Skype for Business Online retires in July 2021: seven tips for your upgrade to MS Teams

In the Summer of 2019 Microsoft announced the retirement of Skype for Business Online giving organisations two years to upgrade to Microsoft Teams by 31st July 2021 at the very latest when the service was being switched off. Meanwhile new Office 365 customers go directly onto MS Teams.

The forced switch to Teams is not a huge surprise. MS Teams has been a huge success for Microsoft and in our experiences most users (once they get used to it) seem favourable and adoption levels are good. Microsoft continue to expand and add to MS Teams and it seems like it will be at the centre of many digital workplaces for the next few years.

While Skype for Business formerly Lync has been a mainstay of Microsofts enterprise software for a while, and has been a critical tool in the digital workplace landscape driving instant messaging, video calls and voice calls, it makes sense for these capabilities to sit alongside the enhanced collaboration features of Teams.

Six months have passed since the announcement. The clock is still very much ticking, and you now have almost exactly eighteen months to get over to Teams, and obviously less if youre reading this after January 2020.

If you havent migrated yet we would recommend you start planning it now, particularly if you are a large or complex organisation with many users. The good news is that when you have upgraded, Teams can prove to be an excellent product to drive collaboration and communication across your organisation. But an implementation (and therefore a switch over from Skype for Business) does come with some challenges. In this article well look at some tips and approaches you need to consider in order to prepare for the big switch.

1. Dont leave it to the last minute

If youre reading this in January 2020 then you have eighteen months, but in terms of IT planning thats not actually that long for a major change like the upgrade to Teams. And every day that period is getting less and less. Larger organisations may need to go for some kind of phased approach due to resourcing to roll-out Teams. Dont leave the switch to the day before Microsoft turn off Skype for Business for good.

2. Get familiar with Microsofts upgrade framework

Microsoft have created a detailed upgrade framework that takes organisations through the multiple steps to retire Skype For Business and introduce Teams. From Get started through to Implement your upgrade and Operate, adopt and optimize the framework covers the technical, strategic and change management steps required. It also provides plenty of resources and a downloadable toolkit including templates covering project plans, testing and preparing users for the change. Do make sure you are familiar with the upgrade framework before planning your upgrade project.

3. Be wary of a long transition period

In most large organisations we know the roll-out of Microsoft Teams has been phased. This is mainly due to logistics, but it can also be down to more than one licensing agreement being in place (particularly where companies have been acquired and are still on different Microsoft plans). In a long transition period this can bring some confusion for users as to what tool to use to communicate with others. The Microsoft upgrade framework has steps in place to allow the outgoing Skype for Business and incoming Teams to overlap but with two options everybody has the option to use one or the other or select bits of capability are available in one tool and not the other. In terms of a smooth change, while a transition period will be necessary, one that is too long may cause issues.

4. Have a strategy for Teams

MS Teams is a potentially pivotal technology for the digital workplace that is the linchpin for team collaboration and communication. Its not something you just roll out without thought you need to have a properly scoped out strategy that will help to define, among other things:

  • ownership and responsibilities
  • any technical aspects and issues
  • purpose and objectives
  • usage
  • user support
  • the relationship with other applications that have an overlap in functionality
  • configuration Teams can be configured with lots of integrations, feeds and more (for example a Wizdom intranet can be viewed through Teams)
  • site lifecycle (provisioning through to archive)
  • change management
  • And more!

A strategy also needs to be cross-functional with input from both IT, support functions and the business. In our view launching Teams is big its not a typical IT implementation.

5. Get your change management ducks in a row

Microsoft are right when they say Upgrading from Skype for Business to Teams is more than a technical migration. It represents a transformation in how users communicate and collaborate, and change is not always easy.

MS Teams is a complex environment that can be confusing even for more confident users. You absolutely need to invest in a change management approach that both addresses the specifics about moving over from Skype for Business but also the new possibilities with Teams. Using a Champions Network for peer to peer support and communications is a good option here, perhaps also addressing other digital workplace options to put Teams into full context.

6. Set up Teams site provisioning from the get-go

Because employees use Teams for chat and calls it means that on the surface the adoption of the tool is not necessarily an issue. Weve also found that the setting up of Teams spaces can take off surprisingly quickly. Initially you may be delighted with this, but its amazing how quickly the environment can spin out of control with duplicate Teams spaces, unused spaces, high risk uses and badly named spaces that are impossible to find.

Rather than wait a year and then have a clean-up exercise, it can be worth putting in a simple site provisioning process with approval workflow to keep the environment tidy and on-point. Wizdom, for example, has a great provisioning tool that also allows you to configure different templates for Teams.

