As our world has been forced to transition to digital delivery, organizations have had to push the gas pedal on evolving how experiences are delivered. Whether it’s a customer-facing experience or an internal platform that accommodates an increasingly distributed workforce, organizations are feeling the pressure to transform and ensure they are driving the appropriate engagement to boost business – both from a revenue perspective and an employee perspective.

Sitecore Platinum Solution Partner puts it perfectly: “In a time where the world is becoming more digital by the day, organizations need to continually enhance the experience for their customers, partners, and employees.”

See real examples of customers leveraging the full potential of intranets and portals built on Sitecore technology in our on-demand webinar, "Essentials for Engagement: Customer Portals and Employee Intranets”.

Not only are organizations facing decisions about how to enhance experiences and keep engagement high in a digital world, there is also the need to provide a platform that enables some level of self-service while also delivering personalized information.

Needless to say, these are significant tasks and they require the right strategy and technology in order to achieve them.

So as organizations seek out ways to drive and enhance engagement, the topic of intranets and portals is increasingly top of mind. And while related in the sense that these are both authenticated experiences delivered to an end-user, it’s important to understand the differences, since they have varying use cases.

  • Intranets: A private, secure network that can only be accessed by that company’s employees. Intranets serve as internal portals where employees can self-serve and access resources, collaborate, communicate, and share documents.
  • Portals: An authenticated experience designed as a digital-sharing mechanism and information center between an organization and its customers. Portals may contain account information, support ticket history, payment information, downloadable digital files, and more.

Benefits of intranets and portals

As mentioned above, there are nuances between intranets and portals, but there is significant overlap in the benefits they deliver. The main similarity is the ability to have an authenticated, secure place to self-serve. Beyond that, here are the other benefits these experiences can provide to organizations and end-users.

  • Improve communication: As organizations have seen an increase in inbound customer calls while transitioning employees to remote work, the need for transparent and efficient communication has never been higher. Intranets and portals help improve communication, quickly delivering information directly to employees or customers.
  • Deliver personalized information: Personalized content and information plays a significant role in customer and employee satisfaction. Because intranets and portals are authenticated and require some sort of account or profile to be set up, preferences can be captured and used to inform the delivery of information. Whether it be educational information, product information, or employee onboarding and training, intranets and portals enhance an organization’s ability to deliver a personalized experience, and also improve their personalization over time as user profiles and needs change.
  • Improve engagement: Building off the delivery of personalization, intranets and portals improve engagement because employees and customers are receiving timely, highly relevant information that can drive action or conversion. Whether through an inbox, account alert, or personalized page component, organizations can present high priority or desirable calls-to-action that maximize exposure and can be acted upon quickly.

Building your intranet and portal strategy

To find the right solution for your business, it is important to develop and analyze your intranet and portal strategy to make sure you capture all the necessary requirements for your end-users. Before evaluating any technology solutions, focus on getting alignment on the goals of these authenticated experiences.

Do the research to determine what your customers and/or employees want to see – what will help them in their day-to-day interactions with your organization? How can you make certain actions and processes easier? What features will keep these users coming back?

Having a clear picture on requirements, and what these solutions need to accomplish, will ensure you’re on the right path when designing and implementing the experience.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING FOR AN INTRANET: 1.   How can an intranet build collaboration across departments/offices/teams?
2.   How can you leverage internal authentication and systems to drive personalized content for employees?
3.   Is there a need to syndicate content between intranet(s) and public-facing web properties? If so, how can this be done efficiently?
4.   Do you have a need for standardized workflows in the sales and customer service processes?
5.   Do you have franchise/brand/region-specific information that needs to be visible to the larger organization?
6.   What are the KPIs for your intranet?
7.   What will success look like?

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING FOR A PORTAL: 1.   What does the customer portal need to do?
2.   How can a customer portal enable customers to self-serve and drive more engagement and conversions?
3.   How can marketing tools and your CRM be leveraged to drive personalized content for customers and/or partners?
4.   Is there a need for regional or product personalization. Will content need to be translated into multiple languages to meet geographic requirements?
5.   What kind of security does your organization require?
6.   What are the KPIs for your portal?
7.   What does success look like?

If your organization is thinking about developing an intranet or portal to serve the evolving needs of users in our increasingly digital world, having a clear picture of the benefits they provide will you help further shape your strategy.

Take note: Want to learn more about about the value of intranets and portals and how they can help your organization drive engagement? Register to watch our on-demand webinar: "Essentials for Engagement: Customer Portals and Employee Intranets”. It will provide insights and perspectives on how to deliver against the new necessity for both intranets and portals, while offering practical ways to successfully serve customers, partners, and employees more efficiently.

Register now →

Jill Grozalsky is a Product Marketing Director at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.