3 things you must consider when designing a mobile intranet

Delivering the corporate intranet on mobile devices is perhaps the most effective initiative you can take to increase intranet usage.

Not only will the intranet become omnipresent, always available to users in any situation. Also, youll make the intranet accessible for new employee groups that have not been able to fully benefit from the intranet before, such as frontline workers.

As an extra benefit, youll have new methods available, like mobile push notifications, to motivate staff to go to your intranet. However, designing a mobile intranet requires special considerations for the medium youll be delivering your service through. Here, well go through three central points you really should consider when adding your intranet to mobile devices.


1. Mobile app vs. responsive intranet

A responsive intranet can be viewed from different devices and screen sizes. A mobile app, on the other hand, is a separate application that is downloaded and installed on smartphones and tablets. Responsiveness is definitely good for usability. But, even though a responsive intranet has the advantage of being instantly available in mobile browsers, a mobile app, however, has at least seven important benefits:


A mobile app spares users from typing on a small screen

Typing the full URL of the intranet in a smartphones browser can be troublesome. Even if users take the initiative to save the intranet as a shortcut, its not ultra-intuitive to navigate to the intranet from a mobile browser. When users first have the mobile intranet app downloaded to their smartphone, they can find it effortlessly, just like theyre used to navigating to any other app on their smartphone. An act we are all trained so proficiently in, the behaviour it is automatic. Also, depending on your security settings, the app can spare employees typing in their intranet login every time they open the intranet on their phones, making it simple for users to open the intranet and start using it.

A mobile app can engage with push-notifications

App notifications are a proven tool for engagement. A mobile app tool can help lead your users to the intranet. Both for reminding employees that they have the intranet app there on their smartphone, and for calling direct attention to news or other important content.


A mobile app can offer offline access

Even though the world is very wired, mobile intranet users can come in situations where connection to the internet isnt stable. You might have staff working in emergency situations, on the ocean, or just in areas with a slow internet connection. With a mobile app, you can allow offline access to some content and functions and enable employees to report back from the frontline, from any place in the world.


A mobile app delivers a clean version of your intranet

A responsive intranet offers a one to one representation of the desktop intranet on mobile devices. While this has some advantages in terms of recognition for the employees who are very used to using the intranet on their desktop (and this might not be a large percentage of all employees), it most likely will cause confusion.

A mobile intranet should offer users content and navigation especially optimized for use on the go. As you can custom design both navigation and content for the mobile experience in an app, a mobile app allows for this.


A mobile app enables pages to load faster

Users really dont want to wait for pages to load. A study performed by Google found that longer page load time drastically increases the likelihood of a visitor bouncing from a mobile site.


If a mobile app is well designed, its remarkably faster performing on a mobile device than the responsive desktop version. Thereby, improving usability significantly.


A mobile app is more secure

Offering you intranet in an app, instead of in the mobile browser, will enable you to make the mobile intranet available through mobile device management (MDM). In this way, IT can fully secure the intranet content and, also, remove the app from particular phones e.g. in situations where an employee loses his or her phone.


Users fancy apps

Mobile apps are not just the future of mobile usage, its also very much the current trend. The app share of total mobile minutes lies between 80 and 94%, depending on country. This means, users spend the absolute vast amount of their time on mobile devices in mobile apps.

Delivering your mobile intranet as an app will make your intranet available in a way that users like to consume content and use tools on their smartphones.

2. Content and navigation

When you first designed your intranet, you probably considered scenarios for intranet usage and asked yourself how the intranet could help different groups of employees in their workday.

Its a good idea to repeat this exercise when you design your mobile intranet, as a mobile intranet can be used in whole new situations.

We see mobile intranets being used by field staffers during the workday, when people check their phones at home at night, when staff transport themselves to and from work using public transportation, during lunch, and even during a workday in the office alongside the desktop intranet, perhaps motivated by app notifications.

The needs for information and tools differ in these situations. For example, people generally like to check news when they commute. Field workers need tools readily available to either retrieve vital information, report from the field, or be social with their colleagues using social features and messaging.

You can probably add situations and needs to the list that are unique for the way employees in your organization will use a mobile intranet.

