Over the last few years, Valo has developed very quickly into one of the leading intranet-in-a-box platform based on Office 365 or SharePoint. However, Microsoft has also progressively upgraded the SharePoint intranet experience, most notably with the “modern” pages, which were first introduced in the cloud version and are now part of SharePoint 2019.
With the current Microsoft enterprise collaboration offering being much improved, many IT leaders have the same questions: Do I really need an additional intranet solution? What does an Intranet out of the box like Valo add to Office 365, and what’s the return on this investment?
When it comes to designing a corporate intranet, there are some key areas where SharePoint Online has some known short comings. I generally don’t suggest evaluating new technologies by focusing on individual features, but rather the entire product with its focus and goals. However, two features are worth highlighting as they are important to most organizations and simply not well addressed in the out of the box Microsoft solutions:
One feature that has been missing in SharePoint intranets for a very long time: the right support for multilingual intranets. There are many countries – such as Belgium, Luxembourg or The Netherlands - where one language is simply never enough. If you consider international organizations, your workforce is truly global and so they expect their intranet to be. Microsoft made several different attempts over the years to support multiple languages in one Intranet. The results were usually complex to achieve, not very user friendly and the topic never enjoyed the attention it really required in SharePoint product roadmaps. Valo addresses this challenge with a specific flat architecture and features that allow easy translations and reduce the complexity of managing multilingual intranet portals.
Modern workforces are increasingly global, but they are also more and more mobile. Employees want to have access to their corporate information not just at their office desk, but also in convenient ways on their mobile devices wherever they may be – whether visiting a client, in a business meeting or working from a different location.
The SharePoint App by Microsoft is, in one word, purely functional. It focusses on giving users access to their most frequently used document libraries. While this is very helpful for users who utilize SharePoint as a document repository and collaboration tool, if you want to use SharePoint for your intranet, the mobile experience can be disappointing if not implemented right. Valo offers an intranet platform and mobile app that integrate nicely with your existing Microsoft environment and display the portal the way users would expect. All data remains in your SharePoint, while permissions and control settings are centralized in Microsoft.
In the past, third-party software vendors typically offered intranet solutions with the features Microsoft products were lacking. There was a new version of SharePoint coming out every three years, so a new feature typically took three to six years to be commercially available. Software vendors capitalized on this delay and offered faster solutions to individual needs. Microsoft, on the other hand, was able to assess which solutions were popular in the market and incorporated the ideas in future releases.
In today’s modern cloud computing world, this has changed: Microsoft is much more agile and offers new releases much more frequently to make new functionality available to the customer faster. Additionally, the Office 365 suite is more complete and feature-rich than ever before. Despite all these improvements from the Microsoft side, Valo offers some features that are still simply missing in Office 365. However, the overall reason to go for Valo for your intranet is usually an entirely different one: the user experience. Valo improves the way your intranet looks and, even more importantly, the way it “feels” - the ease of use for your employees, including the intranet managers and content creators.
If you want to find out more about Valo, our webinar on-demand includes a step by step demo of the platform. Got any queries or wish to have more information? Contact us through the comments below.
Christian Knitterscheidt is Microsoft Team Lead at AMPLEXOR. With a passion in digital transformation and modern ways of working, Christian has a successful track record of more than 18 years developing digital services, leading collaboration projects and generally helping IT departments stay ahead of the curve. He’s certified in Microsoft Service Adoption and is an expert in Office 365 services, with a focus on business process automation.