What are digital experience platforms (DXPs) and employee experience platforms (EXPs)?

Digital experience and employee experience are terms that have become increasingly common in the digital workplace world, as well as in related fields such as digital customer experience and HR. Accompanying this are the concepts of the digital experience platform (DXP) and the related employee experience platform (EXP), both terms that are seeing ever-wider use. For example, Microsoft has gone to market using the term EXP to describe its Microsoft Viva suite of apps.

But there is some confusion about exactly what digital experience platforms and employee experience platforms are. In this post, we’re going to define and unpack these terms, as well as cover some of their key characteristics.

Defining DXPs and EXPs

As with terms such as digital workplace and employee experience, there is no consensus on the exact meaning of DXPs and EXPs, although there is a broad understanding of their general meaning. For example, when we wrote about What is digital employee experience?, we ended up covering seven different definitions!

The terms DXP and EXP are being used extensively in marketing material from technical providers, so definitions tend to be characterised by the features and capabilities of the product being promoted, meaning general definitions can be further muddied.

Gartner provides a decent definition of a DXP, describing it as an integrated set of technologies, based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints.

These digital touchpoints can include websites, apps, portals and more. When sources use the term DXP, they are generally referring to external-facing channels aimed at customers who buy products and services, such as Sitecore, Adobe, Liferay and Bloomreach.

Using this definition, an employee experience platform can be considered as a specific type of DXP, but one that is firmly aimed at an employee audience and their needs. Josh Bersin, a well-regarded HR thought leader, wrote about EXPs back in 2019, categorising them as a new category of workplace software. Bersin described EXPs as meeting companies desire to integrate their entire end-to-end service experience, and as being platform that lets a company design [a] multi-step, multi-flow experience, integrate it with all the various IT and HR applications needed, and abstract the user from the complexity behind the scenes.

EXP is a term that is increasingly being used to describe software that can include the delivery of an intranet and related content across multiple channels. For example, LiveTiles has occasionally described its suite of products as an EXP.

Seven characteristics of a DXP and an EXP

Getting into a debate about the semantics of exact definitions of DXPs and EXPs can be a bit of a navel-gazing exercise. It’s more worthwhile looking into broader meanings by defining some of the main characteristics of the two. These match many of the key qualities teams are looking for when choosing a modern platform to build and deliver digital experiences for customers and employees.

Here’s our view of seven key characteristics of DXPs and EXPs.

1 They’re integrated sets of distinct capabilities

DXPs and EXPs are platforms. This means they are distinct from being standalone apps and will have a variety of distinct capabilities, features and apps (or the equivalent) that can be deployed, as well as allowing integrations to be built in. Although these features might be experienced separately, they should also be integrated so they can work together seamlessly. For example, we would consider SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams as platforms, but our Xoralia Policy Management library might be viewed as an application. A DXP or EXP will therefore have multiple features that deliver different capabilities to make up one, coherent digital experience.

2 They’re multi-channel

A DXP or EXP can serve and be accessed through multiple channels, such as web browsers, web apps and mobile apps. An increasing number of EXPs can also be accessed through Microsoft Teams.

The aim for these platforms is often to deliver a consistent experience across different mediums to suit different user preferences and use cases. For example, the ability for EXPs to provide mobile access is important for frontline employees. As new channels emerge, DXPs and EXPs will need to keep up. The move for EXPs to be accessed through Teams, for example, is a trend we’ve seen over the past two years.

3 They have multiple use cases

Because DXPs and EXPs are platforms which can incorporate a wide range of features both native and through integrations they can meet a high number of use cases through a range of content and experiences. An EXP, for example, might be able to deliver internal communications, communities of practice, employee feedback surveys, peer to peer recognition, access to policy and procedure libraries, enterprise search, collaboration, wellbeing analytics, access to learning, HR self-service, employee onboarding, idea management and more!

4 They’re user- and people-centric

DXPs and EXPs are about experiences which are firmly focused on the user, and which deliver value to them. The front-end experience should be well-designed, intuitive, easy to use and make people want to return. The overall platform should be geared towards user needs and user journeys, ultimately easing pain points and helping individuals complete transactions, find information and save time. These might sound like obvious, foundational principles for all digital experiences, but it’s worth remembering that there are still a lot of poor digital experiences out there!

