There are a growing number of SharePoint off-the-shelf intranet products on the market. On the surface many of these look great with good functionalities and nice designs. However, on closer inspection it becomes clear that their integration with SharePoint and Office 365 is not very comprehensive or sophisticated. True ‘native’ SharePoint integration is an important differentiator that only a few of the SharePoint products on the market can claim. The Wizdom turnkey intranet is one such product. But, what does native SharePoint really mean? And why is it an advantage?
Why non-native can let you down
Many intranet-in-a-box solutions for SharePoint are non-native – they interact with SharePoint. Most often this means that they can store their content on SharePoint but other than that they sit completely separately from it.
There are two significant disadvantages to this separation:
- When new features are added to SharePoint by Microsoft, they are not immediately available in the non-native intranet. Before you can start using them, the intranet-in-a-box vendor has to first release an update to their product. Given the volume, frequency and speed of updates coming from Office 365 this is something to consider. Your intranet users could miss out on new Office 365 functionality.
- Also, because the intranet and SharePoint are two separate systems, when users navigate from SharePoint to the intranet and vice-versa, they will notice a change – it isn’t a seamless experience and can feel like there are two separate intranets. Having a consistent and seamless user experience is important when it comes to user adoption of your new intranet, Office 365 or any other business tools you have running.
Going native future-proofs your intranet and makes for a seamless user experience
Wizdom, on the other hand, is native to SharePoint. It also improves the SharePoint user experience, but it sits within SharePoint itself. Using Microsoft’s technical jargon it is an ‘app add-in’. Just like any other SharePoint apps that you can buy, it can be installed in a couple of minutes into SharePoint. This is a good litmus test for native SharePoint intranets.
One of the biggest advantages of this is that you can use all the standard SharePoint features alongside Wizdom’s own app –all on the same pages. Your employees get one unified, seamless experience. For example, let’s say you want to develop a custom business application on SharePoint, something that is unique to your business and that doesn’t come as part of an off-the-shelf intranet. You can build this and have it running on the intranet just like any other SharePoint app. This makes Wizdom highly extensible as your business needs evolve. By the way – you can also build custom apps directly within the Wizdom framework but that’s another post for another time.
And when Microsoft rolls out new features to SharePoint, you can benefit from those improvements immediately. You don’t need to wait for Wizdom to make an update to the product.
Wizdom gives you greater control and is more closely aligned with the Microsoft enterprise architecture and its product development strategy. There are more than 50 features that come with Wizdom but you can still use other SharePoint apps too – be they existing apps that you may have built for your old intranet, new apps, and third-party apps.
“A way to get your head around the native versus non-native thing is to look at iPhone apps. When you install an app from the Apple app store you are installing a native app. It is able to seamlessly integrate with many of the features in the iPhone like the camera, GPS, fingerprint reader, accelerometer etc.”
Joe Perry, Technical Manager