SharePoint intranet rebuild boosts user adoption and collaboration

SharePoint rebuild boosts adoption and collaboration

Intranet revamp and governance strategy boosts knowledge sharing by 375%

The brief

Janssen is a leading pharmaceutical company. The EMEA Medical Affairs function in Janssen provides scientific support to both internal teams and external customers. They collaborate extensively on writing scientific knowledge documents. To help them with this they put in place a SharePoint collaboration and knowledge portal.

After 3 years the SharePoint site had only enjoyed modest success with key areas unpopulated and unused. Following a referral by EMEA IT we were asked by the site sponsor to provide consultancy on reversing the poor levels of adoption of their intranet.

Our approach

Whilst many people had their own ideas as to why the intranet was struggling, we approached the project with fresh and open minds. One of our top SharePoint consultants designed a research project that included a deep dive into the analytics, a content audit, a stakeholder workshop and 25 one-on-one interviews with content owners and end users from across the EMEA region.

Our research uncovered a number of problems – many of which the team had not considered. These included usability issues, technical issues, content issues, inadequate training, and almost non-existent governance. Together these issues had led to a huge lack of trust in the content held on the site.

We put in place a three-pronged plan to address the issues: first, rebuilding the core knowledge and collaboration section of the site to make the user experience more intuitive; second, putting in place a robust SharePoint governance framework aimed at driving up adoption and sustaining high levels of usage; and third, carrying out a SharePoint rebrand to send a strong signal that the site had changed.

The result

With a limited budget and a tight timeline we relaunched the site after two months. As set out in our governance plan we worked closely with the network of 25 content owners. We briefed, motivated and supported them to get their latest and greatest content onto the site. We’ve stayed in touch with the site owner and have delivered ongoing analytics post launch. We have found that:

  • The amount of scientific documents on the site doubled in one month after launch.
  • 9 months later the site has seen the number of documents shared increase to 1762 – an increase of 375% since the launch date.
  • Year-on-year the site has enjoyed a 20% increase in users and a 30% increase in user sessions.
  • With such a pronounced and sustained increase in usage and adoption we have been invited to build a similar site on Office365 for Janssen Asia Pacific.

New 2013 Sharepoint Intranet for healthcare industry

Social intranet on SharePoint Online for Office 365

Using social techniques and Office 365 to help drive a massive culture change

The brief

Nuffield Health wanted our help to launch a truly social and open intranet on Office 365 that would help drive a massive culture change in the organisation:

  • The sponsor and other board members were clear what their objectives were but needed them to be translated and articulated into an intranet vision and strategy.
  • They were also clear that they wanted a social intranet: they wanted to promote trust, respect for expertise, openness and passion for healthcare.
  • Following our recommendation, the client wanted to involve stakeholders and users in the envisioning and design process: first they wanted an engaging vision document followed up with detailed requirements, wireframes and designs to socialise with the company.

Our approach

Our SharePoint consultancy took a top down and bottom up approach to the project, listening carefully to what senior managers were looking for but also reaching out to employees across the many gyms and hospitals in the UK:

  • To set the vision we interviewed each member of the management board and tested some of their ideas with staff across the business.
  • Our SharePoint consultants developed polished concept designs to illustrate the vision and in particular show how staff contributions and networking were a key feature of the intranet.
  • Once signed-off the vision was communicated broadly across Nuffield Health to help drive enthusiasm for the project

The result

Our SharePoint consultancy delivered comprehensive, detailed wireframes and written requirements and a modern vibrant design template to apply onto SharePoint Online:

  • We came up with some innovative features including a co-creation tool, a fun recognition tool and an algorithm to encourage contributions through social reputation..
  • Because we had to target social tools to a broad audience with varying levels of PC literacy and limited PC access time it was important for us to keep ease-of-use top of mind. We stripped back SharePoint functionality to provide elegant and simple interfaces that even our grandmothers could use..
  • We really stretched SharePoint - building in lots of easy-to-use functionality that could be developed natively and without complex code.