7. Speak to others or get external advice

If youre planning your switch over its always worth speaking to your peers from other organisations to hear about their experiences. Hearing those tips and tricks and little pitfalls to avoid can be gold dust. If youre looking for more support, there is always the option of getting external advice that covers technical and strategic aspects. Do get in touch with us if youd like advice on switching over from Skype for Business or if youre rolling out Teams.

Start your planning now!

Organisation and your users will benefit hugely from the upgrade to Teams, but you need the right strategy in place and adequate planning. If you havent started your planning for the switch, you should do so now. This is a significant change act now.

Why you should consider creating a SharePoint extranet

For most of us in the digital workplace and intranet space, Office 365 is a predominantly a platform that drives amazing possibilities to improve the digital employee experience. However, it can also be an excellent base technology to craft experiences for external audiences too. Extranets are nothing new theyve been around since the mid-nineties. However, increasingly were seeing our customers interested in the possibilities of leveraging Office 365 and its constituent tools to build extranets that improve business processes and interaction involving external parties beyond the firewall. In this post were going to look at some of the key use cases for an extranet.

What is an extranet?

There are various different definitions of an extranet but for our purposes lets regard an extranet as a restricted online environment provided by an organisation where external individuals and parties must authenticate in to see privileged information or content or to carry out related transactions.

Generally, the advantages of an extranet are:

  • Improved processes, usually more efficient than email
  • The ability to build automation between internal and external-facing processes and interactions
  • The ability to drive closer relationships with external parties
  • Better communication with everyone able to see the same data and content
  • More efficient distribution of information to multiple parties
  • More efficient collection of information from multiple parties


Get in touch to discuss your project


Why are we seeing more focus on extranets?

Recently weve started to see more and more focus on extranets. This seems to be happening for various different reasons.

Firstly, the rapid advance of Teams is spotlighting the easier capability to collaborate with external parties using Office 365 tools. This is making people ask what other kinds of extranet facilities could help them communicate with others and improve business processes.

Secondly, more and more organisations have implemented an Office 365 digital workplace that is now working well for them with decent levels of adoption. A natural question for these organisations is what is the next for my digital workplace? An evolution involving an extranet which extends the digital workplace outwards is just one potential next stage of digital workplace maturity, along with elements such as more automation, for example.

An example of this is the work we carried out for Moving Made Easy where we built a comprehensive digital workplace around the core internal business process of selling a property; at some stage the management may well extend access to customers so they can directly track the progress of the sale.

Sharepoint extranet example

Thirdly, we see the notion of what is internal and external to a company continuing to blur. For example, there are more freelancers around who arent employees but are working for a company. Similarly, start-up and innovation culture and agile methodologies are continuing to drive some interesting collaborations on specific projects that involve multiple organisation where interactions are facilitated by digital tools. Extranets are the way to go here.

Lastly, the blur between the internal and external digital workplace has always been there, as customers and suppliers are brought more and more into core processes driven by automation. For example, some employees may spend more time interacting directly with suppliers than colleagues. Again, this interaction may be facilitated by an extranet.

What are the use cases?

There are various different use cases for an extranet. Here are a few of the key ones.

1Project Collaboration

Extranets that facilitate project collaboration is already a common use case. We already see significant levels of project collaboration that may involve MS Teams or Team Sites, where project team members from multiple organisations can access documents, discussions, calendars and task management capabilities.

2Onboarding and alumni platforms

Recently there has been more emphasis on the value of the digital employee experience right through the employee life cycle from hire through to fire. Having a portal dedicated to employee onboarding that new hires can access even prior to their first day to access information and carry out tasks before they start can be a great way to help drive onboarding. We have seen a great example of Wizdom, an intranet in-a-box, being accessed by new hires to find out about the company they are about to join so they are better prepared for their first day at work. Similarly, alumni portals can help maintain relationships with important influencers and referrers, or even people who may come back to work for you one day.

3Training portal

Training material, courses and other learning resources may be appropriate for your customers, suppliers or contractors, particularly if you offer a technical product or service. An extranet is a great way to disseminate course and learning material for example through a Learning Management System (LMS). LMS365, an LMS that integrates with Office 365, is frequently offered externally as an extranet.

