Elena Bogdanova of Rivelty has shared the fascinating results from surveying 108 companies in Russia about their intranet capabilities and use. Russian intranets place a strong emphasis on a high-quality user experience, gamification is widely used, and they are relatively well funded compared to many Western counterparts.
These ‘at a glance’ facts and figures provide a snapshot of the pain points, improvement priorities, and successes that organisations in Russia have reported in 2019. As you read through the topics, keep in mind your strategic and tactical goals for your intranet and digital workplace. As our guest, Elena explains the results.
[Links may take you to Russian language web pages, which Chrome or MS Edge can auto-translate.]
Russian intranets at a glance
Speaking with peers at international conferences, reading intranet-experts posts, and studying industry reports, I see that Russian intranets are different to European and American intranets owing to cultural, political, and economic factors. The facts and figures from our annual survey might be useful for those who work in our industry, have offices of international companies in Russia, and anyone just curious the intranet landscape in other countries. Details about respondents can be found in the last block of the full infographic, which you can download as a PDF [8MB].
Results show that the intranet is available to more than 80% of employees in just over half the companies surveyed. These companies mostly work in finance or IT, or are start-ups, with knowledge workers. Blue-collar workers are less likely to have intranet access.
Just 24% have a mobile accessible intranet; those who have are usually very advanced, like Novolipetsk Steel. Their mobile intranet is available to 30,000 field workers and supports most HR requests, and provides corporate news, surveys, as well as professional and personal communities.
Around 40% plan to provide mobile access within two years. Mobile access is banned by the Information Security department in 10% of the companies.
Intranet platform and apps
Most organisations in Russia use a highly customised on-premises version of SharePoint, rather than the in-cloud version available with Office 365 (which seems so popular everywhere else in the world). Customisation is often so deep that it’s hard to recognise the SharePoint platform at all. The use of Office 365 continues to grow, but in Russia it’s only 11% of the market (up from 6% in 2017) and mostly used for document creation, sharing, and storage.
Forty percent of companies plan to upgrade their SharePoint version while 20% plan to change to another platform in the next two years.
Among local off-the-shelf solutions, the most popular is Bitrix24 (19%). Preferred by small and middle-sized organisations, but used by some enterprises too (metal companies, Novolipetsk Steel, and Rusal).
Almost a quarter prefer self-developed platforms and invest a lot in the beauty and UX (user experience) of the intranet. My favourite self-builds are from IT-companies like Rambler, Avito, and retail company, M.Video-Eldorado.
Intranet capabilities and usage
Russian intranets are usually used for news distribution, surveys, and search — true for 60+% companies. Each year, we find that video sharing rises just like on the web; in comparison to 2018, it’s up 12%.
Gamification is still quite popular in Russia — more than half of the companies use some game mechanics: badges, corporate money, or karma. For example, some offer intranet shops where you can cash in your corp money for breakfast with top managers or to book external training courses. Local gamification platform, Pryaniki, is often used.
Intranet teams and contractors
For a long time, intranet teams were made up of two people, usually an internal communicator and an IT person. Now, with the growing popularity of the product development approach to intranet management, almost 20% of companies have more than five full-time employees on the intranet team. An experienced intranet manager (a leadership role) can earn up to €42,000, although the average is €24,000 per year.
Agencies, vendors and consultants are always around to help. Half of the organisations attract contractors; 30% plan to spend up to €1.4m a year on contractors to develop their intranet, although two-thirds plan to spend less than €15,000. Vendors and developers mostly work on platform customization and implementation, IT-support, migration, and technical writing. Consultants and agencies are involved in navigation development, design and UX / UI, intranet audits, concept development, and workshops.
Intranet pain points and priorities for 2020
Even though some intranets are excelling across the board, there are a lot that still have space for development or are struggling with typical intranet problems. Top technical pain points — no mobile access, outdated platform, and a bunch of other portals that are not integrated properly and confuse users. UX is also pain for many. More than half the companies plan to work on user experience in 2020, while 27% plan to upgrade the intranet platform. Among other development priorities are new services, and workflow automation.
Russian excellence and challenges
From my point of view, the main challenges for Russian intranets are around the lack of clear ownership, strategy and governance, and the rarity of content audits. Fewer than 20% of organisations have the basic governance (management and regulations) in place to support a well-run intranet.
However, the beautiful and engaging designs of Russian intranets make me really proud. Many have a good overall UX with a fine UI and high-quality content, such as long-form articles, videos, and infographics. Often, budget for internal communications content is similar to the company’s marketing and advertising budget.
The wider intranet community
LinkedIn is not available in Russia anymore; Twitter isn’t used much. In the country of ‘matreshka dolls, vodka, and snow’, Facebook is the number one place for business communities and knowledge sharing.
Our Rivelty team runs a closed Facebook Group called Intranet.Abazhurnaya where 250+ in-house intranet people (no consultants) talk about the intranet and digital workplace. Personally, I share my thoughts on Facebook a lot too.
However, the main information source for Russian intranet people is local conferences (69%). International ones are not so popular yet — fewer than 15% have attended an intranet event abroad, although interest in international conferences has been growing, and Rivelty works to connect people to events across the world. I believe there’s a lot of value in getting involved with communities on- and offline; there are opportunities to speak, and of course to attend events and learn from peers. We run the Russian Intranet Awards, and free workshops; we endeavour to develop the local intranet industry and see our clients and peers succeed at an international level.
I think Russian intranets are undergoing a renaissance: leadership understands why it’s important to invest in development, teams have access to relevant information and inspiring case studies. Our annual survey clearly shows how fast the industry changes. Intranets get better and better. Such progress is evidenced by the international recognition of four Russian intranets in the last two years — Rambler, Central Bank, Moscow Domodedovo airport and Novolipetsk Steel — winning Intranet and Digital Workplace awards from StepTwo (three golds, one silver).
Intranet consultant and CEO of Rivelty.Intranet in Russia. Elena works with large (3,000 to 250,000 employees) companies from Russia’s top-3 to top-10 lists in retail, banking, telecom, oil, and metal industries. She is a member of judging panels for the Russian Intranet Awards and the Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards. Her team runs the annual ‘State of Russian Intranets’ survey.