A dear friend and computer science professor recently passed along a fascinating take on “the Experience Age.” This came on the heels of a dinner where we discussed how the gen-X and older among us value the accumulation of information and data (see: Facebook… What happened one year ago? Here’s a photo to prove it!) whereas millennials are more likely to live comfortably in the transience of Snapchat and Twitter.

What does this mean for how we should work together?

SharePoint is a lot of things but got its street cred as a platform for document management. This is the functionality that really appeals to the workforce from “the Information Age,” as it contains all the artifacts and decisions and proof of productivity at individual, team, committee, and business unit levels. It allows for notifications and approvals and routing of decisions with audit trails galore. It says for us, “Hey, I figured out this thing, and here’s my legacy.” It shows site usage and content sprawl. It is information nirvana for those of us who are into that.

But what about keeping pace with the agile workplace, with employees who are using kanbans to manage tasks, permanence dashed with sticky notes and shifting priorities. Those who want less documentation, fewer spreadsheets, 15-minute (and yet minute-less) meetings in hallways. Those who make decisions upon the click of a button for business intelligence. Where is the bridge between information and experience in SharePoint?

SharePoint makes content authoring so easy, and that’s where it begins… but that’s just functionality. People committed to an organization, to its values, its customers, its success, are needed for quality content. Engagement is needed for experience. The human layer—the “social intranet”—is the bridge in SharePoint. Unlike social media, which chronicles experiences, a social intranet creates a space for actually doing the work. It is an ideal platform for both the gatherers of information and for the in-the-now solutionists.

When we were designing our intranet, these were our 5 basic requirements, all focused on engagement:

1. Create space for communications from leadership/decision-makers, the “top down” stuff all organizations need. This may seem more passive than engaging, but that’s not the case when leadership requests a call to action. We centralize these comms on our intranet’s home page. Here are some examples:

  • Don’t forget to elect benefits/coverage. The deadline is next Friday. Click here for more information.
  • Here is our list of paid holidays for the year.
  • We got a new CEO! Learn more about her here!
  • Our time management system is changing. Training is mandatory. Click here to sign up.
  • Safety is always our focus. Click here for top tips in the field.

2. Empower department leaders to author and share targeted information and engage in a way that provides value to an organization. We created a department page layout to fill this need. By “targeted information,” we mean a thousand things; among them:

  • We hired a new analyst. He starts Friday. Be sure to stop by the accounting hub and tell him hello!
  • Here’s our team. Here’s what we do. Let us know how we can help you.
  • Need to open a ticket for IT? click here.
  • Refer to this policy and procedure library for corporate standards. It’s always available.
  • We are doing awesome things. Our newest customer is thrilled with the service we provided. Click here for a sneak-peek of their testimonial before we blast on social media. Have feedback? Share it in the comments.

3. Give teams space to collaborate, be productive, and facilitate work in progress. This is pretty straightforward. These are project sites, open only to the team members who need access to it, with features such as:

  • Lists for tasks and updates
  • Task timelines
  • Discussion boards
  • Team calendars
  • Document review and comments

4. Make it look slick, so that people use it. Brand it so it has the personality and values of the company it represents.

5. Exploit the repetition and consistency of SharePoint to create an intuitive and navigable user experience. Communication is easier if the author follows the same steps for posting every update and the reader knows where and when to find it. Work is easier if you know what to expect from every project site for every project. Surfacing information is easier if you harness the power of content crawling for search.

A branded intranet with collaboration space combines the best of information and experience, which is why we think everyone needs one. Knowledge management, engagement, a place to do the work. These are the benefits a SharePoint intranet has to offer, if it’s done right. If you need some help with that, I know a guy.

Thanks for reading!


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