SharePoint is the Preferred Intranet Platform for Enterprises

SharePoint is the platform of choice for enterprise intranetsThe Nielsen Norman Group, a User Experience (UX) research, training, and consulting company based out of Fremont, California, has released their 373-page Intranet Design Annual report, providing comprehensive case studies on the current trends and challenges of designing and building intranets. The company fields hundreds of nominations from the community, and SharePoint is the platform of choice for enterprise intranets selects the top 10 best intranet designs based on design and usability, reviewing everything from integration of social features and connecting to commercial social sites to role-based personalization and mobile optimization. It is the most comprehensive study and report of its kind, highlighting the annual trends in the space to help companies improve the usability — and business benefit – of their internal portals. You can read about this year’s top 10 intranets here.

According to Nielsen Norman Group, the 10 best-designed intranets for 2013 are:

  • Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.
  • American International Group, Inc.
  • AT&T
  • Hager Group
  • Luzerner Kantonalbank AG
  • ONO
  • Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)
  • Swiss Mobiliar Insurance & Pensions
  • WorkSafeBC
  • XL Group plc

For me, three things stand out in the summary of this year’s data:

First is the increasing focus on social integration. While the trend toward social in the enterprise is nothing new, it is one area where forecasts and predictions have clearly been matched with deployment reality. Organizations are beginning to pay attention to the feeds and activities coming through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as channels for communication — both inbound and outbound — with customers and partners, as well as between employees inside and outside of the firewall. While concerns around security, compliance, and governance remain for these tools, companies are foraging ahead as productivity gains are made.

Second, the report points to slower-than-expected adoption of mobile optimization solutions. Security and compliance are concerns, but underneath this the hesitance seems to be more around which features and platforms to deploy. While some organizations, such as telecommunications firms, employ a large number of field personnel who can benefit from the development of native mobile apps, most firms have held back on making these kinds of investments as had been predicted, instead making mobile intranet access available to employees.

And finally, the third standout is the prevailing use of SharePoint as the intranet platform of choice, with over 70% of enterprises using Microsoft’s leading technology to create their intranets. In their report summary, they acknowledge that not everything always goes to plan, but highlight some of the areas which have helped the leading SharePoint intranets to be successful, including focusing on usability through things like simplifying the options available through the UI to streamline business activities, maintaining a solid change management and customization process, keeping permissions simple, and making end user education and adoption a part of your SharePoint strategy.

One of the best ways to meet the needs of your own organization is to learn from what others have done. There is some great learning in this report, with case studies across several different industries, that may be informative for those who are struggling with end user adoption, usability, and business process alignment with their intranet platforms.

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