Looking for a cloud-based intranet?
I don't know if you've noticed, but the big analyst firms no longer cover what I would call "traditional intranet" solutions anymore. Instead they organise their reviews of software that might fall into this category around discrete capabilities, such as content management, collaboration, and social software. Even Real Story Group - who are known for their heritage in content management software evaluations - now break this space into two different segments for portals and collaboration.
Having spent the last few years watching the market for SharePoint & Office 365 intranet solutions and also conducting the State of the Intranet 2018 survey for CMSWire, I'm reminded that there is still strong demand for intranet suites. These are solutions that deliver more than just an app that focuses on one particular mode of working, like an activity stream, file sharing or real-time collaboration. There is nothing wrong with anchoring your solution around a tool like Slack that can integrate with other apps and services, but in my experience, every workplace is different and has different needs.
At the core of this kind of intranet suite is the ability to publish news and content. But they also include functionality like:
- Document management
- People directory
- Question and answers
- Single sign-on (SSO)
- Teams, group, and project spaces
The better solutions can also offer enterprise-grade hosting (including HIPAA compliance) and can demonstrate quality software development practices (which is why these days I prefer cloud over on-premise).
Now if you are trying to shortlist solutions and want an intranet built on top of SharePoint or Office 365, Clearbox Consulting’s report has you covered (I was one of the contributors to the last two editions).
But what if you are looking for a solution that isn’t based on SharePoint or designed to work only with Office 365?
In the CMSWire survey, we found that use of Microsoft versus other solutions was fairly evenly split, with a small proportion also using a hybrid approach. So the non-Microsoft market is fairly sizable in its own right, although there is an enormous variety of solutions being used, including open source.
Some of the solutions mentioned certainly did come from the list of well known general web content management solutions, such as those found in Gartner's Magic Quadrant, but there were a whole lot more that don't. Plus there are many others I know that didn't show up in the survey. And as many of the general web content management tools spin off into becoming digital experience platforms, I see a divergence between those that have a bias towards supporting customer experience versus those designed specifically for the employee experience.
After a while researching options, it may start to look like there are too many choices or too many tools with overlapping features to choose from. But while there is range of factors around features and functionality to take into account when selecting an intranet suite, with my years of experience working with different intranet and collaboration tools I know that it actually takes more than a software shortlist to successfully implement a cloud-based intranet.