4Customer portals

Customer portals provide opportunities to both drive brand loyalty but also drive efficiencies in customer support both for B2C and B2B organisations. For example, the ability for customers to track orders, see FAQs, access documentation, interact online with customer support by raising tickets and submit accurate information about themselves can be a win for everyone involved. Traditionally customer portals are powered by information in CRM systems such as Salesforce or Dynamics. Again, an intranet product like Wizdom can also be used as a customer extranet.

5Supplier portals

A supplier extranet or portal is an excellent way to distribute and receive information from your supply chain, helping to maintain standards, streamline processes, co-ordinate activities and monitor progress. In some industries such as retail or manufacturing where the supply chain activity is critical and needs to be co-ordinated in real time, then an extranet facility can assume great operational importance.

6Procurement portals

Linked to suppliers a procurement portal can help do a lot of the heavy lifting around procurement processes, as well as keep supplier contact and relationship information up to date.

7Alliances and joint venture workspaces

In some sectors alliances between multiple parties and joint ventures can be common. A portal can help cement collaboration, improve co-ordination and allow for the central distribution of common assets and credentials.

8Brand portals

Brand portals help to distribute brand assets, design guidelines and more for large projects. As a digital agency we find access to a clients brand portal always very helpful!

9Freelancers and contractor extranet

More and more organisations are using freelancers and contractors as an extended talent pool to meet short term and project needs. A freelancer or contractor portal can help to manage work communication and collaboration, and even to be able to distribute work to the right provider. Technically this may be a supplier or procurement portal but tends to focus on individuals and perhaps shorter pieces of work. A portal might be themed around a particular task translating content for example.

Get in touch to discuss your project


Extranets in 2020

Extranets can be a great way to extend the capability of your digital workplace and improve both business processes and relationships. An Office 365 or SharePoint extranet can prove to be a highly effective platform to create an extranet, enabling collaboration, presentation of content and workflow. If youd like more advice on creating a SharePoint extranet or adding an external twist to your existing Wizdom intranet get in touch!


Introducing LMS365, a Learning Management System for SharePoint, Teams and Office 365

Content Formula is excited to announce our new partnership with ELEARNINGFORCE, the creators of LMS365, a modern, cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) based on Office 365. The partnership means we will be offering LMS365 to our clients, joining our offerings from Wizdom / LiveTiles as well as our bespoke Office 365 and SharePoint development and consultancy.

What is LMS365?

LMS365 is a mature, very well-designed SharePoint LMS that includes all the essential features of an LMS with the unique quality of being able to work seamlessly with Office 365. For any organisation building a digital workplace based on Office 365 and wanting to advance learning with an LMS, or a company simply seeking to replace a clunky LMS that feels out of the flow of daily work, then LMS365 is a compelling choice. A great product like LMS365 combined with the power of Office 365 is highly attractive.

The creators of LMS365 are ELEARNINGFORCE, a Danish company and Microsoft Gold Partner, with a close relationship with Microsoft spanning over a number of years. They are super smart people who are easy to work with, and were really looking forward to our partnership growing over the coming months.

What are the key features of LMS365?

LMS365 provides all the headline features of a mature LMS that youd expect such as SCORM compliant material, with great, intuitive interfaces both for users and admins, as well as seamless integration with your Office 365 environment.  Users can search through a course catalogue, enrol on courses (including classroom-based training), take online learning and access other resources. Meanwhile admins can auto-enrol people (super useful for compliance training) and closely monitor training and get the reporting they need. As you would expect, everyone also accesses LMS seamlessly via their Windows / Office 365 password (through Active Directory), so there are no awkward passwords to remember.

Lets look at the core features of LMS365  in more detail.

Personalised user dashboard with gamification elements

Many LMS have all the learning nuts and bolts you need but then fail on user experience. This is a strong point of LMS365 with an attractive, personalised  dashboard for users that includes gamification features (leader boards etc.), social learning elements and clear reporting of learning progress. There is also a dashboard for managers.
Strong reporting

LMS365 has flexible and detailed reporting (and analytics) to track learning progress by user, team or company, identify trends and get a real-time snapshot of usage. This is available onscreen as part of the product, but you can also create PowerBI dashboards and export some data to Excel.
Training plans

Course material can be arranged into training plans with prerequisites. In turn these training plans can be assigned to specific Microsoft Teams or Office 365 groups, leveraging the tight integration between LMS365 and Office 365.
A mobile app

There’s also a nice LMS365 mobile app so users can view learning material on the go. We particularly like how the app also provides offline access, so users can use the LMS on the commute home or in remote areas with poor connectivity, with results synchronized once back online.
Certificates and compliance-based training

