). In some situations a newsfeed-based communication still makes sense; but in an Intranet context, collaboration, connections, and engagement are key.
2nd Generation: The Activity Stream – Providing Value for Knowledge Workers
Nowadays the newsfeed has turned into an activity stream. Within an activity stream you get more information types from systems, users, and corporate communications. As a user you are able to collaborate, comment, share, tag, etc. and the underlying technology will learn from all of your activity (e.g., expertise, gamification). This turns the activity stream into a more engaging and tailored experience within a corporate Intranet. A lot of organizations have made or are making the activity stream the center of their Intranet experience. However, users don’t like the separation between collaboration and transactions. While collaboration has become easier, transactions – like accessing paystubs, changing personal data, submitting leave requests, and approving workflows – are still very cumbersome.
3rd Generation: The Productivity Stream – Providing Tailored Value for Anyone
Early adopters have picked up on the idea of a productivity stream. In addition to collaborative elements, it includes personal transactions like approvals, tasks, and messages. The productivity stream leverages many different signals from systems (e.g., paystub in SAP, list in SharePoint), mobile device capabilities (e.g., GPS for clock-in/clock-out), and intelligence (e.g., pre-brief with mashup of information before customer meeting). The productivity stream is mobile-first since you want all your employees to benefit from the potential productivity gains, no matter if they work in an office, on an oil rig, in a truck, or in a store. The productivity stream becomes your personal assistant throughout the day; however, it is still some sort of newsfeed. (Check out this video to see what I mean.)
4th Generation: Personal Agents & Notifications – Pure Interactivity Across Any Device
Research reveals that the future is not a stream or a feed anymore; personal agents will notify us wherever we are. We will see notifications and call-to-actions on our watches, mirrors, store displays, etc. The corporate Intranet will not be a place anymore, it will be your personal productivity sphere and will leverage all of the electrical devices around you. For a grace transitional period we will most likely see some kind of a historical feed of all our activities because we are so used to the feed concept.
For us at Sitrion, the productivity stream is the focus of our activities and we are researching personal agent notifications. The productivity stream is definitely the next evolution of the corporate Intranet because you can reach and engage almost every employee via their mobile device of choice. Our customers love the idea, for example, of each employee accessing his or her paystub on their private phone alongside other important information vs. waiting in long queues to get access to a kiosk to access their paystub. This is a small step in the grand vision of the productivity stream, but it’s a perfect example of another productivity benefit we can all relate to.
Do you think the newsfeed is dead? Ping me with your thoughts.