Because experience platforms deliver a range of capabilities and have multiple features, the user experience needs to be consistent, smooth and uninhibited across these, avoiding the ultimately confusing and frustrating fragmentation that happens when having to use multiple applications.

5 They’re a single pane of glass for integrations

A DXP or EXP should provide that single pane of glass for everything a customer or employee needs to do or find. This is usually delivered through a breadth of native features, but also through integrations.

A trending theme in digital employee experience is the ability to create one environment where employees can access all the information and applications they need for the working day. The idea of a one stop shop – the single pane of glass or front door to the wider digital workplace – is a persuasive one, helping to save time and reduce the number of different applications that employees need to visit which can be a source of pain and frustration. An EXP should be able to deliver this capability by allowing easy integrations with other applications which allow information to be displayed, simple transactions to be performed and notifications to be viewed.

Similarly, a DXP should provide one place for everything a customer needs to do, including viewing content, completing e-commerce transactions, asking questions and more.

6 Theyre personalised

A central tenet of modern digital experiences is that they are personalised to the individual user, whether they’re a customer or an employee. This means a DXP or EXP recognises the person accessing the platform, and returns content and experiences relevant to that individual’s profile and preferences. For EXPs, this means that content and experiences can be targeted to different employee groups, often based on their Active Directory profile data. It might also be possible for employees to configure their own experiences, for example, by changing the layout of the homepage, subscribing to content on different topics and adding their own favourite links. For DXPs that are aimed at customers, the personalisation element is not necessarily based on a person authenticating into the environment.

7 They are flexible, configurable, extensible and customisable

A DXP or EXP does not deliver a limited range of fixed experiences. They offer the opportunity to create a range of difference experiences by being flexible, configurable, extensible and customisable. You should be able to create excellent customer and employee experiences suited to the needs of your users, with benefits that will be felt at an organisational level.

Still confused? Get in touch!

There’s a lot of noise about Digital Experience Platforms and Employee Experience Platforms, but we think DXPs and EXPs as terms and concepts may be around for a while. While there are no agreed specific definitions, we’re seeing some common characteristics which we’ve detailed in this article. If you’re still confused and want to discuss anything relating to your DXP or EXP, then get in touch!

9 must have features for employee engagement app

Employee engagement remains a key objective for organisations. Fostering a happier and engaged workforce has a range of  benefits that ultimately impact the bottom line: better productivity, lower employee turnover and more focused customer service are just some of the potential outcomes that flow from a  satisfied and motivated workforce. For HR and internal communications professionals, engagement is also often a core aim of what they do.

Technology can play a part in creating the digital channels which  support employee engagement. Of course, this ultimately depends on what you do with the technology, but having strong digital communications that can be delivered to all your employees is a cornerstone of many organisations efforts to drive a more engaged workforce. Here, a mobile employee engagement app that includes communication and engagement features is a definite plus, particularly in companies where there are a high proportion of firstline, mobile and deskless workers.

We recently covered the eight essential features that every mobile intranet app or mobile employee communication app should have.  In this post, were going to look in more detail at nine features in an enterprise app that help improve employee engagement, and how they are delivered. We have seen some of these features  working well in LiveTiles employee engagement app Reach, a mobile app that we work with  which is making a real difference in supporting employee engagement across organisations, especially in these challenging times.

Heres our view of nine enterprise app features that improve employee engagement.

1 Social and collaborative features that give employees a voice

A good employee app includes social and collaboration features such as the ability to post updates, comment on news and even create blogs. For example, LiveTiles Reach enables bottom-up and peer-to-peer communication, as well as facilitating two-way communication and dialogue. The app gives all employees a voice and cuts through layers of hierarchy, meaning the CEO and the trainee shop assistant can have a direct conversation. This sends an important message that employees are trusted and their opinions matter; providing this kind of level playing field shifts an organisational culture in a way that supports strong foundations to build better engagement. It also has a striking impact where deskless workers have previously had no access to digital communications.

2 News to keep everybody informed and engaged

News updates and stories are an important part of any employee app, keeping everybody informed while also driving better engagement. These communications not only support a healthy culture of transparency, but can also prompt messaging that helps employees see how their contribution fits into the bigger picture, as well as highlight organisational purpose and values.

