Office 365 can be pretty cheap and easy to install — and the same holds true for Office 365 intranets.

While SharePoint Online or 'Sites' gives you the foundations for a top-end intranet, the process can be messy and expensive. Enter SP Marketplace (SPM), which yesterday announced the release of SP Intranet 365.

It's a cool option that includes intranets that SPM describes as active as well as intranets that come with the content personalization capabilities users expect.

Defining the Terms

"Active" refers to intranet’s ability offer notifications of news and events across the organization on a daily basis.

This is in contrast to traditional intranets, which serve as repositories for company announcements, news, events and documents that must be manually updated to remain current and interesting.

As its name suggests, SP Intranet 365 is built on the Microsoft Office 365 platform. But it turns Office 365 into a full Intranet structure.

But why this — and why now? Doesn't Office 365 offer these capabilities out of the-box? Well, yes and no, said Ashley Johnson, marketing coordinator for SP Marketplace. And the new offering simplifies the process of setting up an intranet, she added.

Targeted at Smaller Businesses

Small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) want to get more out of Office 365 than email. They want to turn it into an intranet that can act as an operational and communications hub for their organizations, she said.

Out-of-the-box Office 365 has a naked SharePoint Online platform, but the intranet has to be built. "With SP Intranet 365, the intranet is ready to go in a couple of days,” Johnson said.

SP Intranet 365 offers:

  • Content component catalogs that can be plugged into the intranet portal layout
  • Intranet portal templates and layouts
  • Office 365 Native branding
  • Auto content generation
  • A "MyContent" area that employees can personalize

One of the big challenges for many enterprises has been integrating processes into SharePoint or building out intranets. It's especially challenging for SMBs given the associated demands of time, resources and expenses.

To solve this, SPM offers templates for a variety of organizational functions including IT support, sales and marketing (CRM), customer service and collaboration. Using these components, customers can easily assemble their own intranet in days and maintain it using business power user skills.

The return-on-investment (ROI) is also significant, Johnson said, adding, “SP Intranet 365 allows an organization to get a much higher ROI on their cloud investment. It basically extends use of it from just Office automation to bring the business operation into the cloud with no additional investment in Office 365.”

It Saves Money, Too

For many SMBs, the biggest draw with this new option is the cost.

“SP Online only provides a team site, which is not an Intranet. A true Intranet must be developed, which traditionally has involved consultants and tens of thousands of dollars. SP Intranet 365 usually fulfills between 80 percent and 99 percent of what the customer requires. It is also completely customizable without having to play with code” Johnson said.

SP Intranet 365 is the first of a revamped suite of 365 offerings from SPM. It is also part of SP Business Suite, an integrated suite of application modules.

Next month, SPM will be announcing SP Business Suite 365, which brings other business solution modules into the new architecture. Later this year, it will rollout vertical suites for local government, nonprofits and education — verticals already targeted markets for Microsoft Office 365.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by stevendepolo.