Understanding the circumstances in which different staff groups in your organization will use a mobile intranet and what they will need from the mobile app in these situations can help you design the optimal mobile app.

Not only the way the intranet is used is different for a mobile intranet. The phone as a medium has restrictions the desktop doesnt. In the context of a smartphone, people are limited by the small screen. Typing in long texts when reporting would be troublesome and timely, as would a heavy intranet navigation confronting users with many choices and levels of navigation.

With a simple navigation designed for the mobile experience, people can quickly retrieve the information and tools they need.

You can help users further by considering the trouble of using small smartphone keys. Offer a list of options or type-ahead for filling out forms from the mobile app and enable users to report back with images, video, and/or audio.

Considering and carefully designing the content, tools, and navigation of your mobile app is worth the effort.

3. Security

Delivering confidential content on employees private smartphones obviously composes a risk.

This risk can be almost eliminated by offering the mobile intranet as an app through mobile device management (MDM) on managed corporate smartphones and by asking users to log in every time they open the app. However, often strict security can affect usability negatively.

If users must log in to the intranet app every time they open it, it creates a barrier between users and the intranet. On the other hand, if employees can freely download the intranet as an app from Apple Store or Google Play on their private smartphones, they might feel the intranet is more present, fully integrated with all the other apps they use to live their lives.

An alternative, or supplement if you like, to strict security around the app availability, could be to restrict the supply of content in the mobile intranet. In this way, you can ensure highly confidential content is not accessible from the mobile intranet.

Its about finding that elusive balance between user friendliness and security, and, of course, remain in line with company policies.

The original article was published here

SharePoint page editing – Improving the experience for content publishers

SharePoint 2013 does not provide a great experience for content publishers out-of-the-box.

This is something that we need to address in nearly every intranet project we deliver.

There are two main approaches that can be taken:

  1. Add some custom editing elements that simplify the experience, but are hyper-focused on a few key editing tasks.
  2. Use a third party add-in to provide a better user experience across a broader set of features and content types.


Custom editing elements

Content publishers can click an onscreen element like this one.

The editor can then add information to the page by filling in a simple form.
This avoids any of the out-of-the-box SharePoint interfaces which can be confusing and overwhelming.

We have provided a demo video that shows an example page content editing task. See video below:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Drastically improves the experience for content publishers
  • Reduces or completely removes the need for training
  • No on-going licence fees
  • Restricted to a small number of important areas (otherwise costs can quickly add up)
  • Requires additional budget to maintain and enhance these features over time


Third party add-ins


There are many options when it comes to third party add ins for SharePoint.

Some are aimed at enhancing every aspect of SharePoint like Wizdom intranet-in-a-box.

Others are aimed at enhancing things like page editing and design. A good example of this type of product is ShortPoint.

Products like these still require some training for content editors, but offer an improved experience and greater flexibility when maintaining intranet content.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Improves the experience for content publishers
  • Reduces the need for training
  • Has a wide ranging set of features (depending on the product)
  • On-going licence fees (often fairly significant ones)
  • You may be paying for features you dont need
  • Requires support from the product vendor or consultancy



Improving SharePoints content editing interfaces is not easy and comes at a cost regardless if you take the custom or prebuilt route.

Therefore, it is important to identify and prioritise the areas where you want to give a lot of control to content editors. Typically more options for ways and styles of publishing = greater cost.

By limiting the control given to content owners and making things as template driven as possible, you can keep costs more reasonable.

A positive side effect of a template driven approach is often a cleaner, more simplified experience for your intranets end users.

More recently, a significant way to improve the user and editor experience for SharePoint is to move to SharePoint Online as part of Office 365. SharePoint Online has a completely refreshed interface which makes things a lot easier for editors.

What’s the role of AI in the digital workplace now and in the future?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has received a lot of attention in the media and now seems to be a feature in many digital products. This focus (and hype) has meant that many organisations, support functions, lines of business and teams are actively considering how to use AI and what their corresponding strategy should be. Of course, intranet and digital workplace teams will want to think about how they are going to use AI.

In some respects, the hype and noise about AI is a distraction, and can even be off-putting. However, once you take away the exaggerated claims, unpack the term a little and look to its genuine potential, we can see that AI will be making a real difference in the digital workplace in the very near future.