3 Authentic leadership communications with video

A common observation is that the pandemic has changed the way leaders communicate, supporting more authentic and personal communications and often featuring video. It has also led to more dialogue, with leaders asking for feedback and input from employees to get insights on ideas and listen to issues. This trend has many positives – engaged employees have more respect for their leaders; an employee app that delivers messages on video and allows for commenting and rating helps all staff get to know the real person behind the CEO job title.

4 Polls, surveys and other analytics

Polls and surveys are a good engagement feature of an employee app and reinforce the message that employees are being listened to. More importantly, polls allow IC and HR teams to check the pulse on employee opinion and wellbeing, as well as get a sense of any issues that are impacting them; this gives rapid insights for management so they can act quickly to support engagement. Similarly, a good engagement app  has strong analytics into user interaction with content; for example, LiveTiles Reach has robust analytics that gives IC teams insight into the performance of individual communications.

5 Learning

Personal development and growth are also an essential part of employee engagement. Opportunities to learn are key, especially when learning is placed in the hands of the employee. A good mobile enterprise engagement app should offer opportunities to learn, like providing training videos and other course content. Providing access to learning through a mobile device  allows employees to decide when they learn, such as in down time when it is more convenient and without the need to travel, again putting learning in their hands and supporting better engagement.

6 Events

Events are usually a core part of a good engagement and communication strategy; these can be everything from town halls , to  fun initiatives, to events that focus on health and wellbeing. A traditional problem with corporate events is that they  tend to be focused on knowledge workers at HQ, but a mobile app gives the potential for everybody to participate in an event, including those on the frontline. The LiveTiles Reach app has a good events capability, covering everything from registration, to information about the event, to gathering post-event feedback.

7 Shout outs

The social and collaboration tools on an employee engagement app allow for shout outs that can celebrate the success of individuals and teams, highlight actions that demonstrate company values and provide thanks. These updates –  which can be provided both by management and peers – can be highly motivating, resulting in an engaging stream of content that reflects and celebrates what is best about a companys culture.

8 Social communities

One of the most valuable social tools on a mobile employee app are those that support communities for employees with common interests, relating to both work and non-work. These features can play a surprisingly important role in aspects of engagement. A group that covers hobbies and interests such as sport, photography, books or recipes is a great way to drive community, connection and even add a little levity to the day. And yes, they can be used for cat videos! Community functionality calls also support Employee Resource Groups that play an important role in advancing Diversity & Inclusion in many organisations. LiveTiles Reach has strong community features that can support a range of interests and bring employees closer to each other.

9 Access for all

An underlying principle for good engagement is making sure everybody has access to information and feels connected. A good engagement app, therefore, must provide access to all your employees. For example, LiveTiles Reach can be made available on all devices, both corporate and employee-owned, iOS or Apple, and regardless of whether an employee has a corporate email address or is on the Active Directory. Engagement must be for all staff, including frontline, deskless and previously disconnected employees.

 

Need more information? Get in touch!

An employee mobile app can be used to help engage your employees, particularly your frontline workforce. There are a variety of features which enable engagement that we have covered in this article. If youd like to discuss a mobile app, your employee engagement strategy or would like to arrange a demo of the LiveTiles Reach app, then get in touch!

Webinar: AI will transform the digital workplace. What are you doing about it?

Webinar details

Date:  7th July 2020
Time:  2:00pm to 3:00pm UK time

Covid-19 has driven massive digital adoption and there is consensus that the new/next normal will be more digitalized than pre-covid19. Artificial Intelligence is believed to be central in the industrial revolution 4.0, however research shows* that only 10% of AI implementations deliver the value expected.

Join Esben Rytter, Dan Hawtrey, John Scott and Joe Perry of Content Formula as they discuss the topic and answer the following questions:

  • What is AI and why is it important
  • What is AIs role in the digital workplace
  • When will AI disrupt my business?
  • What can I do about it?
  • Where and how to get started?

*State of the Digital Workplace Report 2019 Q2, CMSWIRE and Simpler Media survey based on 450 executives globally

Register now!

 

What is Nintex and how can I use it?

We often get asked by digital workplace teams about different tools and what they do. We try and cover the common answers through an article here on the Content Formula blog. This time its the turn of the Nintex Platform.

What is Nintex?

Nintex is a leading process improvement, workflow and automation software platform. In their own words, you can use the Nintex platform to Manage, automate, and optimise your processes… to quickly and intelligently transform your business.

