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Digital transformation for improved employee experience

Like many well-established organizations undergoing digital transformations today, Principal Financial was using a legacy internal platform to store documents and corporate communications.

With more than 16,000 employees located in more than 25 countries and territories around the world, this approach resulted in poor information management practices that negatively impacted employee productivity.


Principal Financial wanted to create a modern employee experience that made communication and collaboration more of a productive and consumer-like experience for its employees.

The company decided to create a central platform that would allow for the globalization, personalization, and localization of its intellectual property. The IT team also decided that its digital workplace system needed to allow for user-generated content, collaboration, and point-to-point messaging.

Further, it all needed to be contextualized based on individual users’ roles within the business, skill levels and knowledge areas across the globe.

Operating in such a large-scale organization where employees know few people outside their teams/departments, the digital workplace also needed to operate as an employee directory so that each user could have a deep understanding of the roles filled by their peers.

As if all that wasn’t challenging enough, Principal Financial’s new digital workplace needed to comply with all regional data and security laws. So, it needed to accommodate new processes that had to be implemented quickly, and it needed to communicate those changes to employees in dozens of languages.

A new, modern intranet platform.

Principal Financial was unable to find an off-the-shelf solution that would fit their needs, so it required a customizable solution that could be implemented without an outrageous investment or major ground-up build.

Akumina’s strong foundation of best-in-breed information architecture, features, and functions saved Principal from having to build from scratch. Combined with the ability to provide true content democratization while still allowing the finance moguls to maintain a highly-regulated governance structure, their decision to use AkuminaEXP to power their digital workplace was inevitable. 




Principal Financial’s new employee experience platform now offers:

  • Real-time commenting and ‘Likes’ on news and blogs.
  • Personalized experiences for all 16,000+ employees based on business unit (BU) and location.
  • Employees can customize their experience with personal bookmarks and application lists.
  • Contemporary site structure and interface.
  • Mobile-friendly capabilities.
  • Improved enterprise search.


“"Just like customer experience, employee experience and the digital workplace, it’s a journey. There isn’t necessarily a target end to it. It’s about gaining that efficiency and productivity and trying to continue to drive, but it’s not a one-and-done thing.""

Keith Kratochvil | Enterprise Architect, Principal Financial

Q&A with Principal Financial

Keith Kratochvil, Enterprise Architect, Principal Financial



On our digital workplace journey, we had a clear mission statement: “Our Digital Workplace will help us unleash our potential by connecting people, information, and ideas to develop solutions.” Digital workplace discussions typically center around tools and technology, but I think it’s important to focus on creating a connection between employees, information, and ideas.

As a 140-year-old company, we rely heavily on a highly tenured workforce – a culture of people who know each other – and trying to shift to digital has been a major challenge for us. We’ve worked hard to build a culture where employees work like they live and rely on fluid personal interactions and open information sharing. We couldn’t lose that aspect of the workplace so we worked with Akumina to determine how we could translate it into our EX strategy.

At our Des Moines, Iowa campus, seventy-five percent of our employees are deskless. To accommodate that majority population, we were careful in building both our digital and physical workspaces. We shifted to more flexible hours and began allowing employees to work remotely. We also we built shared workspaces and 450 Skype-enabled rooms that employees have logged more than 1.5 million Skype hours from in the past 12 months.

For our digital workplace, we knew we needed to make mobility a priority, so we were pleased with Akumina’s mobile-first approach, which ensured that our employees could access their digital workplace on any device, from any location.

I believe that employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) are the same disciplines – you can use the same tools, but at the end of the day you’re optimizing for different goals. Investing in EX will help with your CX goals and vice versa. This has been a challenging thing to sell to our internal stakeholders, but they’re starting to see the benefits for themselves as our EX initiative has progressed. Happier and more engaged employees give better service and provide better experiences to customers. This is a reality I’m sure we’ve all seen in our day-to-day lives with the brands with engage with.

Our intranet has become a unified, personalized platform connecting our employees to tools, information and each other. It empowers employees to take action, find solutions and share knowledge and experiences. Our employees now have a tailored experience that allows them to know what’s going on in the company, their business units and their locations, while empowering them to connect with others doing similar work.