Unpacking AI

Its worth considering what AI actually means. You can take your pick from various definitions such as quite specific academic meanings; however when most of us use the term AI we think of computers, machines or robots carrying out actions that  mimic human intelligence, for example when they can learn to be more effective at solving problems, deliver insights or understand the more subtle nuances of human language.

This means that AI isnt actually one specific technology; its actually an umbrella term which could be applied to anything from natural language processing to machine learning to autonomous vehicles to even just some very smart algorithms.

Its also worth remembering that what we regard as AI today might not be regarded as AI tomorrow. For example, we might regard the improved ability of dictation software to automatically capture what we say as text as an example of artificial intelligence. But we might not regard Optical Character Recognition (OCR) where scanned documents are turned into text as AI now, although perhaps we would have done so in the past.

What technologies constitute AI is therefore quite subjective and can change. It also means that every product under the sun can claim to have AI, potentially reducing AI to a marketing label akin to a term like hand-made or organic.

Where are we with AI in the digital workplace?

As a rule, AI is still not that advanced in the everyday digital workplace. There are a few organisations who may be considering their approach and strategy to AI, but in reality, AI tends to be apparent in separate use cases or as a feature of different products.  As far as I am aware, there is nobody who can say AI is a constant and convincing thread through the standard digital workplace accessed by most employees.

Also, while there is something which still sounds quite futuristic about AI, actually most of the active use cases for it in the digital workplace are generally every day needs which we all face. For example, AI might provide suggestions for content youre interested in, help you to tag articles, provide suggestions for responses in online conversations or to anticipate the tasks you need to complete.

In particular, lets look at five areas where AI is having an impact on the digital workplace now and in the future.

1. Understanding and responding with natural language

Understanding, interpreting and responding to our natural speech is one of the most exciting areas of AI. Many of us have experienced the power of conversations with Siri or Alexa in the consumer world; thats rapidly coming to the digital workplace through chatbots that can help employees answer questions, find items, complete transactions and semi-automate processes.

For example, here at Content Formula weve worked with Microsofts language understanding service (LUIS) in helping to implement a chatbot at accountancy firm Haines Watts. The bot can be trained to understand more and more and learns as more employees converse with it.

While its still early days for workplace bots, their ability to understand and converse with us naturally will get more sophisticated quite rapidly. Anybody whos watched the jaw-dropping Google Demo of an AI assistant booking a hairdressing appointment over the phone, can see where we could be heading.

Digital workplace virtual assistants that help us with the more routine tasks may well become commonplace. There is also likely to be more voice activation involved, for example some companies are experimenting with an Alexa in meeting rooms to take requests.

2. Making sense out of data

AI in the digital workplace has a major role in trying to make sense of a lot of potentially disparate data from different systems. This has the power to give us insights into things we didnt know or didnt notice such as patterns in user behaviour or how to optimise the workplace to support better productivity.

Where the fields of data analytics and AI start and finish is difficult to ascertain, but this is an area where we are bound to see more growth as the analytical engines of different products become sharper and use machine learning to recognise patterns which we can act upon.

One element of the digital workplace where AI is likely to have an impact is the Internet of Things with more connected devices and sensors around the building providing data which can be turned into insights into workplace behaviour and design.

3. Extracting meaning from content

Another way AI is helping to make sense out of data is extracting meaning from content. Using natural language processing and machine learning means that more effective sentiment or text analysis can be applied to individual pages or even whole document libraries.

This is already a core feature of some products, but improved capabilities have a whole range of potential uses. These include improving search and findability, automatically tagging content, suggesting relationships between documents and items based on meaning, supportinga barometer of employee sentiment, identifying common issues coming from customers and many more besides.

There are also other highly targeted uses ranging from building model documents such as contracts, identifying fraud, producing automated synopses, spotting reputational risks and more.

4. Anticipating what you need

In the consumer world we are very used to powerful suggestion engines on Netflix or Amazon which seem to know exactly what our tastes are when viewing or buying suggestions. Powerful AI and a massive dataset have made these suggestions for our tastes remarkably accurate.