The software is owned by Nintex Inc, a US-based organisation founded in 2006.The company claims to have over 8,000 customers located in over 90 countries. It is generally considered to be one of the world leading process workflow platforms, along with Microsofts Power Platform.

How it works

Nintex is a very mature and feature-rich platform that comes packed with a number of tools and features. Weve worked with Nintex for many years and know the successful impact it can have.

Essentially, it works by allowing organisations to:

  1. visualise and plan their approach to workflow using a mapping tool that can then be shared across groups for feedback
  2. build relevant workflows leveraging automation through forms, workflow, mobile apps, automation and integrations
  3. improve these processes through a reporting and analytics suite.

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

What features does it have?

The above capabilities are delivered through a number of specific features, including:

Nintex Promapp:

A process mapping tool with an easy-to-use interface that allows teams to visualise processes and then redesign and improve them, if necessary. The ability for teams to collaborate, add feedback and get notified of changes to the mapping process also means that you can also maintain an enterprise-wide library of process maps as your one source of truth for key organisational processes.

Nintex Forms:

The ability to build sophisticated and flexible forms with associated rules allows you to digitise and improve multiple processes.

Nintex Mobile:

Mobile capabilities allow digital workplace teams to bring forms, workflow, notifications and process improvement to mobile devices. Both iOS and Android are supported with mobile-ready interfaces. Some neat features allow you to leverage the power of Nintex for field and deskless workers, for example allowing offline data capture and enabling QR codes. An app studio capability also allows for some custom branding.

Workflow:

Nintex can help you to design workflows that are both simple and complex, allowing you to deliver both local and enterprise-wide workflows that produce real-world improvements. The workflow takes in task allocation, document auto-generation, document signing and integrations. The drag-and-drop design interface is also easy to use.

Nintex Robot Process Automation (RPA):

Nintexs RPA suite is a nice out-of-the-box bot capability that allows for the automation of simple, repetitive tasks. The automations can span across multiple applications and run at scale.

Document generation and e-signing:

Nintex also comes in with the ability to auto-generate documents as part of an process and also trigger e-signing, a capability that can really bring automation up to the next level and potentially deliver digital transformation to processes surrounding contracts, product registrations, service agreements and more.

Nintex Analytics:

An analytics and reporting suite help to monitor the efficiency of processes, identify any trend and opportunities for improvement and then measures the impact of any changes you make. The suite is flexible to allow you to define metrics and design data visualisations that suit your specific needs.

 

Platform strengths

We enjoy working with Nintex and delivering solutions that transform processes for our clients. It has some several obvious strengths including:

  • the ability to combine power and flexibility
  • it is easy-to-use, allowing some process improvement to be configured by non-IT professionals
  • its ability to connect to multiple systems and applications.

Power and flexibility

You get a lot of fire power with Nintex. You can improve almost any process and enable that at scale. However, you can also deliver smaller and simpler improvements too. Because the Nintex platform is so flexible it also means you dont have to compromise on what you automate or the process you want to follow.

Easy-to-use

One of the great things about Nintex it its ability to allow some configuration directly by non-IT citizen developers. The well-designed interfaces means you dont necessarily need to be an IT professional to configure it to deliver simpler process improvement, meaning that super-users and admins within particular lines of business or divisions can leverage it to deliver local automation and process improvement.

To deliver more sophisticated enterprise-wide automation realistically you will need expert involvement.

Multiple systems and applications

Another strength of Nintex is its ability to connect to different systems and applications involved in processes. Theres already a large library of connectors out of the box covering key systems such as Salesforce. This makes it an attractive alternative option for organisations who operate outside the Office 365 world and dont have the luxury of access to the Power Platform. However, Nintex also plays very well with Office 365 and its suite of tools too, with MS Teams and SharePoint both covered in the Connectors library. You can also build custom connectors for other applications.

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

What can I use Nintex for?

Overall level Nintex can be an engine for digital transformation, driving significant improvement for a whole raft of internal processes that will become more efficient, but also interactions with customers.

