Adobe intranet clicks with users
A cloud-native intranet refresh has ushered in a new era of communication and interaction at Adobe.
San Jose, California
Update the Inside Adobe intranet to accommodate mobile friendly design and content
Improve navigation and make important content easier to find
Introduce a cloud-native infrastructure with seamless upgrades and no downtime
Inside Adobe is fully responsive, mobile-ready, and available from any ZEN-enabled device
Employee feedback has been overwhelmingly positive
99.9% uptime while the site redesign was taking place
Intranets typically aren’t viewed as a source of excitement for employees. At best, they’re considered a functional necessity, and some would say they’re worthy of eliciting yawns. When Adobe looked to ratchet up its intranet, I_nside Adobe_, in response to changing online expectations and a rapidly shifting digital environment, the focus was squarely on transformation and employee engagement.
Then, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, an even greater sense of urgency ensued. Over a single weekend, almost the entire workforce shifted to working from home. “We recognized that the dynamics of internal work were changing—in some cases radically due to the pandemic—and we had to offer employees an intranet that was dynamic and relevant. It had to connect people to the right information quickly and efficiently,” states Nathan Etter, Senior Vice President, Adobe.com & Marketing Technology at Adobe.
Of course, it’s one thing to recognize a problem—in this case the need for a major intranet refresh—but it’s quite another to map out all the changes, rewire connection points, modernize the look of a site, refresh content and assemble everything in a clean, modern and user-friendly way. Adding to the challenge: “Adobe’s mission is to change the world through digital experiences - and our employees certainly have very high expectations for the experiences we build for them,” Etter explains.
When the Inside Adobe project went live in December 2020, employees could instantaneously access the intranet from any device thanks to the fully responsive templates. They could more easily connect with other employees with similar interests or skills, manage their benefits and access news and events from anywhere. When it was all said and done, the rebuilt Inside Adobe intranet site garnered overwhelmingly positive feedback from employees. A member of the Employee Communications team raved, “My heart flutters every time I open the new Inside Adobe. I still can’t get over this beautiful design and functionality.”
From inventing the PDF file to developing an ecosystem comprised of design, marketing and analytics solutions, Adobe has always spun a tight orbit around unleashing creativity and improving online experiences. However, the previous intranet refresh had taken place in 2013, an entire generation in online years. While it had initially captured a prestigious Nielsen Norman Group Top 10 Intranets Award, the site had grown stale. The design looked dated, navigation was at times confusing, and in some cases, didn’t provide access to important content.
Adobe’s intranet team set out to produce a new Inside Adobe that was attractive, responsive and fully accessible—no small challenge. Since the last site update, the number of Adobe employees had more than doubled and the online world and user expectations had fundamentally changed. “It wasn’t as simple as giving the site a more modern look, we knew we had to rebuild it from the ground up.” Etter says.
“It wasn’t as simple as giving the site a more modern look, we knew we had to rebuild it from the ground up.”
Senior Vice President, Adobe.com & Marketing Technology at Adobe
Over the previous few years, mobile access had gained prominence and responsive design had become a necessity. Improved navigation and personalization—and connection points to others in a company—had become imperative. All while self-service had evolved from a desirable option to an absolute requirement. In late 2018, the intranet team started mapping out what the next generation of online interaction would look like.
A first step was to reach out to employees and stakeholders to ask for input. Not surprisingly, bright and brash staff had no shortage of ideas and suggestions. It was important to understand both preferences and requirements. We asked, ‘What do you want the site to be? What do you want to highlight on a page? How can we help you connect to your audience?’” explains Ray Brulotte, Inside Adobe Product Owner. The team sorted through everything and came up with initial designs to test with users. They used the information and feedback they received to build the navigational structure, page templates and Adobe Experience Manager components.
In addition, the group was given the opportunity to be “Customer Zero” for Experience Manager as a Cloud Service, Adobe’s content management system to create and manage digital experiences across all channels - newly outfitted with the upgraded performance and security of cloud-native architecture. It began working with the product team to ensure that the platform was being deployed for maximum results.
Inside Adobe is the gateway to Adobe’s digital workplace. It is integrated with critical tools and technologies—including HR platform Workday and support framework ServiceNow. It also includes expense reporting (via Concur), procurement (via Ariba), and regional benefit and payroll portals, all enabled with multi-factor authentication and single sign-on functionality within an omni-channel cloud-native environment. This approach boosts productivity, reduces technical overhead and improves security.
A big benefit of the cloud-native platform and a template-centric approach is that it allows design and content specialists—as well as teams posting news, events and other information—to spin up new and revised content for Inside Adobe without the need to involve technical developers and engineers. Moreover, authors can target content based on users’ location, organization or role. The platform simplifies development through core components, and content re-use via a style system, and content and experience fragments. This includes pages about COVID-19 and working from home along with user generated content, such as birthdays, interests and skills, that keeps people engaged and connected while working remotely.
Employees now have easy access to fill out personal profiles that help them to connect with and look up other employees. “There’s a whole social engagement aspect that has become more important during the pandemic,” points out Brulotte. “Since it’s impossible to get to know people at the office, we’re encouraging them to fill out their profiles and get to know their coworkers online. We refer to it as their ‘elevator pitch’ and it includes a description of their passions and interests, whether it’s video gaming, reading, cooking or travel.”
The site clicked with employees immediately. In addition to eliciting high user ratings, employees praised the clean and modern design, easy access to essential tools, improved navigation and search, and overall speed and performance gains. What’s more, because the intranet is now cloud native, it’s possible to use the most current versions of software, and the Inside Adobe team has access to analytics that display trends and drive further improvements.
A Site Seen
It isn’t lost on the Inside Adobe team that the pandemic has skewed usage—and digital technology will further accelerate the demand for services through the intranet. “The world moves incredibly fast, and we are now in a position to react quickly,” Brulotte says. With a cloud-native platform in place, templates and components that allow non-technical users to update pages and navigation, powerful analytics and the ability to shift directions on a dime, we can stay current and relevant as user attitudes and behaviors change,” he points out.
“Intranets are quite different from commercial websites. They require unique design approaches and different capabilities. With Inside Adobe, we’ve taken an already award-winning site and made it even better for our employees.”
Senior Vice President, Adobe.com & Marketing Technology at Adobe
Once the pandemic ends, there will be a need for new and improved features. “People will return to riding trains to work, they will resume using office functions, and they will look for different news and information. Fortunately, the platform is agile and flexible enough to deal with whatever comes our way,” Brulotte says. In the coming months, the group plans to add functionality, including alerts and notifications, additional personalization and decentralized authoring.
To be sure, moving to the cloud has made a clear difference. The project has transformed internal communication and interaction—and added robust functionality. Concludes Etter: “Intranets are quite different from commercial websites. They require unique design approaches and different capabilities. With Inside Adobe, we’ve taken an already award-winning site and made it even better for our employees. We don’t subscribe to the belief that the site must simply be functional; we want Inside Adobe to be something that employees love and want to use every single day.”
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