SharePoint intranet with Yammer and Office365

A responsive intranet developed in SharePoint Online with Yammer and Office 365

SharePoint consultancy, UX & development to build a global digital workspace for 13,000 users

Johnson Matthey is a FTSE 100 sustainable technologies company headquartered in London with 13,000 employees and sites all over the world. They asked for Content Formula’s help to turn their sprawling SharePoint 2010 intranet into a cloud-first, mobile-first collaboration platform residing at the heart of the Johnson Matthey digital workspace.

Content Formula was responsible for the digital workspace strategy, information architecture and user experience, graphic design, development using our in-house team, deployment and post-launch support. The project had the following objectives:

  • Collaboration – to increase collaboration across the company
  • Communication – to improve communication across the company
  • Productivity – to enable users to achieve their goals more easily and efficiently
  • Engagement – to increase the number of people regularly using the intranet.

Our approach

Content Formula undertook a broad-based discovery stage to enable us to understand issues at Johnson Matthey that a new intranet could fix. The insights we gathered as part of our discovery methodology enabled us to recommend features and functionalities that would drive Johnson Matthey’s business objectives.

Designed as a responsive site for mobile, tablet and desktop the resulting intranet delivered personalized news, links, business unit content, and blogs to users based on their active directory profile whilst also enabling them to customize their home pages to further refine content for their own purposes. This is crucial in engaging 13,000 global employees in the same intranet.

Johnson Matthey aims to become a highly collaborative organisation and to this end have adopted Yammer as their Enterprise Social Network (ESN). We incorporated a headline Yammer feed on users’ homepage. This enables users to follow their chosen threads without having to leave their intranet. We are continuing to work with JM on their Yammer strategy, developing use cases and a roll-out plan in order to ensure widespread adoption. Johnson Matthey also use team sites extensively. We worked with them to formulate appropriate governance around the use of team sites as many groups were creating them as a “work around” of the previous intranet. This governance ensures that team sites are created with a clear purpose and audience and enable true collaboration between organisational groups.

Forms, policies and procedures was a particular challenge with this project as each region and office has different versions of the same policies. By creating a specific content type and a single library for all location, business units and departments with associated metadata we allowed the site to serve the correct version of forms, policies and procedures to the user based on their active directory profile, significantly reducing user and administration effort and ensuring the correct version is always available quickly.

The site was also multi lingual and could be automatically translated locally into multiple languages based on Bing Translator.

The results

The new myJM is making inroads in solving Johnson Matthey's challenges around strategic and organisational engagement, with news now front and centre on the homepage, both corporate and local stories are seen and engaged with by employees every time they open their browser.

Collaboration within Johnson Matthey is now easy and user adoption is this area is consistently gaining momentum, with now over 100 active Yammer groups posting over 1,000 messages per month and over 500 new and active project team sites linking working groups for better productivity.

Content Formula continues to support and enhance myJM to build on this positive start.


"We had a positive experience with Content Formula developing the new version of our corporate intranet. The team are personable, responsive and were very thorough from research through to delivery. I look forward to continuing to work with them."

Jonny Wing, Communications Executive, Johnson Matthey PLC

A SharePoint 2016 intranet-in-a-box example

A SharePoint 2016 intranet-in-a-box with great findability and rich features

How LiveTiles Intranet is helping Craneware to work more efficiently

Craneware is the market leader in developing software and providing professional services which help US-based healthcare providers improve their profit margins. This means Craneware’s clients can continue to invest in better outcomes for their patients.

As part of a wider programme of communicating success across the 250 Craneware employees located in the UK and the US, it became clear that a new intranet was needed.

The existing intranet was impeding smooth communication and the flow of everyday knowledge around the company.

Employees were complaining that it was hard to find content either via the intranet navigation or through search. And, if they were lucky enough to find the item they needed, it was often out of date. Ultimately, many had lost confidence and trust in the intranet and its content.

