2024’s Top 3 Trends to Modernise and Secure Your SharePoint Intranet

As we venture into 2024, a trio of emerging trends are set to redefine the landscape of SharePoint intranets. In an era where workplace dynamics are in a state of flux, the technological foundation of Microsoft 365’s digital workplace is gearing up for a substantial makeover.

2024 is expected to see generative AI, particularly in the form of Copilot, playing a crucial role in reshaping SharePoint intranets. However, it’s important to remember the old adage: ‘garbage in, garbage out’. To extract the maximum benefit from Copilot or any AI tool, it’s essential to put your affairs in order first. While ensuring effective governance might not be the most exhilarating task, it’s becoming increasingly relevant. A well-managed intranet is the key to unlocking the potential of future advancements.

As remote and hybrid working models become more entrenched, the onus is on creating a SharePoint intranet that is centred around the user. Providing an experience that is both intuitive and engaging, where staff can find personalised news, relevant content, and resources, is crucial.

Embedding AI in Your SharePoint Intranet

Research suggests that employees spend a significant portion of their working week – roughly 25% – searching for and collating information from their intranet. AI made a resounding impact in 2023, marked by the overwhelming popularity of ChatGPT, the debut of Microsoft’s Copilot, and the ascent of ‘generative AI’ from a niche concept to a mainstream buzzword. However, its practical application, especially within SharePoint intranets, was not widespread. In 2024, this is poised to change.

Microsoft envisions AI as a pivotal element in the future of SharePoint, with Copilot at its core. With a massive influx of data into SharePoint monthly, the integration of AI is not just an enhancement; it’s a necessity for a smarter way of working. Expect AI to drive personalised experiences, refine search capabilities, streamline content management, and facilitate the introduction of chatbots and virtual assistants for routine tasks.

Copilot’s integration into SharePoint is set to be a game-changer, simplifying content creation and allowing the use of natural language for various functions.

The Imperative of Robust Intranet Governance

A successful SharePoint intranet hinges on solid governance. Disorganised, untagged, or outdated data can significantly diminish the effectiveness of your search function and, by extension, the efficiency of AI integrations like Copilot.

Make 2024 the year to align with your IT department in setting comprehensive policies for content management, data use, and user conduct. These policies will ensure consistency and security across your SharePoint intranet. Introduce role-based access controls to safeguard sensitive data and maintain data integrity. Implement a content lifecycle policy that automatically manages the archiving or deletion of outdated content.

Regular audits, in collaboration with IT, are essential to promptly identify and resolve any issues, thereby maintaining the security and compliance of your intranet. The launch of ‘SharePoint Premium’ at the end of 2023, featuring “Data Access Governance” (DAG), promises to streamline SharePoint governance, prepping it for the AI capabilities that Copilot brings.

Introducing AI into your SharePoint intranet without robust governance could lead to data breaches and compliance issues. Beyond ensuring best practices, effective governance enhances the accuracy and reliability of content feeding into AI systems, ensuring valuable and trustworthy outputs for users.

Viva Connections: The New Gateway to SharePoint Intranet

Viva Connections, a component of Microsoft’s Viva suite, is poised to become the central interface of the Microsoft 365 environment. It aggregates content from Microsoft 365, like Microsoft Feed and SharePoint news, into a single view within Microsoft Teams.

Tagged as an ‘employee experience platform’, it will take centre stage in your Microsoft 365 ecosystem in the upcoming year, with Microsoft heavily investing in its functionality. Its deep integration with SharePoint sites and content makes it easier for employees to access relevant information, news, and resources through their personalized Viva Connections dashboard in Teams. This approach is particularly advantageous in enhancing engagement, especially among frontline workers.

Rather than being just another channel for content distribution, Viva Connections acts as a hub to surface information and bolster employee engagement. Administrators have the flexibility to customise what appears on users’ Viva Connections homepages, News Spotlights, and dashboards, ensuring that relevant and targeted content is disseminated efficiently.

Preparing for the Future of SharePoint Intranets

As we step into 2024, SharePoint intranets are at the brink of a significant evolutionary phase. By embracing AI integration, prioritising strong governance, and utilising tools like Viva Connections, you have the opportunity to transform your SharePoint intranet into a vibrant, future-ready platform.

In essence, 2024 marks the beginning of a new era for SharePoint intranets, one where embracing technological advancements, ensuring robust governance, and leveraging innovative tools like Viva Connections will be key to creating a dynamic, effective, and engaging digital workplace.