Suggested content or actions is a common feature on many digital workplace products and channels; from related items on an intranet page to Workplace by Facebook offering suggestions for groups to follow to Delve presenting the information youre likely to be interested in.

AI has the power to make these suggestion engines more powerful, anticipating what we need every day as we carry out different processes in the digital workplace. For example, the Wizdom intranet uses AI to suggest tags for content. saving time and effort for content owners. Imagine, this taken further with AI, suggesting everything we need to attend to, view and worry about at the start of the working day.

5. Learning to do things better

All of the above elements of AI assume some machine learning, so that processes improve, building on the cumulative data, inputs and preferences. AI in the digital workplace can only get better.

What about the future?

In this article weve tried to look at AI in the digital workplace today and what it might being in the near future. Of course, in the more distant future, the possibilities are endless. Personalised workplace robots? Maybe!  Some kind of weird-augmented-reality-thing that seems to read your mind? Who knows!

By its very definition AI will change, as the things that raise our eyebrows today become normalised tomorrow. But currently AI is an exciting prospect for the digital workplace which will have real world impact sooner than we think.

Wizdom version 6.33 highlights

Wizdom version 6.33 brings a whole lot of new features and improvements. This video brings us the highlights including:

  • Changes to the news web parts (Corporate news and Noticeboard) in the SharePoint Modern Experience
  • Service Desk app has been enhanced for support agents and support managers.
  • The Projects module which is now called Workspaces to reflect that the module is suitable not just for projects but for lots of other collaboration scenarios such as communities, teams, departments etc.

How to get started with Wisdom on Modern SharePoint

Wizdom has been quick to bring the new SharePoints Modern Experiences interface to its product. This video explains how to enable Modern on your intranet.

Thirteen ways to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams

The use of Microsoft Teams is growing very rapidly , with over 300,000 organisations already using the tool, but like any part of the digital workplace or any collaboration platform, you still need to work hard to drive adoption. This is particularly the case as the use of Teams in most organisations will be largely voluntary few employees are forced to use it and therefore there must be an effort to promote and support Teams. There are also many other tools which teams can use to communicate and collaborate effectively; from Slack to other tools within the Office 365 suite to the use of email.  So, adoption efforts also need to work in reference to the other options available.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a messaging and collaboration tool designed to allow teams to communicate with each other, share documents, add discussions and carry out tasks. Its an important tool within the Office 365 suite and is where Microsoft is investing much of its efforts by integrating communication capability such as Skype. Initially it was launched as a rival to Slack, but it has started to assume a greater role.

There is never one single approach which successfully drives adoption of digital workplace tools; a range of approaches works best. Here are thirteen ideas which weve seen our clients try in helping to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams.

1. Work out what adoption means to you

Before you can drive adoption of Microsoft Teams you need to work out what successful adoption looks like for you. Working out what you want to achieve for your business, and then defining the kind of adoption and usage patterns that will help you achieve those goals, will help you to focus on the right adoption tactics for Teams.

For example, you may wish to specifically drive better project management in your organisation, and therefore successful adoption might be a greater number of project teams working with Teams. Or you may have a more general goal to make communication more efficient across functions spread across different locations, and therefore your aim may just to drive the number of users in this group.  Having the right focus for adoption and knowing what success looks like will help you achieve your aims.

2. Use targeted communications

Traditional change management efforts are very likely to be part of your drive for adoption. As with any efforts, the more targeted the messages to different groups, the better. For example, communications should be framed in the perspective of the needs of specific groups.  Your messaging may also need to explore the bigger picture; communications need to explain the what and the how, but also why employees should use Teams, to win hearts and minds.

3. Give support resources

While communications help to drive awareness and buy-in, and usually give some advice on how to get started, support resources need to help users once they start using Teams. A dedicated area on your intranet, with some self-service resources such as FAQs, short instructional videos and even a support community where questions can be asked to super-users, provides an excellent backbone for driving sustainable adoption.

4. Get the right team behind Teams

Driving adoption for any tool is usually a sustained effort and you need the right team behind it. Factors to consider are whether people have the right skills and know-how to drive adoption, whether they have time and whether they have the right commitment. Its also worth thinking about who owns Teams and which departments are involved. For example, its not uncommon for IT functions to drive the usage of collaboration tools, but in our experience, they are not always the best equipped to lead what is a business change rather than a technological one.

