Continuing on with my session at the 2012 SharePoint Summit where I did an introductory track on “Major Intranet Trends – What are your Peers Doing for Their SharePoint Intranets?”, I decided to summarize my session. expand on it and make a table with a little bit more information and some reference links for each of the trends that I had identified. 

In my session, we talked a little a bit first on the age old question for Enterprises – should you build the components of your Intranet yourself or buy them from a 3rd party independent software vendor?  This is not an easy question to answer:


  • Faster and Cheaper upfront but is it Less or More cost in the long run?
  • Can we live without that 10% of requirements that can’t be met
  • That last 10% will probably cost 80% of the project if you try and custom develop
  • Support? Updates? New Versions? Compatibility with future SharePoint versions? Overkill for what you need? Bug Fixes?

Custom Development

  • Meet your exact requirements but much longer time to deployment
  • Need in-house developers, may require re-write for future versions
  • Bug fixing, enhancements all in-house, greater control


SharePoint has a very large community of ISV’s with specialized products for LOB applications:

  • Lots of free software out there with the source included
  • (over 1000 SharePoint related projects!)
  • Other ISVs give away free products – web parts, add-ons, etc…


Here is a quick sampling of SharePoint ISV Partner Ecosystem from 2010.  Imagine how many more thousands there are today:




The chart below shows how I have grouped the trends that have been identified:




