Over the past 9 years, I have worked with many organizations to help design and build their intranets. The majority of these sites were built on Microsoft’s SharePoint stack and custom designed to meet the client’s individual business needs. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of deploying countless solutions that help businesses work faster and smarter. I’ve seen what works, and I’ve seen what doesn’t work. Most of all, I have had some great lessons learned.
Regardless of the organization, every intranet project I’ve worked on had these three common objectives:
- Improve collaboration between teams/departments
- Improve searching for resources within the organization
- Be a one-stop-shop for employees to consume relevant company information
Since most of these organization were already using SharePoint for document management, it was easy to leverage this platform. After all, SharePoint has a good set of out-of-the-box (OOB) features like workflows, versioning, security trimming, even language management.
Office 365 Brings on New Opportunities, as Well as New Challenges
With the arrival of Office 365 and the current push to move to the cloud, many of these organizations have started to evaluate how they can move their current intranet to SharePoint in Office 365. This evaluation has quickly uncovered a few things:
- Customizing SharePoint O365 to a corporate look and feel is now very difficult
- SharePoint development experts are very hard to find
- Intranet projects can become very expensive
Because of the above limitations and the added complexities of the cloud, many consultants and bloggers have started to suggest that the "corporate intranet is dead." To be honest, these added complexities had me questioning this as well. Just as I was making my picket signs that read “Intranet…. The end is near!” I realized that the intranet wasn’t necessary a thing of the past. Rather, Office 365 was simply providing a much-needed disruption in our way of thinking. Now that Office 365 has matured, the way we look at our business objectives must change.
Changing the Way we Think About the Intranet in the Cloud
As an IT manager, if you step back and look at what users within your organization are doing, you will notice that they are constantly trying to find easy (and efficient) ways to communicate and collaborate. You will notice most of the users are using products like Dropbox, Slack, Trello, and other online tools they feel will make their job easy (this practice, known as Shadow IT, can lead to some serious issues when left unchecked. Learn more about the Shadow IT problem).
While performing this analysis, you quickly start to realize, “Well maybe my corporate intranet isn’t really what I thought it was… maybe Office 365 IS my corporate intranet. It has everything the organization needs and everything my users need.”
If you really think about it, Office 365 has a great set of OOB tools for all your workloads:
Document Management and Search Solutions
People Search and Security
- Security & Compliance
If we look at the some of the workloads above, we can see that the needs of both the organization (improve collaboration between teams/departments; improve searching for resources within the organization; be a one stop shop for employees to consume relevant company information) and users (easy way to communicate and collaborate) are being met.
So, are corporate intranets a thing of the past? Honestly, I don’t think so. I think the intranet has transformed into a place where Communication Tools like Teams, Outlook, Skype and Productivity Tools like SharePoint, Planner, PowerBI, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint are all accessible in a single location. It is now a place where users can collaborate and communicate in an efficient and pragmatic way without the need of having multiple accounts and complex policies.
Is your organization currently leveraging Office 365? Would you like to learn more about how Office 365 can help you consolidate all your communication and productivity tools in the cloud? Contact us to learn more about how you can make the most of your IT investment with Office 365.