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Digital Workplace vs. Collaborative Intranet

Person using a digital workplace or an intranet

There are many terms used to talk about internal social networks, and it can be difficult to find one’s way around. While the good old intranet is still ingrained in some organizations, in others enterprise social networks (ESN) and the digital workplace have already replaced it. Over the past decade or so, these innovative collaborative platforms have continued to grow in popularity. But how exactly do they work?

Let’s go back together to the distinction between intranet and digital workplace and how companies have gradually moved from one to the other.

The end of the intranet?

From a rather static tool…

The intranet appeared around the time the Internet took companies by storm. It was initially a simple internal website, accessible only to company employees. These intranets were mainly used for communication and for accessing information. Think unilateral, top-down communication, upon the initiative of the marketing, communication or human resources departments.

In the 1990s, this intranet typically consisted of a rather unattractive home page with company news and resources that weren’t always easy to find. 

… to collaborative solutions

But with the evolution of digital uses, intranets have brought about profound change. Little by little, they’ve become conversational tools—thus becoming more collaborative— with the aim of promoting interaction with two main objectives: encouraging both feedback from employees on “central” communications and internal exchanges among employees.

This transition was made through enterprise social networks (ESNs). Today, these ESNs have become almost indispensable for companies—especially for optimizing internal communication. Communication is no longer top-down, but two-way and more horizontal. Within just a few years, everyone within the same organization has become a producer and contributor of internal information.

The rise of the digital workplace

At a time when social networks are ubiquitous, even invading the professional sphere, companies are relying more and more on enterprise social networks.

But the collaborative dimension has gradually developed to the point that these internal platforms have become real working tools.

This explains the emergence of new and comprehensive digital work environments: collaborative platforms that go much further than an ESN, and no longer have anything to do with the intranets of yesteryear.

We now talk about digital workplaces: all-in-one platforms that offer employees an exceptional user experience. They enable them to work more efficiently, be more productive and focus on the tasks that really matter.

The digital workplace is a space that mixes work and exchange. Everyone can organize their own work and missions and have access to their own usual tools, but also exchange via instant messaging or videoconferencing with their team, partners, suppliers and customers.


After multiple mutations linked to the digital transformation, the digital workplace is the distant descendant of the intranet, which was born at the dawn of the Internet. It offers a new collaborative environment that is anchored in the revolution of work modes, namely “anytime, anywhere, from any device.” 

This is the workspace of the future. A future that’s already here for more and more companies…

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Want to find out more about the collaborative solution Talkspirit can offer you? Contact us. Our teams will be delighted to provide you with advice and feedback to help your project take off.

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Author: Paul Maubareyt

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