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Outgrowing a SharePoint intranet: WACKER’s story

WACKER Chemie AG’s SharePoint intranet was in use for over ten years but was no longer delivering value to the business. As part of a drive to digitally transform employee experience for its 15k international employees, WACKER partnered with Unily to design a modern employee experience platform that could reinvent engagement and collaboration across the business. Discover the lessons they learned along the way.

Wacker employee - scientist with test tube

Launching the future of work with an employee-centric intranet

WACKER Chemie AG is a German multinational chemical company, founded in 1914 by Alexander Wacker. Operating in more than 25 production sites in 32 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, WACKER has over 15k employees working across the globe in 52 sales offices. The company produces state-of-the-art specialty chemical products found in everyday items ranging from cosmetic powders to solar cells and boasts a portfolio of over 3,200 products supplied in over 100 countries.

WACKER’s previous intranet was a SharePoint 2010 platform, which was in use for more than ten years. With information and communication needs rapidly evolving, the legacy platform presented a barrier to delivering the digitally-enabled future of work that WACKER envisioned for its employees. With a workforce located across various continents, and working in specialized roles in both frontline and desk-based positions, the businesses needed a digital hub that could unite everyone and underpin a culture of borderless collaboration.

"In the ten years that SharePoint has been in use at WACKER as an intranet, information and communication needs have developed rapidly."

Joerg Hettmann - SVP of Corporate Communications at WACKER

Out with the old: facing SharePoint's limitations as an enterprise intranet

For WACKER, the main challenges it was experiencing with its legacy SharePoint intranet that led to the revival project were:

  • Poor search and unintuitive navigation made information difficult to locate
  • Lack of social features and need for Microsoft licenses prevented universal access, limiting collaboration opportunities
  • Burdensome for IT to maintain and develop, leading to dated aesthetics and functionality
  • Hard to integrate with the wider digital landscape

"We're seeing more and more enterprises step away from SharePoint intranet solutions having battled for years to adapt the infrastructure to suit ever-growing employee needs and enterprise use-cases. There is a tendency for IT departments to look to maximize existing Microsoft licenses ahead of third-party solutions, leading them to a SharePoint intranet. The reality is, weighty development and maintenance costs lead these enterprises back to the OOTB SaaS market before long. It's very hard to make SharePoint fulfill the demands of a complex workforce, particularly in the digital age of work."

Paul Jackson - SVP Sales at Unily

WACKER's initial goal was to strengthen the role of the intranet within the digital workplace, and increase its overall relevancy for employees. WACKER also recognized the opportunity to streamline its complex digital landscape with a single front door to apps and tools that would help employees make sense of the array of systems available to them. The enterprise needed a platform that was able to integrate every tool into a "single pane of glass" view, bringing systems together into a usable hub that represented WACKER's brand and vision for the future of work.

Wacker collaboration intranet case study

Case Studies

WACKER: enhancing collaboration with a user-centric intranet

From scientists to engineers, WACKER’s workforce is comprised of experts that have set the enterprise apart as a pioneer of modern chemistry for more than 100 years. To pave the way for the next century of innovative work, WACKER replaced their SharePoint intranet with GLOBE; a user-centric employee experience platform that reimagines collaboration across the enterprise and its extended network of partners.

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The secret to success: putting employee needs first 

For WACKER, having an enterprise intranet that was ‘employee-centric’ was more than just a buzzword. Given that the intranet is designed to serve the needs of employees and enhance their experience of work, it was important that employees were involved in the project scope from the outset. The enterprise selected 150 employees to participate in the process, led by a cross-divisional team of IT and corporate comms.

Focus groups were asked to take part in 17 workshops held in different global areas. As an output of these activities, the project team collated 300 employee-led requirements for the new intranet. Employees were then asked to test three pilot solutions and provide feedback that would support the delivery of a final, employee-certified solution.

"Having our employees test the products in this manner meant we were able to make a well-grounded decision as to which intranet would be the best fit for employees, with Unily being the clear best fit from a cost, integration, and user perspective. Unily takes on the best of both worlds, combining a social intranet with traditional CMS publishing to give a full digital workplace experience."

Employee working remotely from an employee experience platform

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The features that changed the game

After deciding to overhaul its SharePoint intranet, WACKER worked with the Unily team to design its new and improved modern intranet, focusing on specific, employee-driven features that would deliver value to the workforce from day one. 

Wacker intranet homepage

#1. Integration of all tools and technologies

WebEx, SalesForce, and ServiceNow are just three examples of tools that were introduced in a short amount of time. Because of this, some employees felt overwhelmed by the different amount of tools they needed to incorporate into their work-life, and so many were going unused.

