How to get stunning digital experiences with Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is the most widely used Enterprise Content Management system (ECM). More than 250 thousand companies are using it with around 200 million users as a collaborative tool to store and share documents and other content assets.

In this article, let’s take a peek into how to improve the value and efficiency of your SharePoint investment by adding powerful digital experiences to engage with different stakeholder groups.

But first let’s look at what SharePoint does extremely well and why it is so widely used.

What makes SharePoint so popular?

SharePoint is a really solid and yet flexible infrastructure platform that allows companies and their system integrators to customize numerous different use-cases.

  • SharePoint users can upload documents and content assets in the SharePoint library. They can access these documents online from anywhere.
  • It is perfectly integrated for off- and online use with and even part of the Office365 product suite – containing Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Teams.
  • What users probably love most about it, is the ability to define offline folders for their favorite libraries. That is where OneDrive, Microsoft’s Cloud storage comes into play.
  • To collaborate with your team, you can create a SharePoint team site. A SharePoint site works as an online intranet and helps you interact with fellow users and share files with them. Plus, SharePoint allows you to add a list or a library to your SharePoint team site.
  • SharePoint offers enterprise-grade security and can easily be used by any size of company. Secure file sharing, rights management for team websites and libraries, or authenticated collaboration within the organization are what IT departments love about SharePoint.
  • Finally, SharePoint lets organizations integrate with other business software platforms like ERP solutions (e.g., SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, or Oracle), CRM solutions Cloud, Pipedrive, Salesforce, and many more.

At the same time, many end-users are having difficulties with some of the limitations of SharePoint. The upcoming sections are dealing with the question of how to harness the strengths of SharePoint while empowering business users to get better digital experiences for their stakeholders.

Combining digital experiences with SharePoint libraries and why that is so necessary 

SharePoint sites are perfect for collaboration, communicating news and storing documents in libraries!

But they are not meant to deliver the sort of branded digital experience you would want and expect for external target groups such as your channel partners, or suppliers, journalists, or agencies.

The consumerization of enterprise software is advancing, and so even internal stakeholder groups would benefit from a digital experience that is geared towards their use case and expectations.

To give common example let’s assume all your sales enablement documents are stored in a SharePoint library. That’s where you would expect them.

Your internal sales people probably know where to find them. Sharing that library with channel partners already involves your IT and can prove to be a security hurdle as well as not very practical.

Even if we manage to do that. Will sharing a SharePoint site or just a library meet the expectations of my channel partners? Probably not.

“Will sharing a SharePoint site or just a library meet the expectations of my channel partners?”

In the age of powerful brands, no business can afford to go out with anything that is not perfectly-on brand.

All our users are also consumers in their private lives and are used to great digital experiences from big brands and even start-ups. They just don’t want to settle for less anymore in their professional lives.

Also, sales enablement does not end with providing documents.

A good digital experience around sales enablement requires context, storytelling, creative assets like images and videos, personalization or simple authentication. And the list goes on.

A great digital experience goes beyond mere provision of content. It tracks the activity of resellers – who downloads what, when, and how often. Through sophisticated analytics, companies gain valuable insights into which products generate the most interest, which pricing strategies are most effective, and which regions or demographics respond best to certain offerings.

Trying to achieve that with SharePoint board capabilities represents what we call a barrier of creation.

It is possible, but it requires many months of project time, development resources and budget to an extent that most of these urgently needed solutions never see the light of day.

But, the essence of staying competitive is speed and agility.

Which use cases require a level of digital experience that goes far beyond what SharePoint can do without development work?

Here are some examples – very likely you will find many others in your organization:

  • Brand Portals that give marketing teams, agencies and partners access to brand assets, brand guidelines, templates, and best practice examples.
  • Channel partner portals that enable partners to give their customers the right technical and commercial information about our products, to represent the brand correctly, to reinforce our message in the right tone with brand-specific campaigns, etc.
  • Sales enablement portals serve a very similar objective as channel partner portals, but are usually directed at internal user groups.
  • Media download centers that allow external authenticated users to search, find and download images, videos, technical specifications, etc. with a great digital experience.
  • Press Portals that get journalists to write about our product or service. To do this, they need to understand the brand’s intent and they need to be served with storytelling around them. Of course, they must be able to find and easily download all press releases with accompanying media content.

How can we overcome that barrier of creation?

Stressing a popular allegory, SharePoint is like a supertanker. It is important for the organization to work, but it is very slow to maneuver. To get ashore and back again quickly, we need speedboats.

In terms of digital experience, we need such a speedboat to create digital experiences for certain stakeholders inside and outside the organization providing the content that we already have in SharePoint to satisfy their needs for information, context, and guidance. With very little time-to-market and no budget constraints.

Of course, not every SharePoint site has to be a breathtaking digital experience, but when it comes to motivating people to use our content for us, that’s important!

Many use cases would benefit from a great digital experience, but especially those that involve influencers and multipliers such as partners, journalists, agencies, or suppliers really depend on that extra level of usability, intelligent components and on brand design.

The team behind Smint.io Portals researched the most pressing requirements business users are facing today when it comes to staying ahead of the curve in in regards these requirements.

Breaking the barrier of creation

  • Easy and fast creation with no help of IT-developers so called No-code
  • No significant additional investment
  • State of the art digital experience for the creators and end-users
  • Strong focus on visual design with videos and imagery
  • Frictionless access management for internal and external users
  • Seamless access to SharePoint libraries
  • Multi-language support including on document metadata
  • Easy search and download
  • Support for individual collections and sharing

The recipe for Smint.io Portals

That has been what the Smint.io team had in mind when we developed Smint.io Portals. There are business users in 250 thousand companies out there – big and small, that are longing for that speed boat. We built it.

Gert Fahrnberger

Are you curious how this elevates your SharePoint investment?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch now!

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