Content Formulas favourite intranet, SharePoint and Office 365 blog posts from 2017

Its nearly 2018, and as well as looking forward with our predictions for the coming year, weve been looking back over the past 12 months. Its been another exciting year for Content Formula, with our flourishing partnership with Wizdom Intranet, our continuing client work and our attendance at numerous conferences and events.

During 2017 weve also written a lot of articles for our blog covering intranets, SharePoint, Office 365, the digital workplace and more! Some of these posts are relevant to those starting out with an intranet project, while some will resonate more with those who already have a mature platform. So there’s something for everyone. Heres a selection of our most popular posts.  Happy reading!

15 ways you can integrate Office 365 functionality into your intranet

Many organisations are basing their intranet on SharePoint Online and Office 365.  This provides an excellent opportunity to integrate some of the powerful tools from the Office 365 suite right into the intranet experience, allowing you to drive adoption and improve efficiency. In this post our UX Director John Scott lists 15 of the most powerful ways to integrate Office 365 and your intranet. Get ready for lots of screenshots!

We need a new intranet. Where do I start?

Occasionally we stumble across a company which still doesnt have an intranet, or has grown rapidly to the point where it really need one. This article looks at the broad steps teams need to follow to get a new intranet from starting an internal conversation to building a strategy and business case all the way through to implementing that intranet project.

Define your intranet strategy before you buy your intranet

Were always surprised by the number of organisations who have no intranet strategy but are still going full steam ahead with buying intranet software and starting a project. In this thoughtful post Dan Hawtrey explains what an intranet strategy is and outlines seven key reasons for developing one. He also reiterates the importance of research and understanding your users to deliver a successful intranet.

How to be an intranet video star

So far video had a bit of a bumpy ride inside the enterprise compared to the consumer world. The meteoric rise of YouTube hasnt exactly been matched by the success of internal video sharing platforms. In this video (about video!) John Scott explores how you can move forward with video on your intranet. Its based on a well-received presentation John gave at the IntraTeam conference in Copenhagen in the Spring.

Making the business case for your intranet

How do you go about making a business case for your intranet? What should you include in it and what type of evidence do you need to argue your case?  And how should you present it? This very practical checklist is full of tips and advice and a great starting point for preparing an argument to present to your stakeholders.

Stay close to your users to deliver a great intranet

Here at Content Formula we know how important it is to listen to and actively involve your users in an intranet project. Staying close to your users helps you to carry out the effective user research needed to build a great intranet as well as test and validate the design. It also supports your  change management efforts as you build advocacy through involvement. This post explores the contribution users make and how to involve them throughout your project.

Microsoft unveils whole host of Office 365, SharePoint and OneDrive updates at #MSIgnite

OK, we admit we are a bit geeky here at Content Formula, especially when it comes to Office 365 and SharePoint. Naturally we always are excited by what Microsoft will reveal in its announcements at the annual Ignite conference. Here our Technical Director Joe Perry lists some of the major changes on the horizon from new hub sites to improvements to Teams to a whole new SharePoint admin centre.

Got Office 365? Why opting for a non-SharePoint intranet is madness!

This post was partly inspired by a conversation we had with a potential client about whether it was right to go with a non-SharePoint intranet when they had Office 365. In our view it doesnt make much sense at all!  This article covers how a SharePoint intranet allows you to fully leverage your investment in Office 365 by integrating with the wider suite of tools, helping to drive adoption and creating a gateway to your digital workplace. It also reduces costs, avoids user confusion and means youre future-proofed!

Running an intranet RFP an agency view

We often get asked to participate in RFPs to win new work. If youve never run an RFP process before it can prove to be time-consuming and require a lot of effort. Here Dan Hawtrey gives his thoughts on how to manage an intranet-related RFP and provides some tips for success that will help you to choose the best digital partner for your company.

Buy or build your intranet? Off-the-shelf versus custom build (webinar)

Back in April we held a webinar led by Dan Hawtrey and John Scott which examined how intranets have shifted over the last couple of years from being mainly custom-built for each individual organisation to where purchasing an off-the-shelf intranet now makes more sense. In this recording we take a deep dive into the buy or build question and rate the two approaches across different criteria such as cost, access, scope, speed and relevance.

And lots of information about Wizdom features!

Way back in January we announced our partnership with Wizdom, the leading SharePoint-in-a-box product. Wizdom comes packed with features and capabilities, some of which weve covered throughout the year.

So if you want to read about Wizdoms excellent Learning Management System, its highly useful policy library feature, the instant intranet Accelerate module which revolutionises deployment or its great approach to news (mixing more formal corporate news and informal noticeboard items), then youve come to the right blog!

Keep on reading!

Were going to be carrying on writing post and articles in 2018 covering practical advice and tips, the latest developments in the SharePoint and Office 365 world, our thoughts and more. Let us know if theres something youd like to cover. See you next year!

Wizdoms continual improvement: a look at Wizdoms product roadmap

One of the reasons Content Formula chose to partner with Wizdom is the teams continuing investment in the product and a strong commitment to continual improvement. Just as Microsoft continues to add to Office 365 and introduce new features, the team at Wizdom is very active in driving a programme of enhancements.

In fact, at the time of writing, there have already been seventeen releases to the Wizdom platform since the beginning of the calendar year already. By the time you are reading this there will probably have been an eighteenth release.

While the improvements and plans for WIzdom are heavily influenced by the latest developments on the Office 365 and SharePoint roadmap, the primary driver for prioritising changes is feedback from Wizdoms customers. The team back in Denmark are very good at listening to customers and assimilating their needs into the product roadmap. Were in frequent conversation with Wizdom HQ too, giving feedback from our customers who have installed or are on their way to installing a Wizdom intranet.