Many organisations will have mandatory and compliance-based training requirements. This is fully supported by LMS365 with capabilities such as learning certificates, annual re-trainings, trackable confirmations, reminders, reporting and more.
Office 365 adoption material

Another interesting feature is that LMS365 have teamed up with content providers to supply Office 365 training material that can help drive adoption. Using an Office 365-based LMS to learn about Office 365 seems like a great idea!
Easy set-up

A real strength is the ease and speed of setting up LMS365. Because it is cloud-based and sits alongside Office 365 it really can be up and running in a day or so.
Integration with Office 365, MS Teams and beyond

The integration with Office 365 is an obvious strength of LMS365, so for example you can easily embed a display of personalized training on any SharePoint page and bring learning right into your intranet (be it a SharePoint or Wizdom intranet) to help drive adoption. There is also an attractive integration with Teams that allows learning to be delivered right into the flow of work. Here you can share course material in channels, use a special LMS365 bot to find individual training plans and courses, embed dashboards and more. There is also a modern API that means integration with other non-Office 365 systems such as your HR or ERP system is relatively straightforward.

SharePoint Office 365 Teams LMS LMS365

Key benefits

We believe all of the above adds up to a compelling learning proposition for any organisation, particularly for those companies on an Office 365 journey. Its why we’ve chosen to work with ELEARNINGFORCE.

The business benefits from any LMS include:

More knowledgeable workforce better equipped to carry out their role

Helps new starters get up to speed more quickly

Easy management of compliance-based training

More engaged workforce.

The benefits for an LMS like LMS365 include:

High adoption and easy access to learning material: An LMS that is in the daily flow of work and a core component of your digital workplace, accessible via AAD and easily integrated or reached from core Office 365 tools including a SharePoint Online intranet and MS Teams.

A highly versatile platform to suit all learning needs and styles: An LMS that handles online learning but also classroom based training, as well as different content types.

A mature, stable product with deep capabilities: A reliable platform with the elements you need such as good analytics and reporting, certification and more.

True learning for a mobile and frontline workforce: Anytime access in the cloud and a strong mobile app.

Strong user experience: Attractive and intuitive design, not always a given in an LMS

Strong admin experience: Very easy set-up and configuration plus some powerful tools to easily create courses and modules

Easy deployment: Quick and easy to launch.

Interested? Get in touch!

We’ve already had several clients very interested in what LMS365 has to offer and were excited about its potential too. If you’d like to discuss and see how LMS365 might be able to help you then get in touch to arrange a demo.

Find out more about LMS365...

Request a call back with one of our experts, for a free consultation about how LMS365 can benefit your business.

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Ten intranet trends for 2020

The new year is always a good time to take stock and think about the bigger picture. Its also when intranet managers and their teams may be planning the months ahead, working out their specific objectives and prioritising activities.

For any planning process a useful reference point are the deeper trends seen across the world of intranets and digital workplaces.  Factors such as the software market, AI and the Office 365 roadmap (for SharePoint Online intranets) can present both opportunities and challenges for intranet teams, and its always good to anticipate the trends that will be occurring over the next year or so.

We often get asked by clients planning a new intranet what will happen in the market in the short, medium and long-term future. While its always impossible to be completely certain about whats going to happen, there are some intranet trends that are happening now that we can expect to become more prevalent in 2020.

So, to help planning here is our view of ten of the intranet trends we can except to see in 2020.

1. Intranets continue to be strategically important

Sometimes intranets get a bad press and are not regarded as particularly valuable, but the fact is that after 20 years intranets are still very much part of the enterprise digital landscape. One of the reasons they have survived so long is because intranets adapt and evolve to the needs of organisations and employees, absorbing new capabilities, and taking influence by developments on the web. Currently SharePoint Online intranets (and intranets in general) are starting to absorb more automation and can even be accessed through other applications like Microsoft Teams. Intranets continue to drive efficiency and engagement, and organisations continue to choose to invest in them.

2. AI becomes normalised on the intranet

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been the subject of feverish and prolonged media attention, but were now starting to see AI creeping into everyday work processes and appearing as a useful feature of the intranet, particularly through chatbots. For example, within the suite of WIzdom and LiveTiles products AI is being used to remind employees to complete their people profiles and making tagging suggestions for content owners. Chatbots also help employees to find things and drive employee self-service, relieving some of the pressure on IT and HR helpdesks. During 2020 we can expect to see AI increasingly normalised on the intranet in ways that are actually useful.

