Categories
AI Future Trends of Extranets Future Trends of Intranets intranet intranet trends Intranets vs. Extranets IoT Tech

AI Powers the Growth of Intranets and Extranets

intranets and extranets

For so long, the company intranet was left unattended and somewhat neglected. Advances in the technology of the internet itself meant it was easier to look for information and resources on the world wide web rather than the company intranet.

But intranet, extranet, and enterprise collaboration tools have been growing in recent years. An industry report pegged the enterprise collaboration market to grow from USD 31.0 billion in 2019 to USD 48.1 billion by 2024. This is a Compound Annual Growth Rate on 9.2% over five years.

Growth factors behind enterprise collaboration tools.

The growth behind enterprise collaboration tools has been driven by the emergence of AI as a driving force for the improved usability of intranets and extranets.

Josh Smith, Product Manager for Google Drive comments on the success the Priority feature in Google Drive, “The intelligence that makes Priority so helpful is actually powered by your own day-to-day actions.�

Cloud services, a key force in growth.

Cloud services have also been a key force behind the emergence of third-party enterprise collaboration intranets such as Microsoft’s SharePoint and Google Drive. One report notes that the global cloud computing market size is expected to grow from USD 272 billion to USD 623 billion in the five-year cycle between 2018 and 2023. This represents a compound annual growth rate of 18%.

Reliance on the cloud has not only made widespread intranet and extranet usage more popular, but it has also removed much of the need for internal IT support in favour of cloud-hosting IT outsourcing services.

The modern intranet.

A refresher for everyone who forgot that intranets exist. The intranet is a closed-off network that is used by private members of a company. Access is restricted to approved members.

The intranet is still a requirement for most large organizations. It is good for housing documents and other company content. The intranet is also great for fostering team purpose and engagement. Its internet-powered architecture is perfect for in-group collaboration. Modern intranets can be used for telephony and message exchange.

But as employees are used to a certain level of usability and intuitiveness with the internet, they expect the same with their intranet. This is where AI is so useful, and has its mark over the future of intranets and extranets.

Future Trends of Intranets

Trends in intranets predict that several new features will take form and prominence over time:

Artificial Intelligence to the fore

AI is already beginning to perform some of the mundane work like auto-filling in of keywords and common questions. The fingerprints of ML are all over intranets in terms of voice recognition and error correction. Jason Mayes, Senior Creative Engineer at Google refers to emerging AI as, “human intelligence exhibited by machines.�

Personalized Experiences Improved

Intranets will also start to make the experience more personalized. The personalize experience will be achieved by investing efforts in learning user preferences.

In practice, the face of the intranet will become more welcoming by calling users by name, and picking up where they left off in tasks. This is the tried and tested domain of AI and ML.

Design Intuition

The holy grail for developers is to improve the user experience. Even with intranets, dwell time is important. Google Drive already uses AI for its smart reply and smart compose functions. These tools make suggestions on the next word a user might need to type.

Systems Integration

Staff members will begin to use intranets as gateways into the organizations they represent. Preferences will be tracked, and increasingly, team members will find preferences from their intranet browsing seeping into other daily applications.

Moves to Become Mobile Friendly

Normally a web offering, intranets will be more mobile friendly as organizations try to enter every waking moment of the lives of users. In the future there may no longer be a clear-cut logging off time as users may need to access the intranet on mobile devices after hours.

AI-Powered Chatbots

Chatbots are already happening and will become more common. Chatbots are intelligent and unflustered personal assistants who will never become annoyed by repeated questions. The chatbots in Microsoft Teams are tireless and eternally helpful.

Advanced Analytics

Usage statistics and analytics are already the currency of the internet. Intranets will leverage off this to learn how to provide better experiences to users.

Developers will take just as much time and effort in studying trends in intranet behavior in order to keep users engaged with the experience.

High-Powered Search Capability

Imagine not having to exit your company intranet to be able to tap into all the knowledge in your organization or even the web at large. Staff productivity will increase by eliminating the trouble of swapping between different programs.

Already, the Explore function in Google Drive makes researching and writing reports much simpler. Using powerful AI, it makes instant suggestions based on the content in the document.

Google Drive recommends helpful supporting material when it detects a user is writing an analysis, summary or proposal.

