The days of using just a traditional intranet to post static information, communicate announcements, and provide access to documents within an organization, while blocking access to outsiders, are over. In the modern workplace, it has become critical that individuals have connections within and across teams and organizations, as well as with customers, partners, vendors, suppliers, and guests. Those connections need to be available whether users are physically in the office, working from a remote location, or doing a bit of both.
While corporate intranets themselves are not dying, the stereotyped idea of intranets from a decade ago is dying and we must shift our focus to the digital employee experience instead. Many organizations accelerated their digital transformations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and much of an employee’s daily work is now completed using company technology. The digital employee experience reflects how effectively people interact with their digital workplace tools, which allows them to be engaged and productive. Therefore, it is important they have access to seamless technology that provides the tools, integrations, and relevant content they need without requiring them to flip through applications to complete tasks or to get bogged down by cumbersome processes.
Microsoft’s modern collaboration architecture enables improved collaboration, communication, and information management for individuals, teams, and communities across the organization, using the Microsoft 365 suite of technologies, including:
Teams: The hub for teamwork. A chat-based workspace that brings together the people and tools needed for effective collaboration and teamwork. It provides the resources for instant messaging, audio and video calling, online meetings, mobile experiences, and extensive web conferencing capabilities.
SharePoint: The content management and collaboration platform. It is used to manage documents, reports, archives, and other content that is vital to the business process and empowers teamwork with dynamic and productive collaboration tools.
OneDrive: The Microsoft cloud service where individuals can securely store, access, and discover their individual and shared work files. It allows users to access files from anywhere and from any connected device, and sync files to their computer for offline access.
Yammer: The platform for starting conversations, sharing knowledge, and building communities. It enables individuals to connect and engage with people across the company who are outside their typical work group, discuss ideas, share updates, and network with others.
Microsoft Search: An intelligent, unified enterprise search experience from Microsoft that applies the artificial intelligence technology from Bing and deep personalized insights to make search more effective for you in the context of your work.
Outlook: The application that enables individuals to manage their email, calendar, and tasks. Since Outlook is integrated with Office, it also lets users share attachments directly from OneDrive, access Contacts, and view LinkedIn profiles.
Microsoft 365 productivity apps: Best-in-class productivity apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Forms, and Microsoft To Do, with powerful cloud services, device management, and advanced security in one connected experience.
Planner: The solution that simplifies task management and to-do lists for teams. Connected across Microsoft 365 apps, it enables individuals to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files, chat about current projects, and get progress updates.
Microsoft Viva: Tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing, and knowledge discovery. Designed to help employees learn, grow, and thrive, by providing personalized insights and content, surfacing organizational knowledge, and makes training more accessible and easier to incorporate into the regular flow of work.
Microsoft Power Platform: Streamline business processes through automation, boost productivity by building business solutions and leveraging machine learning, make informed data-driven decisions from visual dashboards, and integrate with your existing line of business applications.
Leveraging the Microsoft 365 Suite of Technologies
Overall, the Microsoft 365 suite of technologies provides a digital employee experience designed to empower individuals to maximize their productivity throughout their day, whenever and wherever they may be.
A sample “day in the life” of how an individual can communicate, collaborate, and create on any device from anywhere using Microsoft 365:
- During their morning coffee, they can:
- Read their emails and manage their calendar using Outlook
- Check chats and stay up to date on projects with Teams
- Create and review documents utilizing Office, OneDrive, and SharePoint
- On their commute to work, they can:
- Join meetings or chat with voice or text using Teams
- Catch up on company news by opening SharePoint
- Connect to a meeting directly from Outlook
- At a meeting in the office, they can:
- Conduct inclusive hybrid meetings for in person and virtual participants, collaborate on notes, review Power BI reports, provide feedback through polls, share meeting recordings, and action items using Teams
- Track and share meeting actions with Planner and other productivity apps in Teams
- While collaborating with team members, they can:
- Chat, video call, share screens, and co-author content in context via Teams
- Co-author content by leveraging Office’s PowerPoint, Excel, Word, or Whiteboard apps
- Save and share documents to the cloud using SharePoint and OneDrive
- When connecting across the community, they can:
- Get organizational updates, find answers, and share knowledge with community members on Yammer
- Share communications and news sites to keep all community members up to date using SharePoint
Digital Employee Experience Roadmap
- First an organization securely Digitizes and Organizes its content onto a platform that fosters collaboration and provides employees with easy-to-use tools needed to effectively do their jobs. With the shift to hybrid and remote work, the culture also needs to shift to a digital first approach so work can be accomplished securely from anywhere and doesn’t require an employee to have to be in the office. With Microsoft 365, it provides services and tools such as SharePoint and OneDrive for content management which tightly integrates with the Microsoft Office apps that most workers are already using, and Microsoft Teams for chat-based collaboration, communication, and meetings.
- Change management and Adoption is a big part of transitioning to a new platform. You want to set up your employees for success by making sure they are empowered by understanding how to best use the tools available to them. Employees who don’t understand the technology, or how to use it, are frustrated, disengaged, and unproductive. People are at the heart of every business, and therefore their experiences must be considered to successfully adopt the technology and support the organization’s digital transformation efforts.
- Then we focus on Streamlining Processes by identifying business processes that can become digital and automated such as getting purchase orders or time off approved, saving information from an intake form into another data source, or capturing and combining data from websites and legacy applications to generate reports. Automation can be incorporated both in the cloud and across the desktop environment to save employees valuable time for other business areas that need more focused attention.
- And lastly is continual Business Evolution, where insights and analytics from your organization’s content and data can be used to further optimize business processes and present meaningful information to your organization’s leaders using Power BI dashboards. And leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate content processing, classification, compliance, and extracting key information from documents. This type of automation could be applied to high volume processes like managing contracts, invoices, and timesheets for reducing the risk of data entry errors and establishing a standardized, compliant, and repeatable process.
Bringing it all Together
It is important to change perspective and instead of thinking of an intranet as your organization’s infrequently updated homepage, think of it as a personalized gateway to your digital workplace where employees can discover personalized and relevant news, conversations, content, and resources they need to be successful which is then extended by the other apps and services available in Microsoft 365.
Implementing Microsoft 365 and getting started with a corporate intranet and digitizing your content is a great way to start your digital employee experience journey by adopting new ways of collaborating, communicating, and sharing information. The Microsoft 365 suite of technologies provides a holistic set of tools and applications that allows organizations to securely grow their digital workplace and evolve their business, while providing a platform where employees and teams are empowered to increase productivity and achieve key business goals.
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