Intranet Trends List


Category Trend Description
  Anywhere Access Your Intranet needs to be accessible and available EVERYWHERE.  Working from home, travelling for work, working on trains, planes and from client offices.  This is facilitated via VPN, token or secured Extranet access leveraging TMG, UAG or ISA.  Integrating FBA (Forms Based Authentication) and Claims for managing credentials tor external users.
  Mobile Intranet Access Tablets, slates and mobile phones are here to stay and may replace the desktop and laptop soon.  Intranets are not an exception to plan for Mobile access and SharePoint 2010 needs special configuration in order to be accessed externally by mobile phones.  ForeFront UAG and other tools will help facilitate this access.
  Mega-Menus Mega Menus allow quick access to information which might be very deep in the web site without having to do a search and right at your finger tips.  Integrating this with a SharePoint Navigation configuration or a custom list which is managed by your business users makes it easy to manage.  These fly out menus are sectioned off, have all the information visible on one section of the page, sometimes have images and are easily scannable by end-users.
  Surfacing and Rolling Up via Content Queries Content Queries are a mechanism of Implicit search.  Keep you Intranet home and landing pages with fresh content by rolling up information such as News, Announcements, New Documents, People, Most Viewed, etc… from across all of you sub-sites and from multiple sources of information (lists).  This keeps your Intranet fresh and gives people a reason to come back.
  Rolling Up Content across Site Collections SharePoint 2010 does a great job of searching across site collections and rolling up content within 1 site collection but there is some work needed to roll up content into a nice view across all of your site collections.  Use the CoreSearchResults web part to do this or through 3rd party or custom coding.
  Customized Search Results Search results can easily be customized to have your own styles, colors, meta-data and functionality.  You can return only the fields you want to have returned as almost everything is crawled in SharePoint.  Furthermore, using add-ons like FAST, they can include suggestion and thumbnails to enhance user experience.
  People and Expertise Search Using the “Ask Me About” and “About Me” user profile fields through the My Site functionality allows users to put their skills, talent, current responsibilities and expertise’s.  This in turn shows the people search results when searching a term with the Person’s picture and other profile information that you want to show.   You can also directly search and find the people you are looing for by Name, Title or any other metadata field attached to that user and integrate into your Active Directory so that you only have to update all this information in one location.
  Faceted and Refiner Based Search This type of search involves refiners on the left side of the search results page for users to intuitively navigate and quickly trim down the search results by metadata.
  Federated and Multiple Content Source Search This is the concept of searching multiple content searches from one search interface.  You can search file shares, databases or even other web sites for the one term you put in.  SharePoint also has a Federated Search web part which will pull up results in a small panel from another content source (i.e. such as your external Corporate web site)
  Best Bets, Visual Best Bets A best bet can be text based result or a visual representation of a search result that is shown at the top of the page bypassing the relevance engine of SharePoint.  If you as an administrator know that when people are searching a particular term a particular result should stand out, this is where a Best Bet could be used.
  Top Searches and the web analytics web part Use out-of-the-box web analytics web parts to display popular items on a site such as most viewed content and top searches
  Making your Intranet Sites look like an Internet Site SharePoint has the ability to be used as an Internet web site as well so it has many powerful publishing capabilities built in that allow your Intranet to be customized completely from a master page, CSS, HTML and layout perspective.  Why not add some design flare to your Intranet to make your employees proud to open up their browsers everyday instead of using out-of-the-box look and feel
  Integration with Outlook All lists and libraries have the ability to connect to Outlook so that you don’t ever even need to leave your Outlook client to get the SharePoint content you need. SharePoint calendars, tasks, contacts can all be shown in their native Outlook calendar views and any other list and library can be synced as well
  Shared Calendars A departmental calendar or other shared calendar list can be used to input into SharePoint and be shared on various SharePoint pages or even with Outlook.  3rd party apps can help facilitate Shared Calendars across your farm.
  Combined or Calendar Overlays Using the Calendar Overlay capability to merge multiple calendars in SharePoint or Exchange and show them on the Intranet.  This can also be done with 3rd party web parts.
  Event/Holiday Listing On the home page of many Intranets, organizations list various corporate or departmental events to be occurring in the future or even upcoming holidays.  This can be in calendar or list form with the event name, description, and date & time
  Mini-Calendars Sometimes events or holidays or shown in a mini-calendar web parts with the events shown upon highlight of the day.  You can do with this with out of the box SharePoint web parts or 3rd party web parts
  Light boxes and Modal Dialogs Modal dialogs or Light boxes typically are popups which focus on certain content or forms and darken or dim the surroundings.  This focuses the users attention with the content they are interested without all of the noise around it–-part-5-modal-dialogs/ 
  How to procedures and SharePoint Tips of the Day The typical end user is still learning SharePoint.  Intranets typically have a help desk or how to section which points them to resources on how to use their SharePoint Intranet.  This could be in the form of online videos which walk them through, links to resources, presentations or Tips of the day web parts
  Search and Library Document Previews Finding the information you want easily and quickly are key to a successful Intranet.  Previews of documents during searches or in libraries allows users to find the document they want without opening it up.  Sometimes meta-data is just not enough.  FAST or 3rd part web parts or applications can help facilitate this
  Stock Quote Web Part Showing the organization’s live stock quote through a custom or 3rd party web part
  Surveys and Polls Creating a quick survey or poll on your Intranet allows organizations to get quick feedback on item and show the results to the entire organization.  This can be done with out of the box surveys or 3rd part web parts
  Localized Weather Web Parts Showing the current and future weather for the currently logged in user through custom or 3rd party web parts
  Ratings Allowing your Intranet users to rate content and showing those rating to other users using native SharePoint 2010 functionality.  Can be used in page layouts & search.
  Quote, Art, Tip of the Day Rotating quotes, art, and tips through 3rd party or custom web parts to keep your Intranet home page fresh and changing,  Tip of the day web parts can help educate your users on SharePoint functionality.
  Daily Dilbert Rotating cartoons and fun web parts to make your employees laugh through custom or 3rd party web parts
