Is this the rebirth of the SharePoint Intranet?
With the cloud gaining momentum, the future of the intranet is never far from our minds, or more specifically, the future of the traditional intranet portal. Modern business users want tools that make them more productive and engaged, and they want them in a single, easily accessible location. Microsoft’s SharePoint Server was once billed as an all-round company intranet portal, but it simply doesn’t have the capacity for the variety of different tasks users now wish to complete in their day-to-day work.
While we don’t believe that intranets will ‘die out’ or cease to exist, their purpose may change to adapt to the evolving needs of users.
In this post, we explore how exactly the SharePoint intranet has changed (and will continue to change) to cope with the evolving wants and needs of business users.
Migrating to SharePoint Online and Office 365
The most obvious change the SharePoint platform has undergone in recent years is, of course, the move to the cloud as part of Office 365. Offering more flexibility and maneuverability than on-premises instalments, SharePoint Online has seen mass adoption. It seems every business has either moved or is contemplating a move to the cloud, which has led Office 365 to become Microsoft’s fastest-growing commercial product in the company’s history.
Of course, SharePoint migration ultimately comes down to the needs and requirements of your company. Let’s break it down before we get too ahead of ourselves:
Top 5 reasons to migrate to SharePoint Online
- Office 365: if you’re migrating to SharePoint Online, chances are you’re also migrating to Office 365. With different plans including different tools, you can pick the one that’s most applicable to your company’s needs.
- More secure: contrary to popular belief, your data is probably more secure in the cloud than on-premises. With internal data breaches more of a real threat than external ones, the lack of physical access could make data in the cloud more secure.
- The latest and greatest features: while the latest iteration of SharePoint Server 2016 introduced feature packs to keep the platform updated, these updates come to SharePoint Online as soon as they’re available.
- Patch management: administrators no longer have to worry about performing patch management on servers. Microsoft handles all server maintenance for SharePoint Online internally.
- Anytime, anywhere access: in the cloud, your users are no longer tied down to their desktop in the office. They can access email, documents, contacts and more from their mobile phone or tablet.
Top 5 things you need to know before migrating to SharePoint Online
- Understand your current situation. Are your documents structured properly? Do you know what content to migrate and what to leave behind?
- Content or functionality? Are you just migrating content, or are there features and functions you also want to move? If so, you need to know the code is compatible with SharePoint Online.
- Know your new solution. A new system can initially confuse users when they get there, especially if they’re used to a certain way of working. Lay down a communications plan to make sure they know of all the upcoming changes.
- Your current SharePoint on-premises users will be synchronized with the Active Directory. SharePoint Online will need to be synchronized to make sure permissions are up to date.
- Plan & test. There’s a lot to consider in a SharePoint migration, meaning the planning and testing phases you conduct beforehand are of critical importance. Mistakes during a migration can prove extremely costly, so it pays to err on the side of caution.
The Intranet Experience in Office 365
Office 365 contains a multitude of productivity apps to help business users get their work done—whether it’s collaborating on documents in SharePoint, business analytics with PowerBI or managing customer relations with Dynamics 365. This variety has allowed SharePoint Online to focus on what it’s good at—document creation and collaboration.
Beyond that variety, Office 365 helps business users in the following ways:
- Remote working
Remote working is a growing trend; regular work-at-home among the non-self-employed grew 103% from 2005-2015. Such rapid growth is due to the many benefits of remote working: more productive staff, less commuting hours, and a more eco-friendly office.
- Mobile working
2016 was a big year for SharePoint, with the release of SharePoint Server 2016 and the SharePoint mobile app. In terms of SharePoint Online, it’s the latter that offers a whole new way of working for business users, putting SharePoint ‘in your pocket’.
- Modern experiences
The SharePoint user experience (UX) was also updated in 2016 with the introduction of ‘modern’ experiences, including modern document libraries. Libraries have an updated user interface (UI) offering an experience akin to OneDrive, making it easier to create new folders and upload files in the browser. Each Office 365 Group now gets a modern document library by default, replacing the ‘Files’ page.
Keeping Up with Technology
In keeping with Microsoft’s goal of creating “cloud-first, mobile-first” experiences, SharePoint Online and Office 365 are now constantly updated to remain fresh and provide the latest functionality to users.
Still, the variety that Office 365 offers can mean that it’s not applicable to the way certain businesses work. For those companies, an intranet-in-a-box may be a better solution—and is where we might see the rebirth of the traditional intranet occur.
Imaginet’s Intranet Express is a custom-branded, mobile-ready intranet that is prepared for the new features and capabilities in SharePoint Online and Office 365. It’s designed as a cloud solution for SMEs who want an intranet with core functionality and rapid configuration with minimal investment. It’s the perfect starter intranet solution for SMEs that currently don’t have a well-regulated document repository, and includes file sharing, versioning and co-editing capabilities which are all fully mobile accessible.
Whether the traditional intranet disappears and is replaced with a new enterprise trend, the bottom line is that users will always need productivity tools to make their lives easier. And that is something that will not be disappearing any time soon.