We’re often asked by clients about the latest trends in the digital workplace and the intranet. What’s happening in the space? What are we going to see in the coming months and years? It’s also that time when we start to plan for the next year and reflect on the old. So, bringing that all together, here are some of our predictions for what will happen to digital workplaces and intranets in 2018.
Of course, making predictions about technology comes spring-loaded with the risk of getting it wrong. Technology-related predictions can completely overlook something or be widely optimistic. How many times have you looked back at hilarious predictions from decades ago which said we’d all be flying around with personal rocket packs by now, but completely failed to see the internet coming?
However, there are also some trends which we’re more confident about. Some of these are already happening now and will continue into the new year. So, dusting down the Content Formula crystal ball, it’s time to gaze into the future. Here’s our predictions!
Intranets continue to integrate with the wider digital workplace
If you work with intranets you’ll be aware of all the talk about the wider digital workplace – the portfolio of other applications and digital tools used throughout the organisation. Intranets often play a role as the “front door” to the digital workplace, either through links, favourites and service catalogues, or through integrated web parts which display data or allow users to complete simple transactions.
Sometimes other digital tools can be accessed via the intranet navigation or through landing pages, particularly when an intranet is based on SharePoint and parts of Office 365 are integrated with it. In 2018 we believe intranets will continue to be ever more tightly entwined with the wider digital workplace with further integration as the trajectory.
2018 is the year of the digital assistant
Digital assistants and chatbots are currently the focus of attention for many internal communicators and IT functions, and numerous organisations are currently experimenting with bots, or are in the process of deploying them.
We predict that 2018 will be the year of the digital assistant in the enterprise. We’ll be reading a lot about case studies and examples. The rise of enterprise-ready messaging platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and Workplace by Facebook gives a natural channel for bots to be successful, and even voice-activated tools like Alexa from Amazon are now also launched for the workplace.
Everybody’s going mad for Teams
We’re noticing a real groundswell of interest from clients in the use of Microsoft Teams. With Microsoft pushing this as a core part of Office 365, we think it will become a major focus for collaboration in the enterprise during 2018.
Don’t be surprised if you also start to see some integration with Teams into the intranet. For example, we’re currently working with a client on an intranet project where users will be able to access the list of Teams they are registered to from the very heart of the intranet.
Wave goodbye to year-long plus intranet projects
We’ve written before about how in-a-box products and agile development has helped to speed up intranet projects. You can deliver an excellent intranet in weeks if you wish. We think (and hope) that 2018 will finally put the kibosh on painful, energy-zapping year-long SharePoint intranet projects and banish them to the past. Faster implementations produce earlier ROI, are less costly and are more satisfying for everyone involved.
Renewed interest in governance
Governance sounds like a very dry topic, but it’s critical for success. Having the right processes, policies, roles and rules in place lets intranets and digital workplaces flourish and reduces the risk of something going wrong.
We believe several factors in 2018 will put governance back into the spotlight. As Microsoft continues to roll out more and more features of Office 365, central teams are likely to want to lock down some of the functionality for every day users.
Meanwhile cyber-security and reducing the risk of data breaches will continue to keep IT managers awake at night. GDPR compliance, coming into operation in May, will also be a huge focus for digital teams – and it needs to be considered for the digital workplace and employee data too, not just customer information. Having the right governance measures in place is the best approach to all of the above.
More choice than ever in the intranet market
Throughout 2017 we’ve seen a growth in the breadth of the range of options for intranet teams, particularly for turnkey solutions, some based on SharePoint and some not. Product proliferation will continue through 2018 with new market entrants and more product enhancements. That’s undoubtedly going to increase the choices for intranet teams, as competition will help to drive better quality products, good customer service and product innovation.
At Content Formula we’ve partnered with Wizdom, the best in-a-box solution on the market. We may even start to see some consolidation in the market, although we suspect this is more likely to happen in 2019.
The usual issues are still the usual issues
We’ve been working with intranets for well over a decade and during that time there’s some issues which never really go away. Yes, intranets really have evolved for the better and take in a wider set of functionality and capabilities, but teams are still driving adoption, getting excellent content and tackling challenges around findability. These issues continue to preoccupy intranet managers every year and 2018 will be no different!
Happy New Year!
Whatever happens in 2018, we think it’s going to be an interesting one for intranets and the digital workplace! And, of course, everybody at Content Formula wishes all our clients, partners, friends and contacts a very happy, successful, and healthy year ahead!