Unily’s robust integrations frameworks allow WACKER to bring together the disparate systems into one, intuitive user experience. This ‘single pane of glass’ view to its digital ecosystem eliminates the need for employees to constantly switch platforms, empowering peak productivity.

#2. First-class search and findability

For WACKER’s employees, having a Google-like search function was a high priority. Through the Unily platform, employees can make the most of an instant global search across all integrated tools and platforms. Whether you’re looking for something in Teams, SharePoint, Salesforce, or on the intranet itself, the knowledge-based search tool will pull the information up for the user, eliminating the need to jump between systems.

Another part of the user-centric approach to the platform was making sure the information architecture (IA) distributes relevant and helpful information. Previously, content, documents, people, and skillsets were all divided up and not easy to find. WACKER wanted to bring it all together and combine content with the responsible people to bring a taxonomy into play. Using tagging in metadata, all information can now easily be found in an integrated approach, saving time and increasing productivity for employees.

Man using enterprise intranet on laptop to communicate with colleagues

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SharePoint vs Viva vs turnkey intranets for enterprise internal communications

Microsoft 365 and SharePoint have become something of an industry-standard in productivity and collaboration tools, but is a SharePoint intranet enough for enterprise internal communicators? And what does Microsoft's latest arrival, Viva, bring to the table? Can SharePoint or Viva deliver as your enterprise internal communications platform? 

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#3. Easy-to-use CMS publishing

The publishing process was an important criterion for WACKER. In the previous SharePoint 2010 intranet, employees found it hard to publish content as the process was too complex, with feedback stating that content was only published when absolutely necessary.

WACKER wanted to turn this around and have employees happy to publish things whenever they wanted within the platform. Unily’s easy-to-use CMS publishing has meant that all employees now feel comfortable enough to make the most of their intranet software.

#4. Mobile application to increase reach

To increase employee reach and branding, WACKER is rolling out a mobile application of the intranet. This will improve the productivity and attention of employees and will include the integrated user experience.

The mobile intranet application is easy-to-use and completely user-friendly, making the most of mobile toolbars for quick navigation, and smooth transitions and animations to make for an engaging user experience.

Wacker mobile intranet homepage

#5. Built-in analytics for continual improvements

WACKER has monthly meetings with Unily to analyze its customer success reports, which offer a month-to-month view of the KPIs and analytics measurements. Additionally, the platform has built-in analytics for WACKER to directly see interaction and usage of the intranet, meaning the company can directly oversee its own KPIs.

Having this data and information means WACKER can continually improve the overall user experience based on the interactions and feedback, installing new features and capabilities as required.

The business impact of transitioning from SharePoint

Unily’s journey with WACKER truly demonstrates that the day of designing employee-first technology has arrived. The evolution of the platform is an end-to-end employee experience that has been crafted by WACKER’s workforce to encourage effective teamwork and generate unparalleled results. By moving away from SharePoint, WACKER has been able to create an employee-centric platform that delivers measurable business impact, reinventing the way employees collaborate and share knowledge.

"Our new GLOBE takes us away from our previous focus on organizational units. Now, we are rigorously re-imagining the intranet from the ground up, from the perspective of our employees, the users."

Dirk Ramhorst - CIO at WACKER

The results in numbers

After the initial launch in July 2020, the platform saw more than 3,200 active users, 6,800 browser sessions, and 46,800 platform views within the first 24 hours.

Two months later, the platform was already boasting:

  • 12,000 active users
  • More than 500,000 browser sessions
  • 1 million platform views
  • 38,000 entries in the phone book

The goal of being a more meaningful platform was quickly reached and has overall improved productivity by pushing dialogue and compelling communication across the global company.

"WACKER’s intranet embodies the future of workplace collaboration. It’s no longer about who’s in the room with you or even who’s on your team. Instead, WACKER employees now have their entire extended network at their fingertips, through a platform that was designed by their workforce and for their workforce."

Kaz Hassan - Product Manager at Unily

Transitioning from SharePoint has introduced a new era of enterprise-wide collaboration for WACKER employees that transcends any previous boundaries. The new platform offers an intuitive experience for the global workforce, enabling all employees to experience limitless communication and productivity. 

WACKER lab technology

Webinars

How WACKER turned a legacy SharePoint intranet into an employee-centric communication platform

When WACKER discovered that its legacy SharePoint intranet was no longer up to par for its employee’s needs, the company set out to create a true employee-centric platform. In this webinar, learn how to make sure your employees are the main focus of your intranet.

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Reconsidering your SharePoint intranet?

If you're inspired by WACKER's story and considering moving away from your own SharePoint intranet solution, speak to one of our digital experience experts today to discover how you can join WACKER in the digitally enabled future of work. 

Get started. Get your free demo.

Reinvent your intranet for the employee experience era.

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