Wizdoms commitment to continual improvement means several features have recently been introduced, and that there are more enhancements on the horizon. Here are some of the recent and upcoming changes were most excited about.

Recent improvements

Many of the recent changes to Wizdom have improved the user experience. For example, notifications have recently gone through a complete overhaul with a notifications bar displaying personalised updates for individuals including @ mentions from other users in posts.

Other developments have been more about the configuration of the product.  These include the recent introduction of the Accelerate module, a semi-automated way to provision a whole site structure. After just one meeting (where we will go through a structured process with a client) an intranet team can have an intranet which they can start to add content to. This helps drive agile project delivery, reduces costs, speeds up implementation and allows intranet teams to better envisage their site structure and templates.

Lightning pages and cloud performance

The Accelerate module is just one way to make installing an intranet quicker, but there are other changes being made to improve speed and performance. The speed at which intranet pages load isnt always acknowledged as a key component of the intranet user experience, but theres nothing more frustrating than waiting for a page to fully render, particularly if youre accessing the intranet from outside your network and you have weak connectivity.

In response Wizdom has introduced the Lightning pages module, allowing certain popular templated pages within your intranet (such as the homepage) to load faster than they would in traditional SharePoint.  In parallel, Wizdom has also worked on various optimisations which also enhance cloud performance, working even on minor tweaks to code. Collectively weve seen all these changes make an improvement to page speeds which will be noticed by your users.

Multi-geo support

Speed and performance will be further improved over the next few months as the Wizdom team intend to work on a multi-housing arrangement for Wizdom, which will allow global companies to receive Wizdom from servers located in more than one region. Potentially this means Asia-Pacific based workers could receive Wizdom from a server based nearer to them rather than a server based in Europe, again resulting in better page load speeds. This development mirrors Microsofts commitment to give SharePoint a similar multi-geo capability which was recently announced at Ignite.

Introducing the Service Desk

Wizdom has already introduced employee services capability into its intranet, including a great course management module to drive employee learning and development.

The latest addition is the Service Desk capability, which organisations can use as a cost-effective way to run a lightweight IT or HR helpdesk. Employees can log tickets directly via the intranet and helpdesk teams can track progress to resolution.

This innovation was based on original functionality developed by Wizdom for a bank logging customer calls, so its already been through some robust use. Were expecting over the coming months there will be more enhancements to the Service Desk, giving customers another option to extend their intranet into a wider digital workplace. Note that there is an additional charge for the Service Desk module above the core Wizdom intranet product.

More help and training

Another improvement were looking forward to is an expansion of Wizdoms current help and training portal Wizdom Success Centre. We find that our clients like to be as self-sufficient as possible in extending the possibilities of their Wizdom intranet and an expanded help portal will help. Wizdom are going to be adding more knowledgebase content and how-to videos to truly make the portal the go to place for everything to do with Wizdom, ultimately allowing customers to get more out of their intranet.

The modern experience

A key change in SharePoint has been the introduction of modern experiences, resulting in pages which have an updated and more contemporary look and feel than classic SharePoint. Were expecting this to have a significant impact on Wizdoms roadmap into 2018, meaning that there will be full support for SharePonts modern experience over the coming months.

Well keep you posted

Were excited about whats ahead for the Wizdom platform. Its a great product with a continuing programme of investment, with new features and improvements coming through next year and beyond. Well be covering these on the Content Formula blog so check back often to keep up to date on the latest news!

Content Formulas intranet and digital workplace trends for 2018

Were often asked by clients about the latest trends in the digital workplace and the intranet.  Whats happening in the space? What are we going to see in the coming months and years? Its 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 wed 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 were 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, its time to gaze into the future. Heres our predictions!

Intranets continue to integrate with the wider digital workplace

If you work with intranets youll 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. Well 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.

Everybodys going mad for Teams

Were 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.

Dont be surprised if you also start to see some integration with Teams into the intranet. For example, were 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 as well as archive old Teams content, tag it and make it fully searchable.

Wave goodbye to year-long plus intranet projects

Weve 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 its 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 weve 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. Thats 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 weve 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

Weve been working with intranets for well over a decade and during that time theres 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 its 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!

Wizdom adds award to list of merits

Intranet Choice Europe 2018

Our partner Wizdom, leading provider of the highest rated intranet solution built on SharePoint and Office 365, has been awarded the Intranet Choice Europe 2018 recognition by ClearBox Consulting in their newly published and extensive Sharepoint Intranets In-A-Box report for 2018 thus adding to Wizdoms list of merits.

The 437-page report from UK based ClearBox, aimed at intranet managers and IT teams, evaluates 42 intranet vendors via an unbiased approach adhering to the companys Vendor Neutral policy giving potential intranet shoppers insights to base purchase decisions on. Here Wizdom excelled in the eight different scenarios with sets of criteria that make up the backbone of the evaluation with vendor questionnaires and live demonstrations as the key contributors.

With a Cool Vendor in the Digital Workplace 2017 recognition from Gartner already well in place under Wizdoms belt this year, the ClearBox recognition is a prestigious addition highlighting Wizdoms feature rich and 100% customizable intranet solution.

We are extremely thrilled with the recognition from ClearBox says John Wainer, CEO and Partner, Wizdom. It emphasizes the quality of our Wizdom product and the hard work of our development team to continuously offer an evergreen product that matches the needs and requirements of the market whether youre a SMB or enterprise corporation John Wainer ends.

More information and purchase of the report from ClearBox Consulting is available from the companys website here.

The original article was published here.

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