Using LiveTiles’s intranet-in-a-box solution

A new solution was needed and a relatively rapid deployment was preferred. Content Formula’s consultants recommended deploying LiveTiles’s SharePoint intranet-in-a-box solution.

With a rich set of features to enable publishing and collaboration, LiveTiles (formerly known as Wizdom) was the perfect solution to deliver an attractive state of the art intranet, while unlocking the value of the company’s continuing investment in its on-premises installation of SharePoint.

LiveTiles's intuitive interfaces, powerful templates and sheer flexibility meant the intranet would be far easier to manage going forward, resulting in both a successful and sustainable platform.

The discovery phase

To gain a deep understanding of how staff at Craneware work and how a new intranet might help, Content Formula’s consultants carried out two workshops, one involving a cross-selection of users and another with senior stakeholders. This was supplemented by one-on- one structured interviews with individuals from across the business, both based in the US and the UK.

Our consultants soon built up a detailed picture of how the new intranet could help Craneware meet its strategic objectives and allow employees to meet their everyday goals. We presented our findings and associated recommendations back to the core project team and senior sponsors.

Our accompanying report included the results of our discovery exercise, which not only highlighted issues with findability but also other areas of frustration. Synthesising the useful feedback and ideas received from staff, we also suggested key areas of the new intranet that would have a real impact.

We recommended taking a holistic approach which wasn’t just about deploying new technology but was also about improving content governance, managing search and developing a new information architecture.

The new intranet

With most of our recommendations taken on board, our consultants supported the team at Craneware to structure the site, build the basic architecture, design a new user-focused global navigation, and design key pages (with the aid of wireframes). We were also on hand to advise on overcoming some technical challenges.

The result is a beautiful SharePoint 2016 on premises intranet which slots seamlessly into the way Craneware employees work. At last it’s easy to publish news and success stories which can be targeted to individuals based on their profiles. The content also renders beautifully on to mobile devices via responsive design.

Staff complaints about not being able to find content are massively reduced. A user-centric navigation and a search which can be filtered by subject, content type and other data means employees can find the content they need. Automatic reviews and convenient publishing templates also ensure content owners can keep their pages up to date. Confidence in the intranet and its content has been restored.

And, for the first time, employees are also using the powerful collaboration tools within SharePoint – critical when teams are working across different continents! The intranet is helping Craneware to work more efficiently.

Looking to the future

Of course, it’s still early days for the intranet, but the huge improvements over the previous intranet are clear. More staff are using the intranet, senior stakeholders are fully behind it and the intranet team are excited about the opportunities for the future which the new intranet provides.

Sharepoint intranet for non profit organisation

A responsive intranet developed on SharePoint 2013 on Premise with Skype for Business integration

SharePoint consultancy, UX & development to build a digital workplace serving a diverse user base of 1,700 people

The brief

The Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) is one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes, with an outstanding record of achievement dating back more than 100 years. ICR London operates as a research institute, a higher education institution and an exempt charity.

Content Formula was responsible for the digital workspace strategy, information architecture and user experience, graphic design, development using our in-house team, deployment and post-launch support. The project had the following objectives:

  • connect people, promote knowledge sharing and communication, and foster collaboration - both within and outside of the ICR network.
  • provide easy and fast access to relevant information
  • provide staff and students with access to a range of tools and functions that will make their working lives easier
  • promote the ICR brand and organisational culture
  • develop a cost-effective and sustainable platform

Our approach

We proposed a partially bespoke solution to deliver ICR’s priority requirements utilising pre-designed templates as the requirements matched the features of these templates. This allowed us to reduce costs without any compromise on requirements.

We started with a discovery phase to gather information and insight to inform both the initial strategy for the site, and how the site should be maintained and developed moving forwards.

In the IA and UX phase we developed a set of interactive wireframes to reflect the output of the discovery phase. We ran testing on these wireframes with real users, and also tested the navigation using tree-testing. After, we were happy with the performance of the wireframes in tests, we then applied the ICR branded design to all the templates. The site was then built over five 2-week sprints, tested and the features and functionality developed demoed to the client for feedback and iteration.

