Vacation requests, project details and Corona hygiene rules - the amount of information that is disseminated and exchanged daily on a company's intranet or via a collaboration tool is enormous. Not least because of the Corona pandemic, the issue of location-independent communication has become one of the major challenges in the digital workplace. For many companies, this raises the question of the differences between intranets and collaboration tools. In the following, we will therefore present their possible uses and functionalities in more detail.
Gone are the days when the intranet portal was a static gimmick. Today, the corporate intranet is both the digital mouthpiece and publishing platform of the company. All employee-relevant information is storedhere and made available for consumption. This includes not only the latest news, but also important documents, applications and manuals. Communication via an intranet therefore works in exactly one direction: from the company to its employees. Collaboration tools are different. Here, the focus is on the exchange between employees. They can talk to each other about projects, discuss questions, work on documents and also store them there in their final form.
The term publishing intranet (also often: social intranet, intranet or business intranet) describes a central information portal that makes company-relevant information available digitally. Thus, information such as work instructions, company manuals, news or events can be published. This form of intranet is suitable for providing information that affects all employees in the company and must be made available centrally. In contrast to collaboration tools, employees can only consume information here. Interaction is not possible.
The term collaboration, which also often appears in connection with the term communication, describes the exchange of information within a defined group of people, for example between departments or in project groups. The goal of a collaboration tool is to provide employees with a platform that enables them to work together on projects and exchange information about them.
In the meantime, there is virtually an oversupply on the intranet market. Numerous providers, including many small companies, offer intranet solutions for different needs. The most popular social intranet tools are SharePoint, Coyo, SAP Jam and Jive, to name just a few. 2020 was also the year of collaboration tools, thanks to corona-conditioned home offices, with MSTeams at the forefront. Below we present two solutions from Microsoft, both part of the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) package:
SharePoint online is a Microsoft 365 service offering that focuses on centralized, enterprise-wide information delivery. SharePoint includes the following core functionalities, among others:
Teams has gained strong momentum since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic and has become the number one communication tool in many companies. The software offers the same interest groups the opportunity to collaborate on a mobile basis. For employees who work from home, MSTeams thus represents a suitable alternative to personal exchange in the office. A sophisticated system of chat functionalities, webcam meetings and many other features enables teams to work and communicate with each other digitally, regardless of location. This means that ongoing projects do not stand still, even with high remote numbers, and can continue to be worked on together in team rooms without any problems. A key advantage of Teams is that external users can also be granted access rights. This means, for example, that customers and suppliers can also be invited to team rooms and work together on concepts and project plans. Although this does not replace face-to-face meetings, it does enable contacts to be maintained even in times of Corona.
Microsoft wouldn't be Microsoft if it didn't have a solution for this as well. Like all components of the Microsoft 365 package, SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams can also be used in combination. MS Teams can then serve as a central entry point into digital corporate communication. An integration of SharePoint Online makes it possible to jump easily and conveniently from Teams to SharePoint.
Although intranets and collaboration tools appear to be similar at first glance, they differ significantly in terms of their functionalities. Intranet platforms serve companies primarily as a communication platform for internal matters. Photos of the Christmas party can be shared here, as can hygiene rules and the current employee handbook. Collaboration tools, on the other hand, are characterized by their interactive approach. For example, MS Teams allows project groups to work together, share documents and exchange information live via video chat. Our conclusion: Either - or? No, both!