There is a huge amount of interest at the moment in enabling greater access to company data and capitalizing on intranet investments. Making best use of cloud technologies in conjunction with supporting a diverse range of devices is key to this goal. In response to this interest, we have already run a Webinar on this subject area and we have a Seminar coming up on the 21st May. With the new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stating that the focus for the company will be 'Mobile First, Cloud First,' now more than ever is the time to take advantage of this disruptive technology. 50% of Microsoft's customers are already 'on the road' to the Cloud.
Sharing knowledge and information, as well as supporting business critical workflows, are fundamental to the success of many intranets. Increasingly we are seeing that Enterprise Social tools are bringing significant benefits to our customers too. Work is no longer a place that you go, it is something that you do, wherever you happen to be and with whatever device you have to hand. Unlocking the power of this working approach can bring huge benefits to an agile and mobile workforce, permitting more time face to face with colleagues and customers, without being tied to the desktop or laptop to get at your information.
There are now more than 1 Billion smartphones worldwide, 4 years ahead of industry predictions. Corporate tablet usage is expected to increase by 50% year on year too. New software tools such as Office 365 are a new yet familiar way of enabling easier, faster, simpler and cheaper access to data and tools previously locked away in on-premises intranet solutions. The basic utility tools of expenses, timesheets and leave requests can all now be accessible from the Cloud and via any device.
Responsive designs, which are specifically tailored for mobile devices, ensure a high quality user experience, despite limited screen sizes and touchscreen access. The web page components and menus can be prioritised to deliver the most useful data to the user, shifting less frequently used features further down the page.
This means that staff that would not typically have access to their own PC can now get access to corporate news, messaging, social tools and data easier than ever before. Meaning that your intranet can reach parts of the workforce that previously had sporadic access.
A typical use case for exercising the benefits of the combined cloud and social tools is for senior management staff who spend a large proportion of their time talking to customers and partners away from their teams. With this technology in place, it is quick and simple to create discussion groups where the manager can ask quick questions to a specific team of experts, and get vital answers whilst still on site with the minimum of effort, giving customers instantaneous access to expertise.
Extranets are another powerful way of collaborating with customers and suppliers and the technologies are now suitably mature that sharing your data can be achieved with confidence. This is provided the appropriate steps have been taken to ensure access is responsibly managed and controlled.
Naturally as with any new technologies and methodologies, there are risks and pitfalls that will need to be mitigated. We have found that with the right advice and guidance, businesses can migrate to the Cloud in a short space of time and enhance the quality of the data en route. Providing a richer user experience which makes the best use of inbuilt functionality, especially search, helping your users get to the information they need quickly and easily.
As you can see the capabilities of cloud based intranet solutions are a great many, and we have plenty more insights on this technology that can be found using the cloud keyword filter under popular topics on this page. But what is important to recognise is that the core capabilities of this technology allow for even greater User Adoption. If you have a new Office 365 intranet solution deployed and you want your staff to pick it up quickly, use it a lot and get on board with the new layout and toolset, then what better way than giving them access to the solution all the time. With mobile access and cloud technology, staff can be at home, commuting or even out and about, and still be learning and getting to grips with your new solution.
Typically cloud based license models also make it easier to perform trials and pilot focussed on specific requirements or business divisions, without the sometimes prohibitive hardware setup costs. If this has sparked your interest and you want to see what this new breed of intranet looks like, have a look at our Nielson Norman Award winning site for Abt Associates. This is an implementation of an Office 365, cloud based intranet, that has been designed to be responsive for access on mobile devices.