Do you really need an “Intranet-in-a-box” solution for SharePoint?

by | Jul 16, 2019 | Blog, Lifecycle Management, Office 365 Governance

Office 365 Overload

There appears to be an influx of Intranet-in-a-box products for SharePoint, not surprising considering SharePoint dominates the corporate intranet market and the fact that the out-of-the-box SharePoint features and functionality never quite meet everybody’s wants and needs.

Over the last 18 months there has been significant change in SharePoint, specifically SharePoint Online, most significantly Modern Sites and Pages. These enable possibilities with SharePoint that are more like other content management systems such as WordPress. Let’s not beat about the bush, WordPress has a lot more flexibility and a vast ecosystem of plugins to enhance its functionality making it hard to beat, but it is ultimately only a CMS, not a collaboration platform.

In addition to Modern Sites & Pages, Microsoft also recently introduced the concept of Hub sites along with the new Collaboration and Communication site templates and the rolling out of the mega-menu. It makes you wonder if an “Intranet-in-a-box” is really required any more?

With so many enhancements the Intranet in-a-box vendors have been forced to think of new ways to make their products more appealing and cost effective. One way they have done this is with so-called chat-bots and Artificial Intelligence – what this means I’ll cover in another post.

Identity Crisis?

Even though SharePoint was originally marketed as a document management system, Microsoft weaved its content management system into the product more than a decade ago with the aim of creating a ‘one size fits all’ DMS/CMS for customers. The integration wasn’t as smooth as many had hoped with neither feature set really delivering on the promises made creating today’s market opportunity for growth in the Intranet-in-a-box space.

Unquestionably, Intranet-in-a-box products provide value for many customers, but I would avoid rushing out to buy one without fully appreciating what SharePoint can now provide. I would advise any customer to first make use the out-of-the-box functionality, to fully explore it and understand the art of the possible. Treat this advice as if you were trying to build a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). If it doesn’t suit your needs, then at least you know why, have not spent unnecessarily and will have a great idea of what you want from an Intranet-in-a-box solution.

There are some fantastic Intranet-in-a-box products out there. They often provide an engaging, fit for purpose solution and are worth investigation, but don’t rush in without consideration for what you can achieve using the native tools and experience.