3. Intranets outgrow the homepage

For a long time, the intranet has been the key destination and the starting point for navigating around content, services and increasingly apps. However, employees dont spend their working day in the intranet, they work within applications like Microsoft Teams and Salesforce. Therefore, when an employee goes to the intranet homepage, it is quite possible it breaks the flow of their natural work. Increasingly we see employees wanting less and less fragmentation across the digital workplace and wanting to access intranet content and features from wherever they are.

In 2020 we believe well start to see more and more intranet content being accessible from within applications, bypassing the homepage altogether. In intranet products like Wizdom this is already possible with elements such as the Power Panel and Wizdom for Teams, presenting a genuinely new paradigm for intranet design.

4. SharePoint intranets become intertwined with Office 365

One of the directions of travel for Office 365 has been the easier and more consistent integration of the different tools and services within it, including SharePoint Online. This means it is becoming easier and easier to add web parts that reflect content from Yammer, Teams or elsewhere into a SharePoint Online intranet, as well as take advantage of the Microsoft Power Platform capabilities around workflow and automation. In 2020 we believe SharePoint Online intranets well become ever intertwined with Office 365, helping leverage the investment in Office 365 and usefully surfacing the range of tools for employees.

5. An intranet has a digital employee experience mandate

Digital employee experience (DEX) has been a term that has grown in use over the past year, referring to a more holistic and strategic view of how digital channels can enhance the overall employee experience at all stages through the employee lifecycle. Just as customer experience is understood by stakeholders, the term employee experience similarly resonates, particularly with HR functions.

Armed with a mandate to drive a better digital employee experience, intranets are being considered more as part of a whole ecosystem that contributes to moments that matter for employees such as onboarding, internal promotion, and more, as well as driving everyday efficiency and engagement.

6. Microsoft investment continues to stimulate options

Over the past two years Microsoft has continued to introduce features that support an enterprise intranet experience straight out of the box using modern SharePoint, for example extending capabilities around content targeting and navigation. This year they also announced the creation of home sites to bring something starting to resemble an enterprise intranet homepage. In 2020 we believe Microsofts investment will continue to add more options for intranet teams while also driving innovation within in a box products like Wizdom. Essentially this means teams have more options and SharePoint intranets get better!

7. Knowledge management comes back into focus

In late 2019 Microsoft announced an intriguing new service currently in development as Project Cortex This uses AI to organise content into different topics such as projects, products and processes, and also assemble related knowledge networks based on information from the Microsoft Graph. This effectively brings automation to Knowledge Management (KM), with the intranet an obvious place for output such as related learning content or even curated knowledge centres. We think as Project Cortex starts to be revealed, it will bring KM sharply back into focus with the intranet as a key delivery channel. KM has never really gone away, but it may now get some of the attention it deserves.

8. Personalisation becomes the key to intranet success

Intranets keep on improving but many of their more sophisticated capabilities such as content subscriptions and targeting, ability to view relevant apps, links and sites, and the intelligent elements such as AI require some level of personalisation.

Personalisation allows individual employees to fully leverage the power of intranets as a relevant experience that helps them with their working day and is centred around their needs. A frontline employee based in South Africa and back office employee in France have completely different information and communication needs. Through 2020 we expect to see personalisation continue to become increasingly important for intranet success.

9. Persistent toolbars become productivity engines

A common design feature of intranets has been persistent toolbars that follow users from page to page. Partly designed to reduce clutter on the homepage, increasingly these allow employees to view personalised sets of links and apps, sites you a member of, aggregated notifications and more.

These toolbars are often designed to help employees get things done and find what they need, driving efficiency and replacing email. In Wizdom, for example, the

10. Intranets support the democratisation of automation

Weve long admired the way Microsoft has designed systems like PowerApps and Power Automate (previously Flow) to be able to be configured by power users rather than non-developers, effectively democratising automation and allowing departments to drive their own process efficiencies without wholly relying on IT functions. The easier integration of the Power Platform apps into SharePoint Online, the general use of workflow and forms on intranets and even the increase in the use of bots means that we see intranets continuing to support the non-IT creation of automaton and workflows.  This will make intranets even more business relevant through 2020.

Stay with us through 2020

We hope youve found our run down of the themes for 2020 useful. For more insights, continue to check our blog and watch out for details of webinars and presentations through the coming year. If youd like to discuss any of the themes or you need help planning out your intranet or digital workplace strategy for 2020 then get in touch!