At a more granular level, here are some examples of processes you could improve with Nintex:

  • Using a form and workflow to drive more efficient HR processes such as requests for annual leave or training
  • Providing one central in-box for all things a manager needs to approve across different systems, driving far greater efficiencies than email
  • Allow site inspectors for an engineering or construction firm to input site inspection data on-site into a tablet or mobile device as well as use photos, whatever the level of connectivity
  • Allow for the auto-generation of a report in Word format based on the site inspection data, saving huge amounts of time over if this was done manually
  • Use marketing automation to deliver emails to customers who have signed up for your email newsletter, and update your CRM system accordingly
  • Automate the issuing of contract documents to new employees as well as the process for signing them, a value-added activity for businesses with high volume recruitment.

For example, when we used Nintex to improve business processes at sustainable technologies company Johnson Matthey we helped to streamline and partly automate a complex process for global supplier due diligence, using workflow and forms that took into account the tasks and decision steps associated with different criteria in the evaluation of a new supplier.

Need more information? Get in touch!

We hope this has given you a useful introduction to Nintex. We’ve also created an infographic Power Automate vs Nintex Workflow. If youd like to understand more, have a specific question or are looking for Nintex support, then do get in touch with us.

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.

Get in touch to arrange a demo!

LMS365 logo

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.

Course creation tools

One of the things we really like about LMS365 is its easy creation of course material to craft advanced learning modules. There are a number of tools, wizards and builders that help admins to put together courses, learning modules, quizzes and more. Its also super-easy to add different learning assets, opening up course creation to non-L&D professionals. And because it’s integrated into Office 365 you can easily use Office 365 content such as Word, PowerPoint, Stream, SharePoint etc.

Multiple course and learning content types

LMS365 is very versatile. It can handle all types of training and learning, meaning it can suit different learning needs. You can administer classroom training (even with integrated room booking) from enrolment to results, as well as all online training including multiple different content types from videos to quizzes. You can even run learning events such as webinars through LMS365.

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

Theres 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.

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.

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.

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!

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 weve 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!

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

Custom business apps on Office 365 – the art of the possible

Office 365 not only offers an incredible array of tools and services such as SharePoint Online, MS Teams, and Outlook but also acts as a flexible, effective platform to develop and deploy bespoke business apps. These can help employees with specific processes and goals that are unique to your organisation.

What is a bespoke business app?

Many of the Office 365 tools can be used straight out of the box. But some features such as Power BI, PowerApps, Flow and even Azure (not Office 365, strictly speaking) are there to help you build custom capabilities and applications and digitise processes. The app may be based on a configuration, customisation, combination or integration of standard Office 365 applications and services.

Why deploy bespoke business apps?

There are multiple reasons to create bespoke business apps. You can:

  • Create apps to your exact specification
  • Improve a huge variety of processes through automation
  • Digitise processes reliant on email or paper
  • Reduce costs, for example discontinuing subscriptions for SaaS apps and point solutions
  • Help employees get things done in ways that are centred on how they actually work
  • Build apps for mobile so that processes can be done on the move
  • Build completely new capabilities and services, and drive innovation
  • Create apps within the Office 365 environment, all easily accessible via Single Sign-On, and advance your digital workplace
  • Help drive adoption of Office 365 tools and fully leverage your investment in Office 365
  • Help to improve the employee experience for all your workforce, for example by building tools specifically for frontline workers
  • And many more!

What kind of business apps can you build with Office 365?

There are many types of different business app you can build and deploy. At Content Formula weve built and launched multiple types of apps.  For example:

Automation and efficiency

Office 365 provides many opportunities to use automation and workflow, helping to improve processes, drive efficiencies, increase accuracy, minimise risk and more. If you have processes which are currently too reliant on email and file shares, or still even use paper, then there are almost certainly opportunities for automation.  For example, at Praetura, a private equity company, we automated a key process for tracking and assessing opportunities for investment, using workflow and automation to take staff through an eight-stage process.  Meanwhile at Haines Watts we helped to streamline employee onboarding with an onboarding workflow.

Reporting and dashboarding

Power BI is an exciting tool which can produce attractive dashboards and reports, bring together information form multiple sources into one place. Reporting apps can help drive insights which support real-time decision making for management, system owners and more. Weve developed numerous dashboards for clients, as well as reporting dashboards as part of other apps.

Content, knowledge and learning

Some apps are created to better manage content, knowledge or learning resources, and provide access for employees. For example, we built a powerful bespoke central policy library that was suited to the specific needs of the Institute of Cancer Research.  Chatbots can also help connect employees to content and knowledge.