5. Use peer-to -peer recommendation

Using peer recommendation through a formal network of local champions is often a successful tactic used by intranet and digital workplace teams to help drive the adoption of different tools. Like other parts of the digital workplace, local champions recommending the use of Teams can really help support usage.

Usually recommendations from peers may be taken more seriously from users, and come framed in the specific needs and of  local teams, as well as potentially in their native language. To support a successful champions network, however, you need to get the right people on board, and engage your champions through recognition and engagement efforts.

6. Use Teams for specific use cases

People get Teams far more easily when they can see specific uses for it. If you can use Teams for tangible use cases with obvious successful outcomes, then adoption becomes a much easier sell. Work out the use cases which are going to resonate with your organisation such as using Teams to:

  • co-ordinate activities within a department
  • help those working on a project
  • streamline activities for those working on a client account
  • drive communications which are too local to place on the intranet.

If you have very specific ways of working, its also possible to customise Teams see point number 10.

7. Get managers to experiences using it

Getting buy-in from managers is essential to encourage their team members to use Teams. A great way to achieve this is try and get managers to experience Teams early on. If there are use cases where your managers collaborate with each other, consider setting up Teams spaces for them so they are part of the set of early adopters and can get to know its possibilities and potential uses within their own functions.

8. Make it available and remove barriers

A key adoption approach for any part of the digital workplace is to remove any associated barriers for usage. Users wont use something which is too difficult to use or reach. With Teams, there are some baseline approaches that really help drive adoption, including:

  • Using Single Sign-On so users dont have to authenticate once on the network
  • Ensuring performance and load times are fast enough
  • Allowing access from mobile devices by encouraging use of the Teams app
  • Using the desktop app, if relevant for your organisation
  • Ensuring its easy to find Team spaces, for example via the intranet or via Office 365 (see below).

9. Integrate Teams into your intranet

Increasingly intranets are evolving into digital workplaces; acting as the front door to the wider portfolio of applications used across the enterprise as well as integrating with other applications. If you have a SharePoint Online intranet product like Wizdom you can integrate Teams into your intranet so that employees can find the spaces they need and keep on top of updates, all in their daily flow of work.

For example, to help drive adoption, we integrated Teams into Mulberrys intranet so that employees can reach the spaces they are assigned to via a landing page.   There may also be opportunities to add updates from Teams as web parts on different pages.

10. Configure or customise Teams to your way of working

Because Teams is part of the wider Office 365 suite and because there are also a range of apps which you can integrate into the tool its possible to configure and even customise Teams so it delivers more value. For example, if you have very specific use cases and ways of doing things, some customisation can be enormously powerful. For example, we have worked with clients to build workflows, create templates and even introduced knowledge management features and processes to make Teams even more business-relevant, helping to drive adoption. We recently ran a webinar about customising Team to your way of working.

11. Make sure there are notifications

Notifications for users are an essential way to help drive adoption of Teams. Were all for reducing the amount of email in the world, but the truth is that many employees still rely on email for their updates. If this is the case, enabling email notifications for Teams may prove to be important for driving usage.

12. Put some process and governance around it

Generally, Teams doesnt necessarily have to have significant governance around how it is used, but putting in just the right amount of process and rules can really help to support adoption efforts. For example, some form of site provisioning process can help ensure that each Teams space has a dedicated owner and manager who will help to drive adoption.  (Site provisioning for Teams is possible using the Wizdom intranet product, and separately weve worked with clients to even create provisioning for different templated Teams spaces.) It can also help to keep the number of sites down, aiding findability.

13. Give it time

Getting users to adopt new tools doesnt happen overnight. People are busy and there are always going to be laggards and sceptics who are highly unlikely to use it. However, the majority of users will come around and use Teams if you are realistic and give your adoption efforts sufficient time to really embed use of the tool within your organisation.

We love Teams!

At Content Formula we love teams and were confident your users will too. Use some of the approaches and ideas in this post to help drive adoption and get everybody communicating and collaborating. And if you need any advice on how your organisation can use Teams effectively, then get in touch.

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