One particularly interesting aspect of this project was the collaboration spaces. We modified SharePoint team sites to provide a very streamlined and intuitive place for team and project collaboration – with a personal activity feed for users on the intranet homepage. Also, because the ICR were already using Skype for Business, we integrated these collaboration spaces with Skype, so that each group had an associated group chat within the Skype for Business client.

The result

  • Collaboration area usage has increased by 139%
  • 418% increase in usage of the policy library
  • 19% sustained increase in traffic vs the previous intranet
  • The improved information architecture has seen reliance on search drop by 7%
All opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICR.




"The ICR’s new intranet is a big step forward on our old one. It has a striking design, easy-to-use navigation system, fresh content, and a range of new functionalities. Content Formula understood the ICR’s requirements, and applied their detailed knowledge of SharePoint to craft a dynamic and modern new system. They found imaginative ways of putting into use out-of-the-box SharePoint functionalities, making the new intranet as useful as possible while minimising costs."

Richard Hoey, Director of Communications

Sharepoint Livetiles intranet for a univerisity

LiveTiles Intranet streamlines student-teacher interaction

How LiveTiles created a digital workplace for the Danish Design School in Copenhagen

KADK is the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design, more commonly known as the Danish Design School. Many of its students have gone on to design iconic objects, furniture and buildings that have given Denmark its reputation for world-class design.

KADK comprises 7 institutes which generate education, research and artistic innovation. KADK has about 550 educators, 3 schools, 7 institutes and around 2,000 students that study a variety of programs.

Fast growth of the academy started affecting its unity and was hampering collaboration. It was quite difficult to offer students and educators organized and updated knowledge about every program and module at KADK.

Intranet rooms ease knowledge sharing and collaboration

When KADK moved from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 they chose LiveTiles (formerly known as Wizdom) intranet in a box as their main digital workplace platform. With LiveTiles they built collaboration and knowledge 'rooms' dedicated to each course module where educators and students could collaborate and find core information about their course.

  • The room portal is based on LiveTiles Project Management Module
  • Students can hand in assignments by uploading documents
  • Educators can share teaching resources, send group emails and easily print lists with contact information and pictures of students

Automation saves resources

To create and maintain information about every single of KADK’s modules manually would demand a whole lot of resources. This is why KADK has established processes that ensure this happens automatically. When KADK’s module catalogue is updated before the start of a new semester, a room is automatically created for each of the catalogue’s modules. A site template makes sure that the rooms contain the right type of content and the right features. The rooms draw information from the administration system and continuously update lists of students that follow a module. In this way, students are given access to the right rooms, and, at the same time, the display in module rooms of students, that follow a certain module, stays updated.

Customised visual design

Since teaching staff and students in KADK have a keen eye for design it was particular important that the intranet and room portal was visually appealing. This is why the academy opted for a completely custom design for their LiveTiles solution. The design is consistent throughout the intranet, from the front page of the intranet down to single module rooms, the visual line is kept.

The original case study is published on LiveTiles Global's website.


"Students and educators can find all they need in one place because we have gathered information and functionality. In this way we have created a small digital workplace. The goal is that our educators focus on using their main competencies on what they are meant for education and scientific work. "

Pia Balslev Larsen, IT Coordinator, KADK

A truly multilingual Office 365 intranet

Bibby Financial Services

A truly global intranet serving the needs of all locations

A new global intranet to bring the organisation closer together

Bibby Financial Services provides funding solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.

With over 2,000 employees spread across numerous locations in the UK and throughout the world, effective communication is a cornerstone for great customer experiences.

However, the flow of information around the company was highly efficient; a dated intranet based on SharePoint 2010 had poor adoption, and a heavy reliance on email for internal communications meant messages were being ignored. International offices felt they could be better connected to Bibby Financial Services' UK headquarters.

A beautiful new LiveTiles intranet

Bibby Financial Services engaged Content Formula to implement a brand new, global intranet to transform communication and bring offices closer together.