Collaboration

Office 365 has a stack of collaboration tools including Yammer, Teams and Team Sites. There are  many possibilities to customise these to suit your processes and ways of working. For example, we added a unique knowledge management solution to Microsoft Teams for !What If?, allowing teams to easily share the most valuable documents containing knowledge from projects.

Mobile solutions

Sometimes business apps based on Office 365 can be designed specifically for mobile devices, particularly if the target audience are frontline or mobile employees who might not have easy access to a computer during the day. For example, Content Formula has developed a mobile news app for field workers. Thanks to Microsoft’s own mobile apps for Flow and PowerApps it’s become very easy to deploy custom mobile apps.

Core operational systems

Sometimes an app goes beyond being an app; its so central to what your organisation and employees do its really a core system. With our award-winning work for property company Moving Made Easy, we created an entire digital workplace designed around the different stages of selling a property, replacing a creaking legacy system, driving significant headcount efficiencies with integration and automation, and even creating new opportunities to innovate their service.

Customer apps

Although most business apps for Office 365 tend to be for employees, its also possible to develop apps that impact customers.  For example, in our work for Moving Made Easy, our solution output PDF reports that are automatically sent to customers. There are now plans to extend the system for direct customer access.

Enhance existing tools

Sometimes you want to use tools from the Office 365 suite, but perhaps they dont quite work in the right way for you. Sometimes a little customisation can go a long way and really add value. For example, we enhanced the use of Microsoft Teams for innovation company What If? so that spaces can be automatically archived and aligned to the companys project management methodology.

Approaches for developing your business app strategy

There are no hard and fast rules to developing your strategy, but here are a few successful approaches weve observed based on our work with clients:

Base your strategy on user and stakeholder research

A strategy for your apps should be based on thorough user and stakeholder research which reveals how people work and their pain points. At Content Formula we carry out our discovery process involving user and stakeholder interviews and workshops, so we get a thorough understanding of the problems we are trying to solve.

Identify obvious opportunities

Usually within any organisation there are some obvious opportunities where an app can make a significant difference. A typical example might be a process which is primarily carried out by email or even manually. Perhaps there is an activity where users must enter different systems to complete tasks or get information.

Sometimes these opportunities might prove to be low hanging fruit where an app can quickly and easily resolve user frustrations or save time. Prioritising straightforward, high value apps that touch a lot of people can demonstrate the power of Office 365 to stakeholders and users and give a wider programme of transformation some momentum.

Align your business app strategy to company and digital workplace strategy

A strategy for your business apps doesnt exist in a vacuum. It needs to align with your wider company strategy but also your more specific digital workplace or Office 365 strategy in order to deliver value, drive adoption and make sure it meets any necessary standards.

Chase widespread value

Some apps are likely to deliver more value than others. Despite it being tempting to design a specific app which might be very clever, it usually makes sense prioritising solutions which have the most widespread value. For example, apps that:

  • cover core or critical activities, for example relating to customers
  • impact a wide number of people
  • deliver considerable time or cost savings
  • enable other potential digital workplace solutions or apps
  • help to eliminate or reduce critical risks.
  • drive or enforce compliance

Build more complex apps in phases

Sometimes more critical apps can evolve into more complex systems, but it can be worth delivering these in phases so you can start to gain value from them and learn about their usage. Its not always advantageous to build too much complexity when youre starting out, and you may want to wrap this into your strategy.

Work iteratively and learn as you go

Most organisations find they learn a lot about how to get the best out of Office 365 once they see it deployed and being used. Taking a more iterative approach to app development can help you to spot opportunities but also get insights into how to develop tools and incorporate more user feedback. If you want to customise Microsoft Teams for an app, learning how Teams is already being used gives you an advantage.

Dont just recreate whats gone before

The digital workplace tools within Office 365 can help you to design completely new ways of doing things. If your app strategy is just redesigning processes in a slightly more efficient way using Office 365, you may be missing out on some exciting opportunities.

Its all about the apps!

Office 365 provides an exceptional platform to build compelling bespoke business apps to help your employees and your organisation. If youd like to talk about your business apps strategy for Office 365 then get in touch with us.

 

We use cookies to give you the best experience on our site. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find more about the cookies, please see our Privacy Policy