Social Integration

Intranets will seek to provide a friendly, knowing interface. Social features on intranets will continue to evolve and will not be that distant from a user’s personal life.

This social integration could come in the form of a blending of the user’s private persona and a less traditional, less serious employee profile. This will present employees as more rounded people.

The Modern Extranet

Not to be confused with the intranet, an extranet is a private network which allows partners, vendors, clients, and other stakeholders to gain access to part of an organization.

Extranets can be used in a number of ways as a service extension or value add for clients or stakeholders. Think of all the service websites we use every day for banking, travel, dining, and entertainment.

Future Trends of Extranets

Extranets have traditionally had a slightly different emphasis to intranets. Future trends in this space are:

Security

Security will become of greater importance for extranets. With the rise in remote working, intranets and enterprise collaboration tools will be subject to malicious attacks when employees use public networks and personal devices.

Companies will work ever closer with partners to ensure that access control, authentication, and encryption are taken care of. Google uses powerful AI to scan email attachments for malware. Gmail scans an incredible 300 billion attachments every week. According to the company, this smart AI eradicates 99.9% of malware threats.

There are ever-present security threats which AI is combatting on multiple fronts. Scott Young, CEO of outsourced IT company Penncomp warns of the dangers of security breaches, “Defense in depth is based on the first principle that there is no one, invincible security solution�.

Extranets Will Take Away Jobs

Market realities will force companies to move more operations and functions onto extranets. One way this could happen is to provide real-time services such as pricing or bookings. This is already happening, but will go to an even higher level. Almost every conceivable service that can be performed by a machine over a human will be introduced in the end. Time and money can be saved through extranets, and as AI becomes better at mastering mundane tasks, human jobs will be lost.

The Extranet as A Competitive Tool

The most sophisticated extranets can become invaluable to a company’s product and service offering. Extranets can establish customer loyalty if they continue to be useful and integral to clients. Over time, the best extranets will become rivals and a major part of the competitive landscape as businesses compete.

Conclusion

The much-heralded Internet of Things relies on an interconnectedness of personal and business systems. Intranets, extranets, and business collaboration tools will play their part in this interconnectedness.

AI drives experiences which adapt to the user. Adaptation to users helps them become more productive and gives users time to address other tasks. With AI underpinning more and more everyday office tools such as intranets, it is inevitable that it will become integral and irreplaceable in our lives.

The post AI Powers the Growth of Intranets and Extranets appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories
Connect intranet managing remote teams Remote Teams Tech

7 Tools That Support Remote Team Collaboration and Communication

7 Tools That Support Remote Team Collaboration and Communication

Collaborating with a remote team is challenging, but the right tools and strategies can streamline the communication process.

The two main challenges facing remote teams are major time zone differences and lack of in-person collaboration. Online collaboration is effective, but time zone differences make it hard to connect in real-time.

For instance, when a team member in India needs to connect with a team member in the United States, there’s a time difference of nearly 12 hours (give or take, depending on specific time zones). For these two team members to connect, one will need to get up extra early and the other will need to stay up late.

The other big challenge with large differences in time zones is that productivity will always lag behind by 12 to 24 hours. This lag time makes it difficult to meet strict client deadlines and can put projects behind schedule.

If your organization has a remote team, whether your employees are spread out across the states or the world, the following tools will help you maintain efficient online collaboration and communication to ensure you deliver on time.

1. A company intranet

A company intranet is like a private internet for your entire team that can only be accessed by your team members. It can be implemented locally in the office with your own set of servers and networking equipment, or it can be hosted in the cloud.

With an intranet hosted in the cloud, your team can access it from anywhere and you avoid maintenance and upgrade fees. If your team is 100% remote and you don’t have an office, your intranet will need to be hosted in the cloud.

According to Happeo, cloud collaboration makes remote teams successful through tools like video conferencing applications, intranets, and document repositories. A company intranet can provide easy access to all of a team’s collaboration tools.

Intranet security

The privacy and security of an intranet is unparalleled even by the most highly secured software application you can install on your company website. For instance, installing proprietary collaboration software on a subdomain on your company’s website isn’t as secure as you think. Even when your team members use secure login credentials, your web server could get hacked on the back-end, compromising your sensitive data.

