Intranets have transformed the way businesses share information internally ever since they started appearing in the mid-1990s.
The original intranets were static web pages. They typically featured information a company wanted to share with employees, such as a list of approved holidays or an employee directory. They were as simple as they were boring, and they required a lot of work to keep up to date.
Twenty years later, intranets still principally serve as a centralized hub of internal company information. However, they have evolved beyond those early, boring, static web pages and become dynamic, customizable systems such as Microsoft’s SharePoint. The features and functionality of modern intranets enable employees to communicate, collaborate and be creative in ways that were previously impossible.
Not surprisingly, intranets are an essential platform for many businesses today, especially large companies. In fact, eight in 10 Fortune 100 companies currently use SharePoint, the most popular intranet. Worldwide, 160 million employees across 75,000 organizations use SharePoint, which made its debut in 2001.
While small-to-medium-size businesses have not embraced SharePoint as readily as their enterprise counterparts, they can realize many of the same competitive advantages larger companies enjoy. In this blog post, I’m going to highlight four of the leading benefits of Microsoft’s newest version of SharePoint, SharePoint 2016:
A proactive company portal
SharePoint operates admirably as a company’s centralized information hub, but it’s greatly expanded its data capabilities, thanks to artificial intelligence. For instance, Delve collects the most relevant content from across all Office 365 apps for a particular employee and displays it on his or her homepage.
For example, if Michelle in marketing has been working on an Excel spreadsheet with her coworkers a lot lately, Delve will display the latest version of the file on her homepage after a colleague has finished working on it. This way, Michelle and her coworkers always have the newest version of a group doc at their fingertips. This saves everyone lots of time and energy as no one needs to email it to Michelle or the rest of the group.
Productivity and business intelligence tools
SharePoint 2016 enables your employees to use and share Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and related program files with each other. But Sharepoint 2016’s connection to Office 365 also allows it to leverage SharePoint Online, which lets employees quickly create team sites and portals so they can collaborate and share information with others, both inside and outside your company in a secure manner.
In addition, SharePoint’s Business Intelligence Center features tools like Power View, which enables employees to combine business data from different Excel files and create their own unique business intelligence. Small businesses have used the resulting business intelligence data to better understand who their customers are and whether a marketing campaign is achieving the desired results or not.
Always-available cloud-based collaboration
With the newest version of SharePoint, your small business’s documents are always accessible to your employees. SharePoint 2016 is hybrid-enabled, allowing an on-premise SharePoint system to connect seamlessly with Office 365.
This means Richard, who is working at home or remotely elsewhere, can use SharePoint 2016 to connect with his employer’s local SharePoint system. This is a great asset for a mobile workforce because he can work anywhere but still be able to access the information his business keeps stored on-premise, such as data it doesn’t want to store in the cloud.
In addition, when documents are stored in OneDrive for Business, they can be accessed on any of your employees’ devices. Plus, with the recent launch of the SharePoint mobile app, your employees can now access and edit Office 365 docs on their phones. It’s because of robust, always-available features like these that nearly 90 percent of enterprises with at least 100 employees use Microsoft cloud-based systems like SharePoint for their day-to-day work.
A money saver
Small, growing companies can benefit enormously from SharePoint, especially during their early years. I know from personal experience. Several years ago a friend started working for a startup, and as it grew from six employees to more than 1,000, it saved a bundle of money thanks to SharePoint. Why? It didn’t have to invest in a private or public cloud, plus the necessary IT staff, to be a cloud-enabled company. Instead, it relied on SharePoint. This let it focus on making the coolest product possible and everyone could still collaborate and share docs and other essential information via SharePoint.
Likewise, if your company uses Microsoft Office, embracing SharePoint is a great way to make the transition to Office 365. Concurrently, if you’re using SharePoint, you should check your client access license. You might already be paying for Office 365 without knowing it. Stranger things have happened.