  World Clocks Showing the time for the different organizations locations through custom or 3rd party web parts
  Constructive Feedback on Content Creating custom functionality for users to submit moderated comments on content and searches.  This allows Intranet owners a pro-active mechanism of identifying content that is outdated, irrelevant, just wrong, confidential or abusive
  Tagging Tags are an out of the box feature in SharePoint 2010 that makes it easy to, categorize information, find and share information about content.
  Knowledge Base Wikis Knowledge base wikis are a way of keeping a living knowledge base where any users can fast and easily contribute using SharePoint 2010 out of the box or 3rd party wiki functionality
  Employee Classifieds Create a system to allow your staff to post personal or business items for sale or positions needed through custom or 3rd party functionality
  Twitter and Yammer Web Parts Use 3rd party or custom web parts to roll up your external Twitter and Yammer accounts to your Intranet home page
  Rotating News & Announcements Banners Rotating banners driven by SharePoint content make the site alive, fresh and allow users to interact by having them auto rotate or interact to rotate.  These rotating banners on your Intranet can give your users access to content as well as images pulled from your SharePoint News or Announcements lists.  These can be in the form of the out of the box Image Viewer, JQuery, 3rd party or custom web parts.
  Centralized Metadata Management using the Term Store  Now with SharePoint 2010 you can manage your metadata and terms at the Enterprise level using the Term Store rather than at the site or list level
  RSS Feeds Use out of the box or custom web parts to show RSS Feeds for your external company web site or Industry news
  Multi-lingual Create your SharePoint Intranet in such a way that is accessible to all of your users in various global locations in the language of their choice.  Use out of the box functionality like language toggle, language packs and variations or 3rd party functionality to facilitate it
  Making your Intranet for people of all abilities and disabilities WCAG 2.0 – “Making your Intranet usable by people of all abilities and disabilities and designed in a fashion where all users can have equal access to information and functionality”. SharePoint 2010 has some big investments in accessibility such as Dialogs, Ribbon, Short-cut keys, Tab Access, Keyboard Support, ToolTips, Aria.  Although this is a great start, some additional work is needed to make it fully complaint which you can do in a custom fashion or through 3rd party add-ons
  Employee Birthdays and Spotlights Use content query or content type web parts to spotlight your Employees on a daily or weekly basis and announce any birthdays, anniversaries, awards, births or any other recognition
  Micro-Blogging Micro-blogging is a form of indirect messaging your employees to start a conversation or present quick tid-bits of information.  It’s like Twitter for the organization.  You can use out of the box Note-board capabilities or 3rd party applications
  Executive Blogging Have a section for an Executive blog on your Intranet where your CE Office can post on current company events, news, strategies and announcements.
  Mobile and Tablet Access With tablets and smart phones becoming more mainstream communication mechanisms, Intranets will need to be created in a fashion where they can be fully compatible from an interaction and viewing standpoint.  SharePoint 2010 out of the box does not give very mobile friendly views but can be customized to do so with custom coding or 3rd party applications
  Staff Directory Create a Staff directory list that can easily be sorted, searched, filtered to find information on co-workers.  This can be integrated with AD and your User Profile Service through custom work or 3rd party add-ons.
  Organizational Chart Browser As long as your organization has the manager field populated in Active Directory and the User Profile Service is configured correctly, SharePoint out of the box gives you a nice little organizational browser view to browse through your Organizational chart.
  Offline Access and Out-of-SharePoint Experience Microsoft SharePoint Workspace gives off-line access to all of your lists and libraries on your SharePoint Intranet.  This is especially for mobile travelling workers.  There are also many 3rd party off-line options which can help facilitate offline access.
  Global Notification and System Status A section on your Intranet which you can post various system’s statuses, whether they are temporarily unavailable or being worked on.
  Team, Collaboration, Project Sites Create out of the box or customized sites for your projects and collaboration and to store documentation
  Idea Generation and Crowdsourcing  Using you Intranet for sharing ideas, initiatives, issues, services, policies, and procedures across the entire organization.  This increased engagement of your employees and increases employee satisfaction while decreasing organizational cost (i.e. email).  This also allows direct access to your executive team if they stay involved.  This can be facilitated by custom or 3rd party applications.
  LOB Integration through BCS Show data from other systems on your Intranet using BCS functionality.  This includes information directly from other databases rendered as SharePoint lists offering the same set of features as SharePoint lists.
  My Sites Use of out of the box SharePoint My Site functionality that offers a lot of organization, personal content, social tagging and notes, colleagues and membership functionality that might be useful to your Employees
  BPA – Workflows and Forms Use out of the box, SharePoint Designer, custom made or 3rd party applications to generate workflows against documents, list items, lists and libraries to facilitate your internal Intranet business processes (i.e. Request a Vacation) and render it nicely using InfoPath form list items.  The idea is to bring the power of creating workflows to the business rather than IT.  SharePoint Designer and other 3rd party tools can help facilitate this (i.e. Nintex, K2, etc…)
  Document Co-Authoring Using SharePoint as your platform to allow co-authoring on Microsoft documents.  2 or more people can work on the same document at the same time!
  Governance Before any sort of Intranet deployment, ensure a clear and concise Governance strategy from Technical, Operational, Content, Communication, Project & Compliance Standpoints.   Tools are available with the Governance of your Intranet including items like Reporting, Alerting, Auditing, Managing and Backing up and Restore.  These tools can further help with managing permission and security during onboarding and offboarding of employees which SharePoint 2010 natively is lacking.
  Delegate Authoring Allowing departments and business units to author and maintain their own content
  Trusting your information won’t be lost Ensure a backup/restore strategy, disaster recovery strategy, recycle bin maintenance, identifying and archival of Mission Critical Content
  Website Integrity Ensuring application, OS, security, features and bugs patch level, allowing your users to be confident in using their Intranet
  Little or No Downtime Ensuring a monitoring process to ensure little downtime, don’t want the users to lose confidence in their system
  Speed Make sure your Intranet pages load as fast as possible.  Leverage SharePoint or 3rd party caching mechanisms, optimize your DB and content and just ensure that you have your environment as to the best practices for optimization.


Future Trends

My guess where the future trends will reside for the year 2012 and beyond:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *