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Many organizations have found significant value in company Intranets and SharePoint has been a popular platform for supporting those efforts. SharePoint 2016 was released last year and promises enhanced features to support how modern workers operate.

As a technologist, I have worked with SharePoint since 2003 in numerous industries with differing goals. I continue to believe SharePoint is the best vehicle to address these goals including:

  • finding information more easily than the shared drive
  • having access to company news
  • routing forms for approval
  • connecting with peers

For most organizations, these goals remain important. What must also be considered however, are the changes to ways people perform work.  We are a mobile workforce that is often accessing information on different devices. We often check in during off-hours and we always look for the simplest way to accomplish a task or process.

SharePoint 2016 was Microsoft’s first release of SharePoint following the Cloud First strategy. Features available in Office 365 were made available to customers using SharePoint on premise. SharePoint on premise continues to address the needs of organizations that require more control over infrastructure and controlled rollout of new features.  Feature Packs include enhancements for SharePoint and can be installed at the discretion of the organization.

For Office 365 subscribers, SharePoint empowers users with the same features and alleviates the organization from management tasks related to hardware and infrastructure.

The current versions of SharePoint have improved upon features that are most beneficial to organizations making it more relevant now than ever. The ultimate mix includes task-based core tools to help employees do their jobs, as well as social networking and collaboration tools to promote knowledge exchange and participation.

SharePoint now offers a modern interface in keeping with efficiency-focused preferences of workers.  Items presented as tiles, a shallower navigation and inline-editing capabilities for lists.

Microsoft Flow includes connectors that enable you to exchange data between SharePoint and a variety of third-party services; you can store and modify that data within SharePoint.

PowerApps is a new enterprise service to connect, create and share business apps with team members on any device in minutes. PowerApps is also being integrated directly into the modern team site, so you can create cross-platform PowerApps that utilize SharePoint lists and libraries as a data source.

Rather than talk in hypotheticals, here are specific examples that help illustrate these features in action:

My Desktop –when I fire up my machine first thing in the morning, I can get started right away as everything is in one place. The Dashboard shows yesterday’s numbers, a worklist shows items that need my action, email is right there, documents modified by my peers are highlighted and the lunch menu for the café is on the page as well.

HR – As an employee, I want my interactions with HR quick and painless.  With SharePoint, I can submit my vacation request, expense form, or view my paycheck stub all in one place.

My Phone – I travel into work on the light rail which gives me an hour to get a jump start on the day, but I am probably not going to dig my laptop out of the bag. Using the SharePoint Mobile App for my iPhone, I can see sites I frequently use and contribute to, news for me and can contact my peers right from the app.  My company can create and target content that populates my feeds.

Social – it’s great to see birthdays, anniversaries, the food truck schedule and company events which may not be on other social networking sites.

SharePoint, from time to time, has had a bit of an identity problem. But for the organizations that I’ve worked with who have built well thought out taxonomies, rolled out apps and workflow and styled a nice-looking intranet, it has had great adoption.  Things that should be easy, in fact are easy for us and at some point, is feels wrong to email a document rather than share it through my team site.

The intranet is not going anywhere.  The challenge is to drive engagement within the organization by leveraging a platform that doesn’t get in the way of what you need to do.  SharePoint allows content authors to focus on what they are creating, information workers to find a document or reference they need and the rest of us to finish a process and move on with our lives.

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