We carried out detailed research, interviewing stakeholders and users, and made recommendations on how the new intranet could relieve pain points and deliver multiple benefits.

Based on our findings, it was agreed to implement a new LiveTiles (formerly known as Wizdom) intranet. This would not only create a beautiful intranet delivering personalised, relevant content to different groups and locations, but also integrate with other parts of the Office 365 suite which the company was in the process of adopting.

Meeting the needs of every location through content targeting

Content Formula worked in partnership with Bibby's Communications team to deliver a solution which centralises internal communications through news updates and a strong brand identity, but also ensures the needs of different locations and functions are met.

Relevant content and experiences are targeted to users based on their office and division; this involved helping the team populate accurate location data into Active Directory through an inventive data-mapping exercise.

Empowering locations to create content

Using LiveTiles's noticeboard feature, departments and global offices can also create their own local news which is also aggregated on the intranet homepage. Now the new intranet offers a dynamic feed of activity right across all locations, acting as a pulse for the whole organisation.

To ensure that local content teams were fully trained on how to use the intranet, Content Formula designed and delivered a "Train the Trainer" programme so local content champions could deliver effective training to content owners in different global locations.

A truly multilingual intranet though auto-translation

The needs of global employees are also met by translating content into local languages. If a piece of content has not been translated, Microsoft's automated Bing translation feature is enabled with content automatically translated into a user's native tongue based on their location. While machine translation is not 100% perfect, messages are still successfully conveyed for all employees across the world for the very first time.

The intranet also helps to drive collaboration between offices with dedicated templates for team and social workspaces.

Communicating as one company

Although it is still early days, the intranet has already proved highly successful in helping global offices to better communicate and work together, making Bibby Financial Services truly feel like one company.

Accounting firm Office 365 intranet – Haines Watts

An Office 365 intranet solution that delivers quick productivity improvements and is popular with employees

Extensive research & discovery phase led to high levels of adoption for the Office 365 end solution

The brief

  • Haines Watts is a top 15 chartered accountancy firm with 1100 staff, servicing 35,000 clients from 80 offices across the UK
  • Having expanded fast through organic growth and acquisition, existing communications and knowledge sharing tools were no longer fit for purpose
  • Communications were difficult to co-ordinate and risked causing compliance issues with accounting industry regulations. Workflows were paper- and email-based and relied on people knowing the process (see our video below)
  • Rapid expansion was starting to erode a strong corporate culture of unity and togetherness
  • HW Group leadership wanted to leverage the combined knowledge of the whole workforce rather than acting as a collection of disparate, standalone local offices

Our approach

Content Formula's consultants carried out an extensive discovery exercise to understand stakeholder needs and user needs. This covered workshops and interviews with people at all levels of the company and from all over the country. Our focus for research is always to understand business challenges and pain points, not to compile a technology wishlist.

We presented our findings to the HW board of directors. The presentation was organised into key themes, insights, verbatims, recommendations, budget and an overall vision for the future intranet. Recommendations included core functionalities, governance considerations, technology choice and success criteria to deliver the board’s objectives.

This research step is key in driving leadership buy-in and securing budget. Crucially, this inclusive research approach leads to high levels of adoption for the end solution.

Our solution was to focus on knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer interaction in order to drive a culture of corporate togetherness and to deliver tangible value to employees and the organisation as a whole. Communications was also a key objective, in particular to improve compliance across all office branches. We used gamification techniques to engage employees to submit high quality content.

Our recommendation was to move the client to a cloud infrastructure on Office 365 and SharePoint Online. Access is always a key consideration for intranet adoption - cloud-based solutions make secure access easy across all devices. An intranet solution integrated with the many tools available in Office 365 also deliver quick productivity improvements and are popular with employees. A user-friendly and attractive interface was key. A common challenge with SharePoint is hiding some of the clunky interface and usability issues whilst adhering to brand guidelines.