Our favourite digital workplace and intranet blog posts from 2019

2019 was another very busy and successful year for Content Formula, and were already excited about what 2020 has to offer. Through 2019 on this blog we published multiple posts on the digital workplace, intranets, SharePoint, Office 365, Wizdom, Microsoft Teams automation and more. We hope you found them useful in helping you think about your approach to your own digital workplace or intranet and the opportunities there are to drive business benefits.

In case you missed some of the articles, heres a round-up of some of our favourite and most popular articles of 2019.

  1. January

    Thirteen ways to drive the adoption of Microsoft TeamsThirteen ways to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams

    The rapid growth of Microsoft Teams has been notable, with many organisations launching it as the cornerstone of departmental, project and team collaboration. In this comprehensive post we look at some of the ways that digital workplace teams can help drive adoption of the MS Teams; it covers everything from using peer-to-peer recommendations to integrating MS Teams into your intranet to making  sure there is proper governance in place. The article is a good starting point to get you thinking about your MS Teams adoption strategy.

  2. February

    Webinar video Driving business productivity with PowerApps, Micosoft Teams and SharePoint

    Office 365 and MS Teams provides exciting opportunities to drive business productivity and raise efficiency with tangible business benefits. The potential integrations between PowerApps, Teams and SharePoint bringing workflow, collaboration and content together are exciting in themselves, but you can even start to bring other non-Microsoft apps into the equation. In this highly practical webinar Dan Hawtrey, John Scott and Joe Perry look at the art of the possible, particularly relating to adding apps to MS Teams , and making it a window into your wider digital workplace.

  3. March

    How intranet and digital workplace governance is hard-baked into WizdomHow intranet and digital workplace governance is hard-baked into Wizdom

    Weve seen the importance of governance in virtually all intranet and digital workplace projects weve been involved in. You need the right policies, processes and rules to make everything work properly and keep your digital workplace under control, ultimately benefitting your users. In this post we look at how Wizdoms intranet supports four different flavours of governance including strategic, technical, collaboration and content governance, ensuring the product works with your digital workplace strategy rather than against it.

  4. April

    What is the Microsoft Graph and how can it help you?What is the Microsoft Graph and how can it help you?

    The Office 365 universe of tools, services and applications continues to expand and evolve at a remarkable rate. To help our customers keep up to date Joe Perry has produced a series of informative and non-technical articles that give the low-down on different corners of Office 365 and the opportunities that they present. In April, Joe gave us a deep dive into the Microsoft Graph, covering why its exciting and how it can help create apps, improve personalised searching and enhance the Office 365 experience. Its everything you wanted to know about Microsoft Graph but were afraid to ask!

  5. May

    16 ways you can integrate Office 365 functionality into your intranet16 ways you can integrate Office 365 functionality into your intranet

    Here at Content Formula we love intranets and Office 365. We see intranets very much as a key component of the digital workplace, with a SharePoint Online intranet an opportunity to leverage and expose Office 365 functionality in order to improve business processes, increase usability and drive adoption of tools. This article is a powerful list of sixteen specific use cases where intranets can integrate Office 365 tools; it includes everything from using Yammer as your intranet commenting engine to using chatbots to provide a personal concierge service! Its a great starting point to consider improvements that will increase the value of your intranet and demonstrate ROI on your Office 365 investment.

  6. June

    Webinar video: The future of Office 365 and SharePoint intranetsWebinar video: The future of Office 365 and SharePoint intranets

    To say the Office 365 and SharePoint intranets space is fast moving is an understatement. Microsoft continue to invest in tools that impact intranets while the in-a-box market is still buoyant, with   products like Wizdom adding new game-changing features. In this webinar Dan Hawtrey and Joe Perry partnered up with leading Office 365 and intranet authority Sam Marshall from ClearBox to round-up all the latest developments and announcement. They also consider the kind of questions that ClearBox and Content Formula customer are asking, including whether you should buy or build your intranet.

  7. July

    Should smaller companies choose SharePoint Modern out of the box or Wizdom for their intranet?Should smaller companies choose SharePoint Modern out of the box or Wizdom for their intranet?

    Microsofts investment in intranet-ready features for SharePoint Online means that for smaller companies a SharePoint modern intranet solely based on out-of-the-box features is increasingly becoming a viable option. In this post we explore the advantages and disadvantages of using SharePoint Online straight out of the box or using an in-a-box product like Wizdom. We also cover why larger companies with more complex needs may find they need to rely on a product or customisation to get the intranet that works best for them.

  8. August

    What is PowerApps and how can  I use it?What is PowerApps and how can  I use it?

