Can you really make your Intranet or Digital Workplace a truly powerful communications tool? You bet. Today's reality is a better intranet/digital experience where employees - no matter where they are working, or what device they are using, see "intranet content" that's relevant for them... but without needing to visit the website commonly known as The Corporate Intranet. 

How could this be, you might ask? Read on.

With Microsoft's ability to display intranet content directly in Teams channels, Yammer Feeds, in Viva cards, emails, search bar or a Windows Alert, communicators are no longer tied to producing content only in a SharePoint intranet page. Not only does the concept of "The Intranet" dramatically expand, but the pathways for reaching employees expand as well.

Here's the big idea.

Employees don't really need to know where information is coming from -- they simply consume relevant content from anywhere within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. They won't know necessarily that the article they are reading is one that you produced. All they know is that it is on their feed and they want to engage with it. This powerful vision eliminates friction, opens up communications channels, and increases engagement.

Read on for more details on why this shift has occurred and steps you can take right now to create a better "intranet" experience.

Wait. Who moved my intranet?

The intranet's role, structure, and very definition of what's considered "an intranet" is changing radically – in four key areas. 

1. Rethinking the definition of content 

Most employee communicators think of content as documents or webpages, but in reality, the world of content has become much more complex.  Today, Teams chats, Yammer Feeds, Viva Cards, SharePoint Lists, Notes, and Stream Videos have become essential forms of content - especially as the number of daily Teams users reaches 250 million (that's a lot of employees!)

It’s important for employee communicators to use not just the intranet as a communications tool, but include all these types of content in their toolbox, and strategically deliver it across multiple channels and devices to maximize reach and engagement.

2. Accessing the same content from many places

Employees no longer need to open the Microsoft Word application to create or edit a Word document. Nor do they need to open up content that’s actually on the intranet in order to see it.

Why has Microsoft changed the way that information is processed? They have some new goals, including the encouragement of third-party plug-ins, the launch of their AppSource Marketplace, increasing available collaborative tools and reducing the need for users to constantly switch applications to get to where they want to go.

We believe that the answer lies in the ability to bring people, processes, and insights together to unlock seamless and secure collaboration and accelerate innovation and learning right in the flow of work. - Microsoft

3. Improving Search - Behind the scenes changes to tags, terms, and meta-data.   

Since it’s very common these days for content to be stored across multiple sites, channels and document libraries, multiple types of content need to be curated or accessed regardless of the source. 

Instead of the traditional, hierarchical information architecture commonly used in older intranets, today's modern intranets use information architectures that are more flat and driven by meta-data

A flat information architecture makes it easier for end-users to find what they are looking for, and opens up opportunities for content publishers to repurpose and curate content outside of the old, rigid structure.

Architecture can also form organically. In Teams, most folder and site architecture will develop organically as new teams are added, and for the most part (beyond the general channel) architecture is defined by the local team.  

Need help figuring this out? Contact Velaku to leverage decades of consulting  services.

As the role of the intranet - as a single channel to access content -  is increasingly replaced by Teams, as well as expanded by all the other Microsoft 365 channels, intranet menu navigation must be vastly simplified, yet expanded and scalable. This streamlines the intranet and makes searching for information easier.

4. Blowing up old perceptions and habits

While intranets have certainly become more sophisticated, easier to access and use over the years, the fact is that they remain perceived by most employees as a corporate-type resource that’s not a part of their daily work.  Microsoft Teams significantly changes this dynamic - connecting employees with 'intranet' content in a seamless manner, directly in the everyday flow of work.  And equally as important, Teams doesn't carry SharePoint's baggage from two decades of reputation as not exactly the easiest to use. While Microsoft has overhauled SharePoint in the past few years, old habits, and engrained perceptions die hard. Teams doesn't have that baggage.

Actions to take:

1. Make your intranet homepage available on Teams. For many content creators, the first place to start is to simply make your current intranet homepage available on Teams. Once you do that....

2. Add Content to Teams: Think about a scenario like employee news. Today that news is probably sent as an email and separately posted on the intranet.  With Teams, that news can now appear in a Teams feed and be syndicated across other intranet sites akin to how sponsored content appears on LinkedIn. 

Learn more about the Syndicate plug-in

3. Create new micro experiences that are embedded directly in Teams, such as important announcements and company news, and curated content that can easily be added as Teams tabs around important topics, such as Returning to the Workplace During Covid-19, or Town Hall meetings. 

At the end of the day, one of the biggest benefits Teams’ brings to the communication table is the means to amplify your messages, to add to your reach with more places to put your content, and to give employees the ability to discover and search more easily.

Installed right inside your Microsoft 365 tenant, Velaku's plug-ins close the gap between Microsoft's out-of-the-box solutions and the needs of your communications team. Contact us for more information or to discuss how to apply any of the concepts in this article. We look forward to helping you!  

"Imagine if employees didn't need to visit the intranet to get intranet content.

Imagine if Microsoft Teams was your new Intranet"

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