The Modern Digital Workplace for Microsoft 365

11 August 2021 | fluroltd

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Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the heart of many businesses. The cloud-based suite of applications is designed to help us work more productively and efficiently.

It allows groups and individuals to communicate and collaborate; through conversations, calls and hosting meetings inside Teams; whilst working together co-authoring in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. And because it’s all stored in the cloud, along with your data, you can access it at home, in the office or on the go.

Behind the scenes there is a vast array of tools available to power users, content curators, and administrators, to ensure the user experience is valuable, consistent, secure and enjoyable!

Applications like SharePoint and the Power Platform are often undervalued and under-utilised, but they are vital tools to creating a truly valuable and engaging digital employee experience.

As with all Microsoft products, the entire suite of tools is rigorously tested for security and other threats to keep your data and content, safe and sound.

The Modern Digital Workplace

Improved employee experience and wellbeing

How we work across the physical and the digital has changed; the line between the two has blurred and we are all too familiar with the challenges this brings. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to use the right tools and technologies so you can connect the operational needs of your business with the heartbeat of your company: its people.

Effective collaboration and communication

Create a unified experience. Empower your team to innovate, create and collaborate by equipping them with the tools and technologies needed for easy access to apps, sites, services, information, and documents from anywhere, any time and on any device.

Frictionless management of information and data

Tackle the issues of distributed teams, hybrid workforces, multiple devices and complex security issues in an evolving landscape. Re-imagine your business processes with a simplified and intelligent approach to workplace management by utilising the power of the cloud.

Enterprise-grade security

Microsoft’s end-to-end secure workplace capabilities leverage the most powerful security features in the Microsoft 365 productivity suite, including Identity and Access Management, Advanced Threat Protection and End Point Management. This means your business and your people can operate within a secure environment that adapts to evolving threats and future disruptions.

Technology for Hybrid Working: Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the modern toolkit for unified communications, collaboration, and productivity; effectively supporting hybrid and remote working.

This intelligently interconnected ecosystem provides an intuitive experience for your end users while ensuring scalability and resilience for your business.

The core elements of the modern digital workplace are represented in the diagram below.

How does Microsoft Viva fit in?

Microsoft Viva evolves the digital workplace

Office-based employees have faced great disruption to their working day; getting things done, finding information, making connections, and even taking breaks, have all fundamentally changed and things are not going back to the “old normal”.

Initially focusing on four new apps, Microsoft brings learning, knowledge, wellbeing, and the intranet, directly into the Teams user-interface to provide insight without breaking context.

Learning

Designed to promote learning as a natural part of the day, bringing available training materials, courses and integrations with 3rd party content providers into Teams.

Topics

Among other services, Viva Topics provides a knowledge base created using AI and weaving key topics across conversations, emails and content pages.

Insights

Provides employees with a dashboard summarising actions, collaborators and recommendations for scheduling focus time [booking time in Outlook, muting notifications].

Connections

Viva Connections brings the SharePoint Intranet into Microsoft Teams, maximising the value that, organisations invested in SharePoint, can realise.

Microsoft Viva re-imagines a browser-based, digital workplace experience, into a truly integrated employee experience.

How does Fresh, the modern intranet, fit into the Microsoft Modern Digital Workplace?

Fresh creates the middle-ground between a bespoke SharePoint Intranet and a 3rd party OEM solution.

Steeped in 20 years’ experience of creating intranets, and built on the Microsoft suite of tools, Fresh combines an up to date, best-practice SharePoint Intranet, with custom components, frameworks, approaches and services for both setup and on-going management.

Fresh provides organisations, and employees, with everything they need to utilise and evolve their Microsoft 365 digital workplace.

A best practice SharePoint Intranet

Repeatable architectures and frameworks that enable quick setup of the structure, tools, sites and pages needed for a modern SharePoint Intranet, 100% ready for the Microsoft roadmap.

Stays Fresh with regular updates

A combination of communications and guidance on Microsoft components with new customisations built and influenced by client requests, new Microsoft developer capabilities, and the wider digital workplace market.

