What three features do users expect in a modern intranet?

The release of SharePoint 2013 has many IT managers pondering the benefits of upgrading their various SharePoint systems. In truth many 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 and SharePoint Online offers a host of new features that could be used in intranet 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 on the expectation and requirements of your employees?

From our consultants’ extensive experience the three most important features a user expects to see in a new company intranet are:

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 networking element to the intranet

‘Social’ on the best 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 Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer has led to a core level integration being possible in Unily between content, functions and Yammer’s social tools.

3. Intranet integration

Users are now comfortable in a world where their iPhone connects to their Facebook account, they photos are sync’ed between all their devices and they expect to be able to move between business systems with the same degree of fluidity. This means ‘single sign on’ access should be seen as the norm to remove the need for users to separately login to the intranet and different systems. Good intranets can make use of user management and authentication systems already in place to make system use easy, and at the same time keep data secure.

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