Introducing SharePoint Home Sites

In 2018, Kiefer’s award-winning SharePoint practice was rolled into a larger practice area that we call the Modern Workplace. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Kiefer was seeing Microsoft make changes in how they were approaching digital business transformation and the more ambitious vision they were sharing with Microsoft customers and partners.

As an organization, we decided to align with Microsoft and create a practice group that would help customers leverage technologies like SharePoint, Skype, Teams, Flow, and PowerApps to transform how organizations work together and share information. The Modern Workplace approach is the right one for Kiefer and our clients. It’s been proven that transformation isn’t achieved by deploying a single solution to address a specific business challenge. We have learned that true transformation occurs when you create a culture of digital transformation, leverage a broader set of tools and change how people work and communicate.

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Big news at the SharePoint Conference

Microsoft recently held the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, and it’s clear that Microsoft is fully invested in creating a culture of seamless and unified communication and collaboration in the workplace.

While there were several announcements that were worth discussing in our blog, we wanted to focus on one specific announcement, the introduction of SharePoint Home Sites. This announcement caught the attention of our team. The concept of Home Sites is in line with the vision that many clients have shared with us. This is the kind of stuff that our customers are saying they want.

What are SharePoint Home Sites?

Since we haven’t yet had the chance to kick the tires on SharePoint Home Sites, our team paid close attention to the announcements that were made at the SharePoint Conference.

According to Microsoft, “Microsoft SharePoint Home Sites, a dynamic, engaging, and personalized employee experience for your organization. These innovations power the intelligent workplace, where teams can collaborate and streamline workflows, organizations can engage employees and communicate effectively, and individuals can be more creative and productive with experiences and insights powered by artificial intelligence (AI).”

Images of Microsoft Home Sites
Photo from Microsoft

Our team of SharePoint experts has helped deploy SharePoint sites for small teams, departments and in many cases, the entire enterprise. Over the last few years, SharePoint has become a very powerful and easy to use intranet platform. Since the “Modern Experience” was previewed at the Future of SharePoint event in 2016, Kiefer has helped clients build and deploy several intranets. Home Sites appear to take that SharePoint experience and tailor the experience to the individual, which is something we expected.

What makes Home Sites different than a traditional intranet experience?

According to Microsoft, Home Sites will be able to share relevant news and content to each user based on their role and place in the organization, taking the intranet experience to the next level. This experience connects the user with personalized content, information, and navigation to enable individual productivity.

A home site builds upon the success of the SharePoint communication site and provides organizations to syndicate official news with users, and a portal that gives users a “start” page that uses insights to surface activity across sites, quickly surface documents that you are working on, and a “save for later” view that lets you flag content that you’d like to review at a later date.

Deploying Intranets and Team Sites

Our Modern Workplace team has a lot of experience and expertise in designing, building, and deploying intranets. Building intuitive and useful portals takes time, but deploying sites is much easier than it once was. Power users can do more without code and organizations can customize the site design, brand the out-of-box web parts and design site navigation to reflect the voice and priorities of your organization.

With the introduction of the SharePoint “Modern Experience”, it’s easier to build communication portals and intranet. But, it’s important to first understand how users want their intranet site designed and what considerations you may need to make to ensure that people use it!

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In addition, we recommend that our clients look at the intranet, team sites, communication sites, and even home sites in a larger context. Clients need to ask questions that will help in driving a “Modern Workplace” culture. By creating a “Modern Workplace” culture, you create appetite and capacity for future transformation. These questions include;

  • How do we create (or improve) tools without them being redundant?
  • How do we ensure that the intranet will meet the needs of users?
  • How do we encourage collaboration using a portal as opposed to e-mail?
  • How do we enable collaboration and enforce a single source of truth?

The Modern Workplace Experience

SharePoint is a critical piece of delivering the vision of a Modern Workplace. Microsoft is counting on SharePoint to enable users to connect and collaborate. Once Home Sites are launched, you will be able to add any of the hundreds of third-party applications available in Teams to any SharePoint site and embed solutions built with the SharePoint Framework.

Without a doubt, SharePoint is easier to use now than ever before. We believe that SharePoint is positioned well and will enable innovation and deliver richer experiences for users.

When will we see SharePoint Home Sites?

Microsoft is targeting a rollout of the Home Site capability to Office 365 tenants sometime in third quarter of this year.

Our Modern Workplace Practice brings together the most talented team in the region. We can help your organization leverage SharePoint or assist you in charting a course for digital business process transformation. Check out our recent blog that shares our unique approach for helping clients improve communication, collaboration, and work styles. Contact Kiefer to learn more. Call us at (916) 932-7220.

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