Cloud-based software delivery models are quickly becoming the ‘new normal’ in enterprise IT. In a recent survey by analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC), in partnership with Microsoft, only 8% of respondents admitted to being disinterested in adopting cloud solutions. The other 92% are either evaluating, starting to deploy, or wholeheartedly embracing the cloud.
Nowhere is cloud-based architectures more appropriate than in the corporate intranet – often the central nervous system for information within the enterprise. Cloud-based intranets open the doors to bold new ways of working, fluidly connecting individuals and content, and powering ‘anytime, anywhere’ mobility.
Let’s look at how cloud-based Intranets effortlessly solve – with far greater ease than their on-premise counterparts – three of the biggest customer frustrations that we come across each day.
Communication within the Organisation
Traditionally, communication within the organisation has been dealt with by sending bulk emails to broad distribution lists. But while email may have been the ‘killer app’ of the 90s, very few organisations have been able to successfully step away from this tool.
Contrast this with the finely-tuned communication that can be achieved with the Intranet as the communications hub: notifications and messages can be targeted based on location, business area, or date (they can be set to expire after a certain period, for example). They can be pushed to users via in-app messaging on a smartphone, a desktop pop-up, or any other channel that suits the organisation.
Within teams, day-to-day collaboration and workflows can be sharpened by relying less on the traditional ‘email accompanied by attachment’ – where conversations become threaded, nested, splitting into different branches, different versions, and causing massive headaches and wasted time for staff.
With an Intranet-focused approach to daily work activities, all of these inefficiencies disappear. If you consider the Microsoft ecosystem, chats from Yammer or Skype for Business can be integrated alongside hosted versions of key documents, providing context and commentary, and ‘one version of the truth’ for every working file.
This thought leads us into the second most common customer frustration that we’re seeing: fundamental document management.
As organisations look to capture the collective insights of their staff, and package them into formalised structures, cloud-based technologies hold the promise of finally solving the perennial challenge of document management.
Traditionally, many firms have relied on file shares and file servers. Those of us who’ve used an outdated corporate Intranet know only too well how poor the search functionality tends to be – especially when compared to the ease of searching the external Internet. The problem, of course, stems from the limitations of indexing and building taxonomies with file servers.
IDC notes that “the typical knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information”. This is a startling statistic*, and surely one of the most glaring areas of productivity loss for every organisation.
With Cloud-based intranets, every piece of corporate data is essentially transformed into an organically-searchable web page, helping staff find what they’re looking for far more easily.
In fact, it lays the foundation for us to create even smarter ways to sort and search for information – entering a realm we could describe as ‘social business’.
Embracing true Social Business
As we get used to dealing with ever-greater volumes of data, finding smarter ways to sort and find the information you need becomes crucially important. Using the ‘social graph’ principles that have spurred the likes of Facebook and Instagram to incredible heights, the cloud enables new tools such as Microsoft Office Delve.
Now, content is classified according to its social buoyancy: how relevant it is likely to be, based on the way those in your network have been engaging with the content. In the case of Delve, it looks at which documents are accessed by those closest to you in the company, and surfaces personalised content from places like Exchange email, SharePoint, Yammer, and OneDrive for Business.
This kind of advanced social feature is a great example of the way in which the cloud helps organisations take their intranets to a new level – with features that are certainly not available with a traditional on-premise Intranet deployment.
In South Africa, more and more CIOs and CMOs are comfortable with cloud-based delivery models for key aspects of their IT estates.
When it comes to cloud intranets, it’s important to look for a specialist partner that has rich experience in deploying and maintaining corporate intranets, and has created a highly-developed catalogue of ready-to-use components, and has the vision and imagination to make your intranet a success.
By Marc Fletcher, Head of Marketing & Business Development at Intervate, a T-Systems company