The result

  • The site launched in October 2016.
  • The communications teams have embraced the site and have stopped reliance on cascade emails.
  • Haines Watts now has a workflow tool that allows non-technical people to create workflows for things like new starter onboarding (see our video above).
  • The Social Q&A tool has been a key driver of traffic and engagement. In 4 weeks 87 questions have been submitted which have received 207 answers.
  • A high proportion of employees have completed their profile and are now receiving endorsements from their colleagues.
  • Informal feedback from across the company has been very positive.
  • The board have committed further resources for ongoing management and enhancements.

Case study – Microsoft Teams project archiving with tagging and powerful search

?What If!

An innovative approach to leveraging project-driven knowledge

An innovative approach to leveraging project-driven knowledge

A LiveTiles (formerly known as Wizdom) intranet with custom Knowledge Management features to drive exceptional client service

?What If! helps organisations to innovate new products, services and ways to operate. The company’s two hundred staff use project methodologies to deliver exceptional outcomes for clients.

To drive effective communication and engagement, the company was looking for a modern intranet solution which could integrate with Office 365.

Additionally, the management team wanted a better way to share project knowledge. In any project there are valuable files which are an essential reference point for future work - sparking ideas, driving efficiencies and inspiring clients.

Staff were finding it difficult to tap into this rich seam of knowledge. Once a project was finished valuable documents became invisible, lost in archived Teams spaces, emails or in the file network.

?What if! engaged Content Formula to deliver a new compelling intranet and build an effective Knowledge Management solution for project output which would integrate with Office 365 and Microsoft Teams.

Driving requirements

To create detailed requirements, we held several workshops with key stakeholders and user groups.

It was clear that any solution hinged around the project review process, the moment when a project is formally closed. Teams needed to identify and valuable files – the “project gold” – and tag them accordingly so they could be easily found.To make this process sustainable, the solution had to be quick, easy-to-use and leverage automation.

With requirements agreed, we worked closely with the client to design and build the solution, using wire-framing, prototyping and testing to iterate and improve the final deliverable.

Using the power of LiveTiles

We designed a solution which uses LiveTiles, a leading turnkey intranet product based on SharePoint Online.

LiveTiles offers an attractive interface, effective news publishing, easy-to-manage pages, a strong search and integration with Office 365 tools, as well as a flexible platform to meet future digital workplace ambitions.

This custom search interface allows employees to search for re-usable materials from past projects that were stored in MS Teams.

A simple but clever Knowledge Management solution

We also delivered an innovative custom-built Knowledge Management solution integrated with Microsoft Teams and the intranet.

Project teams can place their most valuable "gold" documents in a special folder within Microsoft Teams. There is also an automated archiving process, where “gold” documents are automatically tagged with project metadata to aid findability and minimise the effort for team members. An attractive intranet page for each project is also created where users can view project details and access documents.

A new custom intranet search interface helps employees find valuable project files based on different criteria. A further integration with Delve and people search allows users to discover projects which other staff have been involved with.

A sustainable solution built around the way people work

At last !What If?! has a sustainable Knowledge Management solution which connects the dots between projects, project knowledge and people. This is driving efficiencies and improving project delivery where staff can leverage the successful approaches and material from previous efforts.

!What if? also has an excellent new intranet which is going from strength-to-strength; streamlining communication, collaboration and knowledge-sharing, while also encouraging the use of Office 365 tools.

MS Teams for live projects are accessible from client sections on the intranet. This is where admins can decommission the Teams of closed projects. Each archived project has a page on the intranet that lists the documents captured from MS Teams and the project team members.

Case study – Introducing Cyril, Haines Watts’ new intranet-based chatbot

Introducing Cyril – Haines Watts’ new intranet-based chatbot

How new Intranet chatbot helps to improve efficiency in the company

At Content Formula we strive to work with cutting-edge intranet and digital workplace technology, working in partnership with our clients to implement new solutions. One project we're very excited about is the introduction of a chatbot at accountancy firm Haines Watts.

