The changing role of an intranet manager

In times gone by (and by that I mean 5-10 years ago), the intranet manager was a highly specialised IT role – responsible for maintaining the technical solution, visual design, site navigation and all site content. From information architecture, the publishing model, and permissions, to being responsible for server infrastructure across dev, UAT and production, usually with a moderate to advanced knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  

Enter cloud hosted intranets… 

With the rise in SaaS-based intranets increasing, the role of the intranet manager has evolved into the most important connector between HR, IT, Marketing, and Comms. Because of this, a number of new trends have emerged, for example:  

We’re seeing intranet managers emerge in new parts of an organisation – for example, in project management teams or as a dedicated role in internal communications.  

The role has evolved from being predominantly IT to more of a cross-disciplinary trusted advisor – performing a role more in-line with consultancy, advocacy and product ownership. Intranet managers are now less reliant on technical or coding skill and more on product knowledge and industry or trends awareness.  

Intranet managers are playing an increasing role in strategic planning than ever before – not to under-estimate game changers such as Digital Transformation, Employee Experience, Business Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence.  

There’s confusion around the value of a dedicated intranet manager in the ‘new world’ – with the technology management responsibilities handed to cloud providers, communications teams are more and more responsible for the intranet content, and design teams responsible for the look and feel… an Intranet Manager could start feeling a little lost……never fear!

So where do intranet managers fit today?

There’s still a compelling reason for organisations – particularly large enterprise businesses – to invest in evolving the role of their intranet manager. A few reasons for why include: 

  • The evolution of an intranet is never ‘done’ – your intranet will forever be evolving, especially now that most are moving to cloud hosted, often ever-green solutions. 

  • Chair the intranet governance committee – be across or coordinate activities across the intranet governance committee, a cross-functional group across HR, IT, Marketing, Legal, Operations, and Leadership, to review how internal communications are meeting objectives.  

  • Monitor analytics and support content lifecycle – intranets fail when they become content dumping grounds. Using a combination or reporting and automation to understand what content is thriving, what needs to be removed, and what is in demand but does not exist. Additionally, use these analytics to make recommendations to your organisation around improving the employee experience by tweaking your intranet to meet the change needs and expectations of your people.  Better yet, position yourself as an employee experience advocate and your role may very well become irreplaceable. 

  • Train and coach content creators and site administrators – managing an intranet takes a village, meaning that intranet administrators need to work with comms teams and contributors across the organisation and oversee what gets authored to ensure their content is up to date and that they are aligned with the overall intranet strategy.  

  • Champion the intranet cause and keep it focused – as the intranet manager, you are the intranet’s primary ambassador and will continuously focus the organisation on the intranet’s purpose: to connect and align the business!  

  • Stay on top of the latest enhancements to your solution – Microsoft 365 has a roadmap of features that is available publicly that you need to stay across. This means that they can advise and consult on solutions when the business asks. 

What does the future hold?

For many companies the intranet is often the digital front door for their employees, playing a crucial role in the entire employee lifecycle. In some ways, you can think of your intranet manager as concierge or gatekeeper and an important person to have ‘on side’.  An intranet manager is often an advisor, a teacher, and demonstrator of the ‘art pf the possible’. Organisations are reliant on their intranet managers to know all of the possibilities using modern intranets – including automation and AI. This can be an overwhelming expectation when we consider that Microsoft 365 now has over 30 applications.   

Organisations will always need a way to communicate to staff en-mass. They will continue to need a place to publish and manage corporate information (policies, forms etc). With the introduction of Microsoft Teams, and the tight integration across collaboration tools, the role of an intranet can begin to look shaky. I think there will always be a need for a corporate communications space – it will continue to evolve to be more personalised and focused on the users, but the need will not go away. I see huge opportunity for a savvy intranet manager to involve themselves in things like intranet mobile applications, connecting the intranet with other digital workspace tools (like Yammer and Teams) and most importantly in setting up, and implementing good governance across the digital workspace.  

Last but not least, there is also benefit for intranet managers (and organisations more broadly) to forge strategic partnerships with external third parties – such as an IT Consultancy. Because of the fast-changing nature of technology, leveraging the hive-mind of a dedicated consultancy can be an invaluable way to gain insights, stay ahead of the curve and plan future iterations of your digital employee experience.   

Want to learn more? 

If you’d like to know more about intranets and digital employee experience, get in touch with us today.  

About the author

Rachel Harnott

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