It’s no secret that the intranet landscape has changed. Three years ago, we launched our intranet as a Service product, Unily. The first of its kind, we created Unily to disrupt the cycle of intranet solutions that were expensive and time-consuming to produce and quickly lost sight of the business objectives it set out to solve. Unily offers 80% of essential functionality ‘out of the box’, allowing you to rapidly deploy an intranet solution with no upfront deployment costs, complete with a customer-driven roadmap, consulting services and support to truly break the traditional intranet cycle. Since that time, the intranet in a box market has boomed, with well over 30 software providers offering their own solutions. Earlier this year it was predicted by intranet expert James Robertson that within 1-2 years, 80%-90% of SharePoint intranet solutions will be out of the box, with only a small number of organizations choosing to build custom solutions from the ground up.
We fundamentally believe this is the right way for the industry to be going, as it helps businesses focus on their essential business tasks, without spending months, and sometimes years, consumed by long, costly intranet development projects. But with so many products to choose from – how do you choose the perfect intranet in a box for you?
A recent report from Clearbox Consulting is a good place to start to get an idea of what’s functionally available, comparing over 26 SharePoint intranet in a box providers on their core functionality. We are so proud to see Unily at the top of the pack in the UK and the US.
So, will this help you to determine the best intranet in a box for you? It’s unlikely. Because the perfect intranet in a box doesn’t exist.
To provide your employees with a solution that’s going to truly add value and empower users to work the way they want, you need to start looking OUT of the box.
Finding the right intranet solution is about more than just great functionality. Of course, the ability to publish news, have two way conversations, access on your mobile is all important, but it’s only as important as far as it addresses a business need. As your business needs change, can your intranet solution keep up?
Start with why
Before considering what intranet solution is right for you, think about why you’re embarking on the project and don’t get hung up on features to start with. Don’t think short-term; consider whether it will it deliver the business results you’re looking for both today and in three-years time? Will it have moved on, added functionality, adapted to your users, been customized or extended or will it be stuck in 2016? An intranet in a box is only as good as what’s outside of the box. With over 1,000,000 people using our Unily solution every day, we know what really makes the difference:
#1. Product roadmap
A customer driven, innovative roadmap is essential for any intranet as a service solution as your user’s requirements will no doubt change and progress over time. Ensure the product you choose has this mind-set at heart and is constantly working to provide your users with more. Unily has a team of dedicated developers working with our customer base to develop new functionality to drive collaboration and communication forward. In this year alone we’ve released new forms functionality, advanced security permissions,notifications and new email functionality.
#2. Extensibility and integration
Modern intranets have the capacity to be more than just a traditional home for documents and people. They have the potential to be the center of your digital workplace. Ensure your solution has that philosophy at heart, with the capability to integrate and link to external applications. Furthermore, is the architecture extensible with the capability to customize and expand? Unily is built on Microsoft Azure, its flexible infrastructure allowing us to use our traditional consulting skills to quickly and easily develop customizations to meet more unique needs – enabling you to get closer to meeting 100% of your requirements.
#3. User adoption strategy
Your intranet is only as good as the number of people who use and are engaged with it. Implementing a piece of technology is highly unlikely to solve business challenges without a strategy in place to help it to integrate into how your teams work. As part of Unily’s subscription, we offer a complete customer success package, with adoption at heart. We work with you to assess your initial business requirements and match Unily’s functionality to how you work best. Post-deployment, you’re supported by an expert team to help you understand your analytics and improve your tactics to drive better adoption.
#4. Global scale with local support
As is the nature with any product, sometimes you encounter questions or queries. When these arise, ensure you’re being supported by a local support team. This new way of delivering intranets has opened the door for brand new software providers to push their services. With the market only a few years old, a sufficient support infrastructure is sometimes not in place or in the locations that you need it.
#5. Provider experience and solution maturity
The intranet in a box market has gone a long way to make intranet projects more accessible to teams outside of IT, with projects now commonly run by Internal Communications or HR teams. But don’t be fooled, intranet projects are still complex and take time and commitment to drive real adoption. Particularly if you’re a large enterprise with a diverse range of users. It’s essential that the product you’re working with has backing from a provider with experience under its belt, a proven customer base with clients of your size and dedicated development, consulting and support teams.
Don’t look for features, look for the end result
Start by coming to terms with the fact that an intranet in a box will never be enough. Your team need an intranet that’s moving forwards, supported by an organization that’s progressive and innovate. Don’t look for features, look for the end results. In the world of intranets, that means end-user adoption. After-all, if consumers bought smart phones based on the number of check-boxes in tables of features alone then it is likely that iPhone would not have been the success story it has and Apple would not be one of the most valuable companies in the world
To purchase Clearbox Consulting’s intranet in a box report, visit their website.