Four Ways Employee Intranets Become Platforms for Innovation

By Mark Anderson

The leaders of today’s financial institutions are focused on process and system efficiency in order to cut costs, improve services and ultimately outpace the competition. Most recently, the expansion of fintech has supported these efforts by allowing banks to modernize systems and improve how employees complete daily tasks and interact with customers, all while broadening the scope of products and services.

Fintech providers are dynamic and offer a wide range of technologies—from customer-facing products to in-house operational tools—with an even wider range of capabilities. And although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of fintech, employee intranets are an example of a technology that has become more than an afterthought place to centralize communications and provide employees with access to vital policies, documents and procedures. Today, many banks are using technologically sophisticated intranets for a broad range of key business purposes, from training and engagement to marketing and compliance.

1Flexible employee training and learning management
In addition to centralizing bank policies, documents and procedures at the enterprise level, an intranet can be used to create and deploy educational courses. Controls or permissions provide leadership with oversight to ensure that employees only access information that is essential to their role, while preventing each employee’s individualized portal from getting cluttered with irrelevant information. In some cases, it’s as simple as having employees review a certain policy, watch a video or visit an external website. Courses can also involve more complex exercises that require participants to take and pass a test with a particular score, with all of this data being reported back to the administrators in charge of training or the intranet itself.

If the intranet is hosted externally or outsourced, employees and management have the added convenience of mobile compatibility—allowing everyone to access training materials from anywhere, on practically any device, as long as they have an internet connection. Internally hosted systems can integrate with a network’s existing directory service and also provide single sign-on, avoiding the need to remember multiple logins. Overall, this reduces friction in interacting with the system, which makes it more accessible for your employees and increases engagement.

2 Marketing initiatives
An intranet supports the marketing team’s efforts by streamlining the management, updates and distribution of new and existing marketing materials across the entire branch network. Rather than informing employees of a new marketing campaign via email—which doesn’t guarantee that the employees actually see the program details or ensure that they’re following protocol—having a centralized communications tool to distribute news and materials allows the marketing team to upload documents directly onto the intranet for easy access. And if any changes or edits need to be made, documents can be updated directly within the intranet and without producing multiple copies that clutter shared folders.

This ensures that there are no incorrect versions available to employees and that they are using the correct terminology and processes. For example, during a merger or acquisition, there is a great deal of information that must be updated. Employees using different logos, URLs or company names on customer-facing documents will cause confusion for the public. Suppose a new product is being launched. If that isn’t communicated effectively across the branch network, the opportunity to acquire new customers or increase loyalty among existing customers can be lost.

3 Employee engagement and corporate culture
With bank employee turnover at 10-year highs, according to a report from Quinlan and Associates, banks are focusing on finding new ways to drive meaningful relationships with employees and to reinforce their culture and branding. An intranet can provide all employees with the ability to recognize coworkers and peers for their hard work or to congratulate them on a personal or professional milestone. Similar to its ability to aggregate documents and information into a central location, an intranet brings a bank’s employees together by providing an easy way for them to communicate with one another.

Some banks use the intranet as a forum for employees to post independent blogs or messages to certain pages, much like a bulletin board in a large office, or as a venue for friendly competitions among branches and teams by hosting various types of contests. These types of interactions allow banks to connect their employees and give them a sense of community and commonality with their peers, who might otherwise never have the chance to interact. These are also great ways to make employees feel more valued and engaged, which enhances organizational performance and productivity.

4 Frontline service and compliance
Financial institutions are currently maintaining internal safeguards that effectively minimize the risk of cybercrime, but more sophisticated threats are emerging each day and with greater unpredictability. Recent high-profile hacks such as the WannaCry ransomware virus clearly demonstrate the need for employees and management to understand how to effectively secure, store and exchange information, while also being aware of ongoing security threats. An intranet fulfills this need by providing executive management with an immediate and straightforward method of distributing alerts and notifications of potential dangers or risks. Whether through a blog post or a notification banner that alerts employees as soon as they log in, an intranet can help mitigate risk to a bank’s finances, reputation and future business.

From a monitoring standpoint, modern analytics workflows allow intranets to track and report what sections of an intranet are being accessed and how frequently employees are using specific files, forms, documents, sections—anything in the intranet that requires a click. Otherwise, important procedures might be ignored that could ensure a bank’s continued success. These insights also allow executives to make adjustments in real time based on active data, which spares them the need of trying to figure out whether or not employees are simply ignoring a procedure, or if they simply cannot find it or have not seen it.

MARK ANDERSON is CEO of Banc Intranets.