Chatbots and artificial intelligence are currently receiving a lot of attention and hype. A chatbot allows users to have a conversation in natural language with an automated “bot”. This can help employees to find information they need and complete simple tasks. The bot also uses artificial intelligence to develop a greater understanding of the phrases and language used and can therefore “learn” how to communicate better.

About Haines Watts

We've been working with Haines Watts since 2016. Haines Watts is a top 15 UK accountancy firm with over 1,000 employees located at 80 offices through the UK with a range of services across different sectors. As the firm has expanded rapidly, we’ve worked closely with the digital team to implement a new custom-built Office 365-based intranet called Connect which has successfully driven communication, collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the firm.

With innovative features such as a powerful forum to ask and answer questions and a centre which helps streamline tasks for new joiners, the new chatbot is the latest new intranet feature to improve efficiency.

Meet Cyril

The new chatbot is called Cyril, named after the company's founder, Cyril Haines Watts. Employees can ask Cyril questions in two places – either via Skype for Business or via the intranet - where there is a chat window in the bottom right hand corner of every page.

Currently Cyril is mainly focused on helping users locate content on the intranet. They can ask questions such as "Where can I find information on annual leave?" or "Find me all the people called David in the company.” Users can also type shorter sentences like "Find annual leave".

On being questioned Cyril will return suitable answers or items, sometimes inviting the user to click through to the item they need. Because the bot consumes every single piece of information on the intranet it means many different types of content including news, questions and answers, job vacancies, documents, and expert profiles can be returned.

The bot can also answer several other questions or respond to different commands. For example, if you ask Cyril to "Show me a fact" it will display a small nugget of knowledge about Haines Watts’ history.

How Cyril works

Cyril works by interpreting the natural language phrases entered by employees, trying to match the words to what in chatbot design is called an “intent”. Cyril is basically asking itself ‘what is the user asking me to do?’.

The Microsoft framework we use which turns natural language into an intent is called LUIS (Language Understanding Intelligence Service). LUIS helps translate a phrase into a list of intents we’ve already programmed into Cyril. These intents include 'find an expert', 'find a vacancy', 'find office details', or ‘search everything on the intranet’.

For example, if somebody enters the phrase "Find me a job" LUIS will match that to the "Find a vacancy" intent and then Cyril will go and perform a search query as requested. LUIS also identifies the variable (or “entity” in the phrase) which is any specific criteria or information users are looking for. For example, the phrase "Get me details on the London office" will identify London as the entity and then Cyril can go and return the right content

What’s particularly clever is as more users use different terminology., the bot starts to be able to learn additional phrases and better translate language into intents. Cyril understands more as more people talk to him, his vocabulary continuing to grow and grow intelligently.

Setting up Cyril

Because chatbots can learn language it’s important to train a bot so it can be more effective. We’ve worked closely with the team at Haines Watts to test, train and improve Cyril and, so far, the feedback has been very positive. Now that the bot has been launched to almost all employees it will be fascinating to see how the use of the chatbot develops over the coming months.

One of the factors that has made Cyril more effective is that all content within the intranet is tagged with controlled terms, so findability on the intranet is already strong. Cyril therefore starts with a strong foundation to successfully find the things that employees are asking for.

The future beckons

At the moment Cyril's main function is to help with intranet search, but Haines Watts has big plans to integrate Cyril with other systems. There is great potential to not only automate various tasks and processes to drive efficiency, but also to start to get value from the vast amount of business data and intelligence Haines Watts holds on its systems.

For example, the firm is considering how Cyril could interrogate data from its CRM system and external company information to produce business intelligence reports. Cyril might even be able to automatically suggest and arrange business development calls with key contacts and even put reminders into an individual’s Outlook calendar.

Let’s chat about chatbots

While it’s early days for digital workplace chatbots, we can already see the potential for this new technology. If you’d like to have a preliminary conversation about chatbots and how they might be able to work for your intranet and organisation, then get in touch. And yes, you’ll be talking to a real person from Content Formula, not a bot!

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