Why a ‘native’ SharePoint intranet-in-a-box like Wizdom is best

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.

Representation of a on-native SharePoint intranet with only basic integration
Non-native SharePoint intranet with only basic integration


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 isnt 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 Microsofts 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.

Representation of a native SharePoint intranet
A native SharePoint intranet integrates directly with the SharePoint framework exactly how Microsoft intended and allows more interactions between the two platforms


One of the biggest advantages of this is that you can use all the standard SharePoint features alongside Wizdoms own app all on the same pages. Your employees get one unified, seamless experience. For example, lets 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.

Rpresentation of an intranet page showing both kinds of webparts
Because Wizdom is a native SharePoint app your intranet pages can contain both SharePoint and Wizdom webparts giving users a seamless experience


And when Microsoft rolls out new features to SharePoint, you can benefit from those improvements immediately. You dont 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.

You can arrange a Wizdom demo or find out more, including ordering brochures, on our Wizdom SharePoint intranet page.

“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

How social intranets drive digital transformation

Yesterday @Wedge and @Blamb from Intranet Now held a hackathon-like event. The objective was to create a practical handbook for intranet and comms teams who are involved in digital transformation in their organisations. The room was filled with a rich mix of intranet managers, internal comms managers, IT and intranet consultants many of whom have first hand experience with digital transformation drives.

The idea of creating a handbook specifically for intranet practitioners makes sense. Whilst the intranet isnt always going to be held up as an exemplar of digital transformation it clearly has a role to play in communication.


A definition

But what exactly do we mean by digital transformation? The group seemed to have a bunch of definitions that more or less sit on a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum we have a definition where DT is more akin to a metamorphosis where a company completely reinvents itself and disrupts its own industry with a ground breaking digital invention. This aspirational definition certainly fits with the word ‘transformation but it isnt very realistic because not every company can disrupt its industry. The world just doesnt work like that. Also, there arent many examples of traditional companies that have done this. Can you think of any?

At the other end of the definition spectrum we have the idea of a very pedestrian change where a company adopts digital ways of working such as process automation. But this definition falls over when you ask the question, would Kodak have survived if it had focused on process automation? Nokia? Blockbuster Video? No. They died because they failed follow the market.

So rather boringly I think the real life definition sits somewhere in the middle. A few companies most probably new upstarts  are going to disrupt industries and the large majority will follow and copy and iteratively find ways to differentiate themselves in order to grab their market share. And some will die or disappear into insignificance.


2 crucial roles for the social intranet and its manager

You have to go through the arguments about defining DT in order to realise that its a bit of a red herring. The correct definition doesnt really matter. Which ever one you chose its ultimately about change and the intranet plays two crucial roles in driving it.

First, the intranet as a communication channel is an important one. Not just in terms of getting the initial message and objective out there but also to change behaviours and attitudes through telling stories. Testing out new ideas is key to digital transformation and the intranet can really help communicate these tests and crucially, help get the point across that its ok for tests to fail. Most companies struggle with understanding creative failure. As the official voice of the organisation the intranet can help break the failure-is-good-for-you taboo. To do this effectively comms and intranet managers need journalistic and networking skills to sniff out the good stories and write them up in a compelling way. They also need consistency of messaging and persistence. Keeping at it on top of all the other things in the job description.

The second crucial role that the intranet plays is as a social and collaborative hub. A place where people can go to discover content, collaborate and exchange ideas fluidly and easily. This is because digital transformation is above all about innovation. The human mind needs external stimulation in order to come up with new ideas.  Modern ways of working, when implemented correctly and successfully, create connections, facilitate stimulation and accelerate the development of new ideas. Intranet managers therefore need to continue at building the case for the social intranet, implement it in ways that foster creativity and work to build adoption. Thats all easier said than done. Youll have to wait for the release of our handbook in order to find out more. Well be sure to publish the link here when its live. In an upcoming post well also explore in more detail what makes a good social intranet.

Microsoft Teams versus Slack

Following our recent piece on Microsoft Teams we’ve come across this great infographic on the differences between Teams and Slack.

Credit to Techwyse

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