Office 365 is changing the rules for Intranets

Before Office 365 (O365), when we were asked to build an intranet, we built a SharePoint solution with an inviting home page and some sub sites that promotes team collaboration. Maybe we added in a few interactive features and "Ta-daaa", your intranet was done.

Now, its the game is different, and many of the players don't even realise this. 

An intranet that is using Office 365 is more than just a pre-defined set of pages that has a starting point and set navigation plan that should be used by all. Its use is now dictated by the users, and if done right, no 2 users will experience their Intranet in the same way. 

We all know that O365 has this new, beautiful SharePoint Communications sites, for example, this site can help promote Corporate-Level communication and is typically seen as an ideal Home Page to an intranet, but why force that as the Home Page to everyone? Everyone is different, with different objectives when using the Intranet, why not make the users chose a homepage that best suite their interest?

If they plan to use the intranet to access there web tools quickly, then they could use the O365 Home Page which provides quick access to all their Office tools.  Alternatively, they could use Delve, a O365 tool that provides great insight on what relevant people are doing. Maybe the SharePoint Site Selection page should is a preferred starting point, so they can easily view the sites of the projects that they are currently working on. The rule of having a central home page is gone, and we need to focus on an approach that is more user-centric.

This change in the Intranet rules does not apply to the home page alone. Why force everyone to use Team Sites to collaborate? The end users now have a great selection of tools available to them. Tools like Groups, Teams and Yammer are all available via O365 to promote collaboration through discussions but each tool appeals to different audiences (i.e. some users prefer to engage via email, others via chat) so the one size fits all approach is now the wrong way to handle this.  
Also, previously, if we wanted our Intranet to stream video content from a secure environment, we needed to invest in a dedicated Video Streaming Server, NOW with O365's video service, its easier that ever to load video content. meaning that users are now using their cell phone, record a quick video that promotes some news or corporate interest and quickly sharing it to all via the Intranet. 
Now, thanks to O365 and other cloud services, an intranet is more than just a website, just like a car is more than just an engine, the rules of this game is changing, its less rigid and more user-focused. People are only figuring this out now (if at all), so stop building intranets the way you did 5 years ago, and figure out how the new playing field is removing the restrictions we had before and change your approach before its too late. 


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