Managed customisations

Web parts, components and other customisations commonly requested across our network of clients. Designed for enhanced user experience, depth of functionality and integrations to 3rd party solutions.

On-going success

Successful solutions are greater than the sum of their tech, and its implementation, which is why we embed client success managers in each of our clients. This is our commitment to keeping customers informed, up to date and successful with Fresh, and the associated Microsoft applications and services.

If your organisation wants a ‘Fresh take’ on employee experience, and leverage your investment in Microsoft 365, then Fresh is the answer.

Should you buy a ready-made intranet or build one in SharePoint?

This is a common question asked by many organisations looking to move away from a tired, stale intranet to a more modern solution.

Buying an off-the-shelf intranet solution can feel like a good option to accelerate its deployment, but with so many options available, just picking the right one can feel like an overwhelming task. Building an intranet in SharePoint might be desirable but with so many complexities in one platform, where do you get started?

Which model is best for you?

Custom-built intranets have been around for years. They have found success in businesses of all sizes, across many industries. With the advancement of the cloud, however, the ready-to-go intranet model has emerged on the scene.

There are various benefits and drawbacks.

A ready-made intranet

Ready-made intranets offer quick deployment and are generally tightly focused on the job at hand – just being an intranet. This choice generally requires little input from IT, with content curation and management systems tending to be user-friendly.

However, ready-made intranets usually offer little scope for customisation and may not integrate with your identity management or other technology platforms, which can be very frustrating and cause delays during implementation and launch. If you do want to make changes, customise your intranet or just get support, you’ll need to stick with your original vendor.

Building a SharePoint intranet

Alternatively, custom-built intranets provide you with complete control. You can identify the exact features your business needs to be more efficient, and, with industry standard options for integration or out-of-the-box applications for workflows, forms, data and reporting, you’ll be able to find a solution for every requirement.

However, configuring, developing and deploying a custom- built Intranet can be incredibly time-consuming with a reliance on technical expertise either in your IT department or an external professional services vendor. Implementation time can be considerable and making decisions with so many options available can be difficult.

The Fresh alternative

Having seen first-hand, the difficulties customers can face when making these choices, we’ve invested time and energy into ensuring Fresh provides the best of both worlds.

Fresh is built on best practices for SharePoint and Office 365 so we can guide you through the difficult early decisions without shutting the door to future extensions and the need to scale. All the while providing similar custom experiences that make ready-made intranets so attractive.

Ready-made, build your own or a Fresh take?

Pros and cons from a project perspective.

Ready-madeCustom builtFresh
Technology implementationIn weeks.In months.Fresh Go provides a quick, repeatable templated approach, while Fresh Explore provides scope for deeper planning.
Deployment costLow, typically built into per user fees structure. May require additional partners.High, customisation, configuration and set up is typically extensive.Low, repeatable deployment model is used to reduce investment required in the technology.
Technical riskVariable, typically based on number of users.Variable, depending on internal and external skills.Low, utilises best practise SharePoint with managed customisations and support provided.
Business riskMedium, support and hosting required. Data storage and processing, identity and security.Variable, depending on internal and external skills. Outcome can be unknown.Low, on-going expertise and support to provide knowledge and resilience.
Flexibility Variable, depends on vendor’s attitude to changes and ability to deliver on-going services.High, can deliver to your specification though not always a good idea.Good, able to build around Fresh in SharePoint. Core product changes can be requested
On-going support and successVariable, depends on the vendor’s provision for these services.Variable, depending on internal and external skills.Good, both services included in the fees.

Why is a SharePoint intranet better than a standalone application?

With over a million companies worldwide using Office 365, and 140,000 daily active users in Microsoft Teams, it’s obvious that a lot of businesses are invested in Microsoft 365 technologies and migrating people, content, applications, and services into the Microsoft Cloud.

The combination of communication and collaboration tools, alongside feature-rich applications and services, means that Microsoft 365 is increasingly becoming the centrepiece of the modern digital workplace.

Building on this trusted software, not fighting with it, Fresh provides required functions and services needed to ensure long-term success of your employees’ experience.

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