    OK, this actually came out in late July, but its a great article and we wanted to mention it again! Here Joe Perry writes another of his articles that demystifies the Office 365 suite, this time focusing on PowerApps. He covers its features, the way it works and popular use cases; he also glances into the future and look at the powerful capabilities that are on the immediate product roadmap.

  9. September

    Webinar video: Modernise your intranet with an intelligent people directoryWebinar video: Modernise your intranet with an intelligent people directory

    When LiveTiles acquired Wizdom it introduced new opportunities for Content Formula to introduce great new tools to our clients. One of these is an AI-powered people directory bot that helps to automate the population of Office 365 profiles, an area that is traditionally challenging for digital workplace teams. The bot (previously branded as Hyperfish) is the star of this webinar video led by John Scott and Alex Lustig; the webinar explores how the tool can help you and provides a detailed product demo. If you find people profile completion a headache, watch this!

  10. October

    Fifteen essential elements that should be on your intranet governance checklistFifteen essential elements that should be on your intranet governance checklist

    Were strong believers in governance essentially these are the elements that can stop your intranet from failing.  If you dont have governance on your intranet content can grow stale, findability suffers and trust erodes. In this article we updated our popular governance checklist to cover the fifteen essential elements that should be of your governance framework. Its a handy list for anybody planning a governance framework or trying to fill in the gaps; we also explore the thinking behind it, looking at the reasons why intranets fail.

  11. November

    Ten reasons why a SharePoint or SharePoint Online intranet is your best intranet optionTen reasons why a SharePoint or SharePoint Online intranet is your best intranet option

    SharePoint still provokes a strong reaction in some people, not always positive. Bu if youre coming back to SharePoint or SharePoint Online and youre considering building an intranet, its pretty much a no-brainer. SharePoint or SharePoint Online is easily your best option for an intranet and this article explores why we believe this is the case. In our view, nothing really matches SharePoints flexibility to be both a content platform and digital workplace, support of different use cases,  opportunities to integrate with Office 365 and more. If youre reviewing platforms or want to make a robust business case for a SharePoint intranet then this is useful reading.

  12. December

    Wizdom Intelligent Intranet by LiveTiles leads the way in the ClearBox SharePoint Intranet 2020 reportWizdom Intelligent Intranet by LiveTiles leads the way in the ClearBox SharePoint Intranet 2020 report

    The leading (and only) guide to SharePoint intranet in-a-box products is published by ClearBox in the UK. Each year it covers the strengths and weaknesses of the vast array of SharePoint intranet products including Wizdom by LiveTiles; its a must-read for anybody wanting to make an informed decision about acquiring intranet software. We were very pleased to see that Wizdom had received a great product review in the latest ClearBox report. This interesting article explores what ClearBox said about the platform.

Keep on reading

Through 2020 were going to be keeping on publishing articles and posts on intranets, digital workplaces and Office 365. We hope you find them useful and keep on reading. Happy new year!

Webinar video: How to bring your intranet into MS Teams

Creating the ONE corporate dashboard in MS Teams to navigate the digital workplace

Simplicity is a basic principle in UX, which is why weve created the one corporate dashboard in MS Teams, that enables you to navigate your digital workplace with ease. Application overload is becoming more prevalent within todays digital landscape. Keeping ahead of the curve is becoming increasingly difficult. By having one dashboard where you access all your applications, we are alleviating major company pains in the area of application overload.

A recent study showed that:

  • The average worker flips between apps as frequently as 10 times per hour.
  • Among 2,000 workers from the US, UK, and Australia 69% reported wasting as much as 32 days a year navigating between apps.

As a hub for teamwork in Office 365, MS Teams is Microsofts solution for bringing the stack of productivity tools together to users in a single application. What we do is help bring your intranet into MS Teams.

In this webinar we showed how you can set up MS Teams to support this goal.

Learn how to:

  • Prevent employees from working in silos in individual teams within MS Teams.
  • Reach employees with corporate news and messaging in the MS Teams application.
  • Give users the possibility to handle work tasks requested by third party line-of-business applications inside of the MS Teams application.
  • Bring together notifications from different applications and present them intelligently to users in MS Teams.
  • Help users intuitively create content, news, and workspaces that comply to company standards.

How LiveTiless AI-driven Office 365 profile solution adds value to your intranet

The LiveTiles acquisition of Wizdom extended the range of digital workplace applications available for Wizdom customers. One of the most exciting of these is an AI-driven tool (formerly known as Hyperfish) that encourages users to populate Active Directory (AD) and employee profile data. This is also available for separate purchase so all intranet managers can benefit. Having complete and accurate employee profile data is a must have for a great digital workplace but has traditionally been a challenge, and this solution is designed to help.

