The deconstruction of the intranet

Deconstructed-PuzzleJust after publishing my last post, I found three interesting things that increase my belief that we are currently “deconstructing” the intranet and making it into something different.

1. No more Internal Comms department.

A Dutch bank and insurance company reported they have done away with their Internal Communications department. The rise of enterprise social networks (two-way communication – I wrote about this earlier) as well as the large number of customer-facing employees in webcare and other business processes had made them decide that communications is no longer a role for one department but for all the company.
English version of article.

Why is this important? Because it is often Internal Comms that has been the department that has introduced intranets to their employees as a communication tool for all the company. They have made sure intranets looked good, that people got training and that the corporate news got the best real estate on the homepage.  🙂

Most of them have realized that the intranet is no longer only a communication tool, but a tool to do your work. In that respect, it may be time to hand over the ownership of the intranet to a different part of the organization, and the digital workplace team may be the best candidate. They can take care of a proper technical installation, governance, training, app selection and development, usability etc. (which, incidentally, apart from the technical installation, are all things I really like to do :-))

If Internal Comms is no longer the owner of the intranet/digital workplace, it means that we can finally use that prime real estate for the most important work stuff, regardless of what that is. Perhaps we can also be less fanatic about design and branding, 🙂 and focus on usability.
But of course this is just one company. I have no idea if (m)any others will follow suit.

2. More talk about an app-store on your intranet.

I came across an article about Neil Morgan’s work for an intranet app store at Richemont. And that was done in 2012!

3. More proof that the app intranet exists! 

And then I found another intranet teaser video featuring a Windows 8 tile view with apps! This is the screenshot. (Please click to enlarge)

Screenshot of the desktop
A screenshot from 19s into the video shows the desktop, with various apps. Source:

Once again, all kind of tools are displayed on the desktop and several elements from the intranet are there (news (in the centre – prime real estate!),  time and weather, an HR app). But there appears to be no integrated website called “intranet”.

[Update October 17th, 2014: Unfortunately, the video was suddenly made private, so I removed the embedded link. I am glad I made that screenshot! ]

This feeds my theory that the “intranet” will be replaced by the individual building blocks of the intranet-as-we-have-come-to-know-it + other tools. I will call it the “deconstructed intranet” 🙂
This term has already been used earlier in a blog by Russell Pearson. I am not sure if he meant exactly the same thing though.

Is this the same as a Digital Workplace? I do not think so – this may be part of a Digital Workplace or a stage towards a Digital Workplace, but I think the Digital Workplace has more to it than just a set of tools.

Have you seen other examples of “deconstructed intranets”? I am ever so curious how this will develop!

Image courtesy of ponsulak at


4 thoughts on “The deconstruction of the intranet

  1. SamMarshall October 23, 2014 / 11:03 am

    Hi Ellen
    more thoughts about Apps on your intranet from me (back in 2011)

    ESPN have had an app-like section on their intranet for many years, as have others, but they’re really just a modernised way of presenting links to expense systems. I think examples like Liverpool University’s PC finder are much more compelling (announced in – but you know that 😉

    • Ellen van Aken October 23, 2014 / 9:31 pm

      Hi Sam,
      Thank you for sharing that post, you were very much ahead! It has taken a long time for this thought to be turned into something tangible, and then only on a very limited scale.
      I think apps will often be glorified links, especially in the early days. Lots of people wil want to piggy-back on a successful concept. Look at the SharePoint “apps”; they used to be called Lists and Libraries and that is still what most of them are. Only the name has changed.
      But I really loved the PC finder and I think the concept has big potential for large offices with flexdesks.
      In any case, there are plenty of things happening right now!

  2. Samuel Driessen December 11, 2014 / 4:40 pm

    Just commented on your first post and will leave one hear as well. I didn’t mention we’ve designed and developed these kind of intranets as well. I can show you examples when we meet (at the IntraNetwerk for instance).

    • Ellen van Aken December 14, 2014 / 11:36 am

      That would be great, Samuel! Thanks for the offer!

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