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November 2018

Build a Modern Intranet with SharePoint and Office 365

By SharePoint online updates

Microsoft Ignite 2018 introduced a host of impressive new innovations in Enterprise Content Management and collaboration, for empowering organisations to better engage their employees, inspire their teams to collaborate on content in new ways, and give employees easy access to the information they need to just get stuff done. Below is a selection of our top announcements from the week.

Modern Communication Root Site

Perhaps one of the biggest changes for intranets in SharePoint Online is the news that the root site will now be a modern communications site by default, creating a designated single communications site as the default news portal for their organisation. Organisation-wide news can now easily be promoted and shared in SharePoint, with a special indicator to quickly identify which posts are from the official news portal, for efficient and engaging corporate communication. In the words of Mark Kashman “Start the root off right, and the rest of your intranet will grow and flourish off of it”.

Homepage Personalisation

A key enhancement announced this year is the personalisation of the intranet homepage. Utilising AI powered web parts and data from the Office Graph, the improved intranet homepage can be tailored to each user, showing organisational news, enterprise content, personal tasks, meetings, emails, recent sites and documents – all out of the box. This is a critical step in turning the corporate intranet into every employee’s daily go to environment for a tailored, at-a-glance overview of their day, and will doubtless be instrumental in driving employee engagement.

Further, with audience targeting, you now have the ability to better control which news articles and pages appear on your homepage, or for individual users, by configuring what will be made visible to specific groups. This ensures that each user’s experience is unique and relevant to their role.

Mega Menus and Site Footers

Another keenly sought improvement to be announced is the introduction of mega menu and site footer options for SharePoint intranet sites. The new megamenu options allow for multiple levels of hierarchy at once, to help you to better organize and showcase the related content and sites associated under that hub site. Users want to be able search the intranet easily and find information quickly, and this improvement is sure to be a winner with corporate teams and Information Architects alike – delivering the functionalities users want most with no need for custom code. While this function is only site specific at the moment, it’s safe to assume that global navigation is on its way in the near future.

Brand Consistency

Intranets are ideal spaces for companies to communicate their corporate identity organisation-wide, and with the introduction of new features such as the ability to create page design layouts, associate a central asset library of approved images, and add background colours to sections, the intranet can become a place to tell visually compelling stories while ensuring that brand consistency is maintained. Again, all this without the need for any custom code.

Hub Site Enhancements

Hubs are powerful tools for organising your intranet, connecting communication with collaboration and delivering a complete and dynamic overview of your project or department. New capabilities announced at Ignite include the much-requested events web part roll up – which allows you view a roll up overview of events across associated sites at the hub site level – and the ability to create associated sites from within hub site itself. The management of hub sites has also been simplified, as you can now create, associate, disassociate, and report on hub sites in the SharePoint admin centre in Office 365.

Back in May, Microsoft announced their vision for enabling communicators to distribute the right information to the right audiences at the right time, since a successful intranet is one which engages its users by creating a source of dynamic, useful and engaging content. The announcements from Microsoft Ignite 2018 pertaining to modern intranets in SharePoint and Office 365 have revealed a whole host of enhancements and improvements that prove that SharePoint is confidently driving itself to the forefront of the intranet game.

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