These days there is unprecedented choice in the intranet and collaboration space. Not only is there maturity in the intranet software market, but there are also overlapping capabilities with social and collaboration platforms from Yammer to Slack to Workplace by Facebook. Intranet teams have a lot of different options.
One direction of travel is the emergence of a range of hosted or cloud intranets which provide attractive interfaces, templates, the key capabilities you’d expect and, above all, convenience and speed. Intranet implementation projects are now much easier and faster and building an enterprise-ready, feature-rich intranet has never been easier.
Turnkey SharePoint intranets
The turnkey intranet market itself has evolved into two key segments:
- Standalone and self-contained in-a-box solutions
- Those that sit on top of SharePoint Online and Office 365 (some also work with SharePoint on premises).
Intranet managers can opt for strong intranet solutions, either SharePoint based or non-SharePoint based.
But if you are using Office 365 in your organisation, and there are many companies who are or are planning to, there are some clear advantages in implementing a SharePoint-based intranet. In fact. we’d go as far to say that opting for a non-SharePoint intranet-in-a-box solution when you have Office 365 really doesn’t make much sense at all.
Here’s five reasons why:
Creating an integrated digital workplace
In the past couple of years there’s been a lot of talk about the digital workplace and having a more consistent, coherent and integrated experience of the wider portfolio of applications in use throughout the organisation, as well as valuable data and content. This helps drive efficiency and process improvement, helps with findability through an integrated search, maintains common standards across different systems and reduces the chance of a frustrating user experience.
It’s generally recognised that the intranet plays an important role in the digital workplace, often as the front door or point of entry to different applications and critical documents. It’s also usually the place to carry out a search and for employees to find what they need to do their work every day.
If you’re investing in Office 365 it’s very likely that some of the key elements of your digital workplace use Office 365. You may use the document libraries, rich collaboration or the search. A SharePoint intranet-in-a-box product like Wizdom makes it much easier to use the intranet as the front door to current capabilities as well as future functionality on the Office 365 roadmap.
A non-Sharepoint intranet makes it much harder to achieve an integrated digital workplace experience. There will be no integrated search and no simple integration with SharePoint. If your digital workplace is largely based on Office 365 and you want to the intranet to be a gateway to your digital workplace, a non-SharePoint based intranet will likely stymie your efforts.
Unlocking the value of Office 365
Your intranet is a strategic investment and so is Office 365. As well as delivering a more integrated digital workplace, a user-friendly SharePoint-based intranet “layer” can help drive Office 365 adoption which means you’re more likely to be achieving ROI. Your SharePoint turnkey intranet can:
- Highlight many of the features within Office 365, explaining the benefits and raising awareness of these tools through communications
- Add some context to the tools on offer so they have more value. So, for example, a Yammer group might make more sense and have more value for users when it is combined with intranet-based content or document libraries, therefore driving adoption.
- Make Office 365 tools easier to reach and find, through integration into the intranet experience. There are many ways to integrate a product like Wizdom with Office 365, from using Delve and Graph for showing recently documents accessed, to creating a learning portal based on Office 365 video, to adding links in the intranet navigation to these tools.
- Improve the usability of Office 365 with a great interface that employees are already familiar with.
Avoiding duplication of costs
If you’re an Office 365 subscriber you’re already paying for a rich set of collaborative technologies with different options including Yammer, Microsoft Teams and the capabilities of SharePoint itself. Most intranet products now come with their own in-built collaboration capability so when you subscribe to a non-SharePoint intranet product, you’re probably paying for capabilities you already have.
Our chosen SharePoint in-a-box product, Wizdom, is a native SharePoint application so it doesn’t duplicate the functionality you’ve already paid for, instead providing a far tighter experience layer on top of Office 365. (The same argument applies to SharePont on premises).
Avoiding duplication also helps to reduce costs for budget constrained intranet teams not only in terms of licensing but also in all those hidden costs such as training, upgrades and more.
Avoiding user confusion
One of the constant challenges for intranet teams is driving adoption and best use of your digital channels across your wider digital workplace. Having a non-SharePoint intranet and Office 365 running in parallel can undermine those efforts by having two parallel systems with overlapping capability.
While employees like choice, they also like clarity. It’s far better to have a standard system for collaboration which everybody can use and is properly supported, rather than have two competing systems. The aim for an intranet and Office 365 is to remove silos, not create them.
Recently Microsoft has really sped up its product release cycle with a real expansion of the apps available within the Office 365 suite, including Sway, Teams and more. There’s always pressure to add new features to your intranet and you may be able to use some of the new powerful apps from Office 365. Even if there’s no pressing need now, there may be in the future.
With an intranet like Wizdom, you’ll be future-proofed for the changes that Microsoft make, ensuring they are part of your digital workplace and helping to drive adoption through the intranet interface. A non-SharePoint intranet won’t keep up – providing a frustrating and fragmented experience for your users.
Make the right decision
Take it from us, if you’re going down the Office 365 road a non-SharePoint intranet makes little sense. We predict that at some stage in the future that you will want your intranet to integrate with your core suite of Office 365 tools. And if you don’t want to, your stakeholders and your users will eventually demand it.
Wizdom is a perfect choice. You’ll be buying an intranet which keeps up to date with Office 365, but also provides the best integrated experience available as a native SharePoint app.
Earlier in the post we stated that Office 365 is a strategic investment and so is your intranet – with a SharePoint intranet-in a box you’re effectively investing in both