On the other hand, a hosted intranet is separate from your company website. With a reputable service provider, the servers used to host your company intranet are locked down with the tightest security. When you intranet isn’t hosted on your website’s domain name, hackers won’t know where to look for it.

2. A navigable, online self-help portal

An online self-help portal will make your employees self-sufficient and empower your team to find answers on their own. Usually, a self-help portal is hosted on a company intranet.

What information does a self-help portal contain?

A self-help portal can contain an infinite amount of knowledge regarding company policies and procedures, and even links to files. Essentially, any kind of information your employees might need, including answers to questions customers might ask, should be housed in a self-help portal.

Employees can use a self-help portal to immediately look up answers to questions posed by clients, customers, and other team members. This accessibility reduces the amount of time it would take to contact a manager or supervisor to find the answer.

A self-help portal can be created by using FAQ software or by hiring a development company to create a proprietary application just for your team. Either way, it works just like a website with a main menu, links for navigation, and a search function.

The key to using an online self-help portal is to make it user-friendly and continually update and add to the information as processes change and your company evolves.

3. A well-designed training program

Every remote team is supported by a well-designed training program. How you onboard your remote employees matters, and how they’re trained will set the tone for how they’ll perform.

Well-trained team members communicate and collaborate more efficiently than team members who work according to their own standards. It’s important to create a training program that can be implemented consistently by any and all of your trainers.

With remote teams, it’s especially important to train your team over an extended period of time rather than give them a manual to read and call it a day. Training manuals serve a purpose, but they shouldn’t take the place of actual training.

How you train your remote team depends on your industry. For instance, if you’re a marketing firm, your training program should include providing constructive feedback after each client interaction, after work is submitted, and throughout the entire process for at least one full project. This will give your team the feedback they need to align with company standards every step of the way.

4. A unified task management platform

Nothing disrupts remote teams like having tasks managed in multiple applications. This can be a tricky situation to get a grip on because all of your remote employees will probably have preferences for the software they like to use for managing tasks. To maintain good collaboration, you’ll need to require all team members to use the same application.

You might have a task management application that you prefer, but stay open to using other platforms recommended by your team. They might know about a platform that is superior to what you’ve always used.

5. Communications training

Ongoing communications training is one of the best ways to keep a remote team on track and should be an irreplaceable part of your company’s communication strategy. Everyone talks about great communication, but few can demonstrate what that looks like. For instance, communication is more than sharing information with another team member. Communication skills involve knowing how and when to deliver a message along with being able to have a productive dialogue with others, especially when there’s a disagreement.

Traditionally, organizations have sent employees to weekend communications training programs, but today it’s easy to take those same courses online. Find an organization that specializes in teaching communication for team collaboration and start requiring your remote employees to complete the courses of your choice.

6. Top-of-the-line computers

It’s difficult to work in the tech industry on older computers running deprecated browser versions because the machine can’t handle an operating system upgrade. Sure, you can find laptops on eBay for a couple hundred bucks, but you’re not doing your company any favors that way.

If your remote employees depend on current technology to get the job done, buy them the right equipment. You don’t need to spend $5,000 per person on new MacBook Pros, but you do need to consider a person’s work before buying them a machine.

7. World clock applications

The simplicity of a world clock application can’t be underestimated. Your remote team needs to know what time it is around the world where other team members and clients are located. This will help keep them on track to deliver tasks on time. For example, if someone from India sets a deadline for Tuesday, a team member in the U.S. can submit the task on Tuesday and yet it’s already Wednesday in India.

World clocks with a little forethought will help team members across different time zones set and meet deadlines smoothly.

Remote collaboration can be exceptionally efficient

Despite team members living in different parts of the world, remote collaboration can be exceptionally efficient – even more efficient than an in-house team.

The problem in-house teams face most is wasted time. It’s a drag having to get ready for work, commute to the office, and then sit at a desk all day. Remote teams are surprisingly more efficient because the freedom helps team members tailor their work to a schedule that works best for their lifestyle. Without the commute, they have more time and energy to devote to getting the job done.

The post 7 Tools That Support Remote Team Collaboration and Communication appeared first on ReadWrite.