The Future of Valo Intranet in Modern SharePoint

There was an obscure period in the life of SharePoint a couple of years back. That was when the product didn’t seem to evolve, the integration with Yammer never happened… Even the name of SharePoint was changed to Sites!

There was a time when the whole SharePoint community was shouting: “Yammer is dead!”

Those were also difficult times for intranet products based on SharePoint and Yammer, such as Valo Intranet; when shopping for a new intranet solution, many customers looked at other CMSs than SharePoint. Adding many different platforms in the portfolio has its problems, so many customers were wishing for Microsoft to “get a grip” with SharePoint.

However, now Microsoft is back on track, and we can say that we are definitely past the medieval times. The 4th of May event in 2016 kicked off the renaissance, and the 16th May event in 2017 has confirmed to many of us that Microsoft is serious about this. SharePoint is alive and well again. Microsoft reported that “in the last year, usage of SharePoint has grown 90 percent, content stored has grown 300 percent and more than 10 million new SharePoint sites have been created.”

There are already lots of wrap-ups and analyses of the features Microsoft announced in this year’s “May event”. In this post, we will focus on what these announcements mean to Valo Intranet.

Newsflash: Yammer is not dead

At last, Yammer is back in the spotlight, and integrating with Office 365 and SharePoint!

Since Yammer has been the weapon of choice for social collaboration in Valo for many years already, this is a very natural step forward to us. We know the Yammer interfaces like the backs of our hands. We’ve developed lots of intelligent entry points between SharePoint and Yammer, such as the Announcements and Praises web parts, and integrating Yammer seamlessly into the workspaces.

The ability to integrate third-party apps to Yammer will surely be a great feature for many. So will the dynamic memberships.

Embedding a Yammer group in a SharePoint page still seems a bit too complicated for me. In Valo, we have a more streamlined process for that, and we will continue developing it further.

Read about Microsoft’s Yammer updates here.

Read our own love letter to Yammer here.

The Forms & Workflows story

At last, Microsoft is filling the form & workflow void! We have waited for this for a long time. We got the first glimpse of Flow and PowerApps two years ago. Back then, it was promising but still with some serious shortcomings. And this year, we are seeing a really mature set of tools.

Unlike some competing products, Valo Intranet doesn’t have its own form editor. And this is nicely in line with Microsoft’s roadmap now. Valo does come with a handful of ready-made forms for business processes: Holiday application, expense claim, and so on. Our partners and customers can take advantage of Microsoft’s Flow and PowerApps and customize these forms to fit every business’s unique need. Without writing a single line of code.

Here’s a video about Microsoft’s business apps Flow and PowerApps.

The new sharing capabilities – on par with Dropbox?

Let’s face it – DropBox beats SharePoint and Onedrive hands down, when it comes to easy file sharing and accessing files with different devices. At least that’s what we’ve used to thinking. With this new wave of great updates by Microsoft, I think customers should have another look at the platform. You’ll be surprised.

What’s in it for Valo Intranet? Our product is based on SharePoint, so all the intranet documents are in SharePoint and/or OneDrive. These updates will make the whole intranet experience better and will surely boost the adoption of the productivity tools in the Microsoft platform.

Collaboration and the “what to use when” question

Microsoft has now enabled connecting SharePoint team sites with other Office 365 content and services. You can insert a SharePoint page as a tab in Microsoft Teams. They have streamlined the navigation to group resources across Office 365.

Read more here.

These are all great advances, but we still feel that Microsoft isn’t addressing the what to use when question that so many of our customers are asking. Users need a clear overview of all their collaboration solutions. Some might be using Teams, others Planner, some SharePoint… Which tool to use when? And many companies need a managed process for creating new collaboration places. Valo Intranet has an answer to all that. The answer is the new Teamwork 2.0 solution that we announced in our Valo Partner Summit earlier this month.

Valo Teamwork 2.0 is the ultimate answer to the “what to use when” question.

Communication Sites – the Intranet-In-A-Box by Microsoft?

In the Virtual Summit Microsoft announced the Communication Sites for SharePoint – a template for beatiful, dynamic sites for reaching larger audiences.

Is this your ready-made intranet?

In the article linked above, note this:

Q: How do communication sites compare to intranet sites based on the classic SharePoint publishing infrastructure?

A: Communication sites are complimentary to the sites and portals you’ve built using the SharePoint publishing infrastructure. The publishing infrastructure continues to be supported both on-premises and online. Communication sites are out-of-box sites you can use for internal campaigns, reports, product launches, and other scenarios that address broad audiences across the organization. Communication sites are easy to create: they require no code or design expertise. Simply point-and-click to add pages and parts. Communication sites are mobile-ready by default, looking great across browsers and devices, and in the SharePoint mobile app. For scenarios that go beyond those supported by communication sites today, Microsoft’s vibrant partner community has great expertise and offers services and tools that can help you build your mobile, intelligent intranet with SharePoint in Office 365.

In other words, Microsoft doesn’t position the Communication Sites as the Corporate Intranet, but rather a template for campaigns and such.

In any case, there is a lot of good stuff here. We can’t wait to get our hands on the new templates to see up to what extent they fulfill our customers’ needs and how we can leverage these tools to take our product into a new level. Who knows, the Communication sites might be enough for a small business intranet. But for what we know now – and without having hands-on experience with the Communication Sites yet – companies that value any of the following features should look at an intranet product such as Valo:

  • Navigation structure,
  • Corporate news,
  • Content targeting,
  • Multilingual Intranets,
  • Multiple User Interface options
  • Corporate branding, including a company-branded mobile app
  • Collaboration: Easy access to all Office 365 tools, managed provisioning
  • SharePoint on-premises intranets.

…and lots of other ready-made features such as internal job market, classifieds, idea management, etc. etc. And all those features are automatically deployed and configured in Valo Intranet, meaning that you can truly start using your Intranet from day one, without having to be a SharePoint expert, let alone a coder.

Valo Intranet is a great example of a product fully leveraging the capabilities of the Office 365 platform to deliver a quality intranet experience for our joint customers.

Rob Howard
Director, Office 365 Ecosystem, Microsoft

Other recent Microsoft updates, and how Valo loves them

It is also worth noting that the previously announced updated of Modern SharePoint are already being embraced by Valo:

  • You can use so-called modern lists and libraries instead of the classic ones,
  • You can create modern pages,
  • You can create and access modern team sites.
Before and after. Valo Intranet is 100% compatible with the modern document libraries in SharePoint. As soon as the modern experiences allow for more branding and other improvements, we will be the first to embrace them.

…and beyond!

We want to continue providing our customers a modern, beautiful Intranet that is full of features and can be deployed in minutes. We are in line with Microsoft’s product roadmap, constantly evaluating the latest features and tools available in the platform. We love the way the Microsoft platform is evolving right now, and we believe that everyone benefits from this.

 

Valo Intranet applies the latest web trends and provides a corporate Intranet that looks amazing and adheres to Microsoft best practices.

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