As we step into 2024, there are three trends that are set to shape your SharePoint intranet in the year ahead.
With workplace dynamics continually changing, the tech underpinning your Microsoft 365 digital workplace is poised for a radical transformation too.
Expect generative AI in the form of Copilot to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of your SharePoint intranet.
Yet a word of warning, rubbish in, rubbish out. So, to get the best out of Copilot, or any AI tool, you’ll need to get your house in order.
Ensuring good governance might not be the most exciting part of your role, but it is right on trend. A well governed intranet will lay the foundations for what’s ahead.
With remote and hybrid work models bedding-in, it’ll fall on you to make your SharePoint intranet more user-centric.
Providing an intuitive and engaging user experience, where colleagues can access personalised news, relevant content and resources, will be key and where Viva Connections fits in.
So, if it’s your job to stay ahead of the SharePoint intranet curve, this is the blog for you.
With smarter, more interactive intranets on the way in 2024, let’s delve into how you can transform yours into a dynamic, future-ready tool.
Infuse AI inside your SharePoint intranet
Estimates suggest that employees spend 1.8 hours every day – that’s 9.3 hours per week, on average – searching and gathering information from their intranet. That’s nearly 25% of their working week.
AI took the world by storm in 2023. It was a year marked by the widespread popularity of ChatGPT, the launch of Microsoft’s Copilot, and the rise of ‘generative AI’ from obscurity to a mainstream phenomenon.
For all the chatter, very few people were using it. Let alone in the context of a SharePoint intranet. Yet, in 2024 that is set to change.
According to Microsoft the future of SharePoint is AI, with Copilot at its core.
With users adding 200 petabytes of data in the form of documents, lists, pages, videos to SharePoint every month, that’s a lot of content to manage without a bit of help.
The integration of AI is not just about enhancing your SharePoint intranet, it’s about paving the way for a smarter way of working.
It’s about taking a step towards a more connected, efficient and innovative workplace.
Expect AI to underpin personalised experiences, improve search and automate content management. It will also enable you to introduce chatbots and virtual assistants for common or routine enquiries and tasks.
Copilot in SharePoint will be a game-changer. The AI assistant will simplify content creation. Allow you to write SharePoint pages using natural language. Plus, help you to set up a new site, populate it with initial content and apply your branding to the new pages.
But you don’t need to wait for your organisation to pay for the Copilot licenses to take advantage of the latest AI tech in your SharePoint intranet.
If you’re a Fresh Intranet customer, the latest AI assistant FreshMind comes as standard. Built using Microsoft Azure OpenAI services, like Copilot, FreshMind accesses OpenAI’s powerful large language models including the GPT-4.
Designed specifically to address intranet use cases with AI-tailored solutions, FreshMind will help you complete specific tasks within your intranet scenarios such as creating descriptions, summaries, translations, categorising content, providing keywords/metadata, title suggestions and people search.
FreshMind can easily be adapted to meet specific comms tasks including but not limited to image and word content generation and improving search.
Good intranet governance is your secret sauce
Good governance is the backbone of a successful SharePoint intranet.
If your data is not organised, structured or correctly tagged in the backend or if your data is outdated and sits in silos, it’s likely your search experience will suck.
And we hate to break it to you, if you introduce AI into your intranet, your Copilot experience will too.
Make 2024 the year you work with your IT admin to set clear policies for content management, data usage and user behaviour to ensure consistency across your SharePoint intranet.
Have IT introduce role-based access controls – defining end user roles and permissions to protect sensitive information and to maintain data integrity.
Introduce a content lifecycle management policy that automatically archives or deletes old content.
And together with IT, conduct regular audits to ensure that any issues are quickly identified and addressed, to help keep your intranet secure and compliant.
At the end of 2023, Microsoft launched ‘SharePoint Premium’ which promised to help make SharePoint governance a lot easier.
The newly updated version of SharePoint with its “Data Access Governance” (DAG) solution will give you a top-level view of over-shared sites, filed by sharing policy, sensitivity labels and privacy.
Designed to prepare your SharePoint environment for the AI capabilities that come with Copilot, SharePoint Premium will help you to get your house in order.
Introducing AI into your SharePoint intranet without good, secure governance could inadvertently open you up to data breaches—exposing confidential information or violating data privacy regulations.
Aside from best practice, good governance helps maintain the accuracy, relevance and quality of the content that feeds search and into AI systems, ensuring it provides valuable and reliable outputs/results for end users.
Introducing Fresh’s governance features into your intranet, you can start improving your data quality immediately.
With Fresh Intranet’s governance components in place, you can keep an overview of your site’s content and set a review date for each piece too.
You can create reactive and proactive content management processes that will help you keep your documents and content pages accurate.
For example, (reactive) use Fresh’s feedback form to collect end user feedback on content pages in your intranet or (proactive) leverage automation to notify content owners regularly about content due for review to ensure your content remains accurate over time.
Viva Connections will become the new front door to your SharePoint intranet
An integral part of the Microsoft Viva suite, Viva Connections is a dynamic interface that displays or surfaces content from around Microsoft 365, such as Microsoft Feed, SharePoint news, and using Fresh videos from Stream and Viva Engage posts, all in a single pane of glass within Microsoft Teams.
Badged as an ‘employee experience platform’ it will become centre stage in your Microsoft 365 environment in the year ahead, with Microsoft investing heavily in its functionality.
With its deep integration into SharePoint sites, pages and content, employees can easily access relevant information, news and resources through their Viva Connections personalised dashboard in Microsoft Teams.
Designed to elevate SharePoint’s user experience, Viva Connections is available on desktop or mobile, expanding the reach of your SharePoint intranet and its content to all users, including those traditionally hard to engage, like frontline workers.
Rather than a new channel to publish content on, with the exception of Viva Announcements, see it as one-stop-shop to surface information and a place to enhance employee engagement.
As an admin you have the capability to tailor what appears on end users’ Viva Connections homepage, News Spotlight and dashboard by targeting and boosting content taken from across the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.
Leveraging Fresh’s capabilities, you can use the Viva Connection cards to surface your intranet content and news on your end users’ Viva Connections homepage.
Fresh currently has the following five Viva Connections cards available to choose from: ‘Page’, ‘Tool’, ‘My Data’, ‘Alert’ and ‘Search’, with eight additional cards under development.
Look out for the ‘Curated Page’, ‘Event’, ‘What’s New’, ‘Document’, ‘Curated Documents’, ‘Viva Engage Conversations’, ‘Viva Engage Communities’ and ‘Videos’ cards coming to in early 2024.
With 2024 marking the start of a new chapter for SharePoint intranets, you’re standing on the cusp of the next evolution in digital workplace technology.
By embracing AI integration, prioritising good governance and leveraging tools like Viva Connections, you’ll be able to transform your staid SharePoint intranet into something more dynamic and future-ready that your colleagues will love using.