The release of SharePoint 2013 has many IT managers pondering the benefits of upgrading their various SharePoint systems.
In truth most will keep with existing 2007 and 2010 installations, at least until the first service pack for 2013 becomes available. But for others, a new SharePoint presents an opportunity to refresh or replace their company Intranet systems.
SharePoint 2013 offers a host of new features that could be used in these projects. But before you do anything, you should be asking yourself what users actually need. Going further, a good company Intranet design should consider what users now expect from their Intranets. How has the wider web and technology in general, influenced end users' views? What impact has Facebook, LinkedIn, even Amazon, had?
Let’s look at three features a typical user might expect to see in a new company Intranet:
1. Mobile intranet access
With the sheer volume of iPads, iPhones, and Android devices out there, the mobile Internet is impossible to ignore. No self-respecting website would consider launching without a mobile version, or more likely without using responsive design techniques (where the site adapts to the device viewing it). Your Intranet should be no different, and SharePoint 2013 provides a number of new mobile features to help in this area.
2. A social element
‘Social’ on Intranets used to mean throwing in a discussion board or two at the end of the project. Happily things have moved on. Facebook, and a myriad of other sites and services, have changed what ‘social’ means forever. ‘Facebook for the Intranet’ is not necessarily always the answer, but certainly the Intranet should now be facilitating some kind of user interaction. Microsoft has purchased Yammer to improve SharePoint in this area, although the current release includes lots of social goodness already.
3. Intranet Integration
Users are now comfortable in a world where their iPhone connects to their Facebook account. A world where they can tweet directly from LinkedIn, or easily sync all of their home computers to share files. Users expect systems to integrate, and the Company Intranet should be no different. This means ‘single sign on’ across multiple systems, contact information pulled directly from HR tools, and maybe even content sourced from the likes of Twitter and LinkedIn.