Skip to main content

September 28, 2021

Secrets of the Best Intranets, Part 3: Digital experience platforms vs. SharePoint


Summary: In a recent survey, we found that SharePoint is the most widely used platform—coming in at 27%. But why? SharePoint is a tech decision, not one that puts users first. Find out why we recommend using an experience-based platform instead.

Does accessing your intranet feel like an epic journey through a vast maze of file structures? 

There has to be a better way. 

According to Wikipedia, “SharePoint is primarily sold as a document management and storage system.” While it is configurable, it is not a platform for user experience. This is one of the biggest points of failure for intranet projects. 

When we look at the top performing intranets, only 9% of them were on SharePoint. From our experience and decades of conversations with marketing and IT departments, we’ve found that most organizations decide to use SharePoint simply because they already own it. But that’s not a good enough reason. 

Advantages of a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)

The next five most-used platforms in the survey were experienced-based. These are the same types of platforms we use to create much-loved public sites. You know them as content management systems or digital experience platforms. To throw more acronyms at you, let’s call them DXPs for short. 

DXPs are built to manage and deliver content through a dynamic user experience across all devices. Most importantly, they can be designed and built to the way you work rather than you having to conform to them.

Given what we’ve said about engagement strategy, it’s no surprise that intranets built on experience-based platforms were seen as almost 3x as effective than when built on SharePoint. Or to put it another way, 72% of intranets that were ranked a 1 or a 2 out of 5 were built on SharePoint. 

Side note: An interesting data correlation we found was that 44% of healthcare organizations using an experience-based platform also had a written strategy, compared to only 23% of organizations using SharePoint. (Read more about the importance of written intranet strategy here.)

DXPs create efficiency

The benefits of using an experienced-based platform don’t end there:

  • You can build your intranet and your public websites on the same platform, which saves on license fees and makes sharing content and data between digital properties easy
  • Using a single platform means web content managers need less training and can more easily support your internal and external sites—a clear benefit to those who are resource strapped

DXPs integrate with SharePoint

All that sounds great, but for many organizations, SharePoint still provides an important role in document management and isn’t going away anytime soon. This doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Most quality experienced-based platforms have SharePoint connectors that allow you to maintain taxonomy and access in SharePoint while creating a more effective and engaging experience for users. This is a hybrid approach that we have found works for some organizations.

Your platform is part of a larger conversation

Making these changes won’t happen overnight, but you can move the needle. Here are some actions you can do now to start the process:

  • Start a conversation to put people first.
  • Put together a survey, analytics data, and feedback to share with executives. 
  • Examine ownership of intranet and how that impacts the experience—ask yourself would changing that ownership improve UX? What would it take to make some adjustments?
  • Find out what your users’ top tasks are (and their frustrations) and how to address them.

Everyone deserves a seat at that table. Remember, your intranet is how your team members connect. The more effective it is for everyone, the more people will use it and keep using it to do their jobs well. And isn’t that what we want? 100% yes.  

If you’re looking to learn more, we can provide a high-level, side-by-side comparison, including pros and cons of the SharePoint, DXP, and hybrid approaches. Watch the full webinar on the Secrets of the Best Intranets here. Want to see the full survey or need something else? Reach us here.