In a nutshell the product works by searching through your AD data, identifying the gaps and then messaging each individual employee with what they need to do to complete it. It effectively crowdsources your AD data through a chatbot, an easy interface nd a little gentle gamification with percentage bars showing levels of completion. Meanwhile administrators have control over what information is needed, can set approvals and can report in detail on progress.  These nudges can prove highly effective with some clients reporting up to a 300% improvement in terms of profile completion within days of implementation.

If youre an intranet manager any tool that improves Office 365 profile completion can really improve your intranet in several different ways, some of which are explored below.

1. It powers your employee directory and people search

One main reason employee come to intranets is to access employee directory information and search for people. Connecting with colleagues, finding contact information and collaboration is at the heart of the many organisational process so you really want the intranet to deliver a great employee directory and strong findability around people.

However, unfortunately most employee directories come riddled with gaps in some cases the directory is complete broken!  There tends to be more gaps in the data where you are relying on employees to supply the information; this can include staff photos, some contact details, skills information and more. System-generated information from your HR system that is replicated in AD tends to be more complete.

By using AI to crowdsource this data you can effectively power an essential intranet staple and deliver a superior directory and people search that will be heavily used by employees.  In turn other benefits such as stronger collaboration, greater efficiency and better intranet adoption should flow.

2. It provides essential information for better content targeting

Modern intranets have strong personalisation and content targeting features to ensure that content is relevant for every single individual employee. This is particularly true of larger or complex organisations with multiple locations and divisions, or a diverse set of roles. The powerful content targeting features of Wizdom is one of the products real strengths.

For successful targeting and personalisation you are reliant on complete and accurate people data that can then be stored in Active Directory. The better your information, the better you can carry out content targeting and the better the experience for your users.  By filling in the gaps and correcting mistakes, the LiveTiles profile completion tool helps you to get the data to be able to take full advantage of personalisation capabilities within your intranet product, delivering the right content to the right groups.

3. It helps your users navigate the organisation

One of the nice things about the solution is all profiles can be viewed as a navigable organisation chart. An org chart is always a popular intranet feature that helps employees not only find the right person to connect to but also understand complex organisational structures.

The org chart can also be limited to one function or division which can then be embedded on a page. For example, you could have an org chart of your IT function on your IT intranet landing page. Wizdom customers can also make the org chart available through the Wizdom Power Panel, cementing it as a useful tool right across your digital workplace.

4. It saves your intranet teams time

If youve ever had to run a campaign to encourage your users to complete their employee profiles, youll know that it can be a time-consuming (and sometimes painful) effort. Even if a campaign is relatively successful, youll then need to spend time to make sure profiles stay up to date. The Hyperfish tool saves your intranet team significant time by taking most of this effort away, and getting better results in the process.

Most of this is because of the automation and AI I in the background the tool just gets on with it. However there is also robust and granular reporting so if you need to target any communications or interventions because one team or function arent completing their profiles, or nobody is adding skills information, you can focus efforts on contacting the right people or asking for the right information.

5. It increases data quality and supports governance

AD and employee directory information must be of good quality – having inaccurate and inconsistent data is usually worse than having no data. This means trying to establish some rules and governance around the data that is added. A similar approach is true of intranets as a whole; good intranets need robust governance to ensure they remain focused and deliver value.

One of the great things about the approach in the LiveTiles solution is it can help to drive accuracy as well as maintain governance. For example, it leverages Microsoft Vision Services to ensure that only real, single photos of people are uploaded rather than a cartoon or someones cat! You can also set formatting rules and approval workflow for specific information to help to drive accuracy. For example, you many want to have consistency in telephone number formatting if youre asking people to update their mobile phone number, or if you need a manager to verify skills within a profile.

6. It drives trust and adoption

Successful intranets thrive on good adoption and trust in the content. A fully populated and accurate employee directory can play a significant role in this. Firstly, accurate people data builds trust. If you see your own data as inaccurate it can colour your view of all the content in the intranet.

Secondly trust builds adoption and confidence. People realise that the information is reliable and are more likely to visit. Using AI and adding data can also be that first step for an individual to contribute to the intranet. Once a user finds its easy to submit information, they usually feel more confident and ideally more interactions with content such as comments and likes, as well as contributions in groups. will follow.

Want to know more?

LiveTiles Office 365 profile completion tool has enormous potential for your profiles and your intranet!  If youd like more information or want to arrange a demo then please dont hesitate to get in touch.

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