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What is a smart intranet?

The corporate intranet must be carefully created, focusing on different aspects. From employee engagement, to content creation, to people services, to monitoring and governance. Nothing should be underestimated if you want to have a successful intranet.

Here is a list of factors that make a smart intranet.



1. It is a real work tool

The intranet helps workers go about their daily tasks, increasing their productivity and well-being in the company. With the advanced features of platforms such as SharePoint Online, the intranet can be designed to:

  • facilitate the search for information
  • improve communication among colleagues
  • disseminate up-to-date content and news
  • manage the creation, sharing, and storage of documents

If users cannot find a compelling reason to use the intranet, whether it is because it does not offer the right functionality or because there is a lack of training on its proper use, it will be abandoned shortly after go-live. Attention to the practicality and usability of the intranet is therefore critical if the resources invested by the company in creating it are not to be wasted.



2. It is designed around the user

The intranet must meet the specific needs of a company and the people in it. Resuming the focus on practicality, it is not enough for the intranet to offer functionality to simplify business processes, but it must also support users' work with personalized content based on their preferences.

Using SharePoint Online, the intranet becomes the single point where global content for the entire company can be found along with:

  • News and communications specific to department, location or role
  • Updates on initiatives of interest to the user
  • Internal contacts relevant to your needs
  • Your favorite applications, FAQs and documents

And much more.

What is is the ready-to-use corporate intranet, designed to reduce costs and implementation times, thus creating a collaborative and modern digital work environment:

  • Initial price of 3,650 €/year for a complete intranet
  • 50+ applications, including advanced search, document management system, push notifications via Teams, personal profile, and FAQ pages
  • 100% integrated with SharePoint Online and Microsoft 365


3. It reaches users wherever they are

Information and knowledge are essential to a successful business and should be available to everyone directly from their desktop. Whatever they are doing, wherever they are and on any type of device.

SharePoint's intranet can be integrated with Microsoft Teams to simplify the sharing of important news and content by sending customized push notifications. At, we have developed a component that takes care of this very process to enable companies to:

  • inform people in real time
  • engage users with targeted notifications
  • monitor engagement with internal communications
  • ensure maximum reception of the most important news



4. It lets people learn more about the company

How often does it happen that you need information but don't know where to turn in the company to get it?

SharePoint Online's intranet brings together in one place in the company's digital workplace the contacts, documents, communications, services and applications that users need to get their work done, without interruption and without wasting time on research.

The people directory and organizational chart are some of the features we add to our clients' intranets so users can learn more about their organization and immediately find colleagues with answers to their questions.



5. It connects colleagues

Okay, we know that the list of employees available on the intranet helps to get a better understanding of the company, but how can users quickly contact a colleague? How can they connect to share documents or work together on a project?

Once again, SharePoint intranet integration with Microsoft Teams is the answer. Teams can indeed connect users, streamlining the sharing of information and real-time updates.

In the intranet's people directory, users can find the Teams contact of colleagues they need to talk to and reach them with a click.

We have already talked about push notifications, but it is worth mentioning that thanks to this feature, the company can also connect more quickly with its people, keeping them updated on the latest initiatives and achievements together.



6. It facilitates collaboration

You can bring together company projects and initiatives in the intranet, highlighting them according to the company's needs or relevance with the department, role and activities of users.

The SharePoint Online intranet can also provide quick access to project groups, providing specific functionality for real-time collaboration and coordination of activities.

Finally, each department should have its own space on the intranet.

The corporate website can be enhanced with a section dedicated to people, initiatives, and department-specific communications. In this way, information useful to a department's activities can be collected and shared without getting lost in the global communication flow.



7. It helps you find what you're looking for

Only 1 percent of people with an intranet in the company are satisfied with search results.

Relying on outdated technology, the intranet cannot offer the right support that is needed to increase productivity and especially end-user satisfaction. A high dissatisfaction rate leads to rapid abandonment of the portal, for which the company has invested a significant amount of resources.

Relying on a state-of-the-art, constantly updated platform such as SharePoint Online, however, is only the first step. In fact, intranet administrators should plan some key activities aimed at identifying areas for improvement and thus increasing user satisfaction. Among these activities, we emphasize:

  • Monitoring of searches and recurring questions
  • Collection of feedback, with surveys and questionnaires

Once users' needs have been identified, the intranet can be enriched with new content and functionality to support the work of all people in the company.



The intranet is not just an internal site for company news.
It is primarily a network of people who bring it to life, use it, read it, enrich it, help it grow, and take care of it day by day.
It is the digital version of your workplace.

[Giuseppe Marchi - Microsoft MVP]

8. It provides daily utility services

Search functions are indispensable for working optimally. Therefore, the SharePoint intranet is the best tool for:

  • provide request forms
  • tools for reserving company resources
  • access services and conventions



9. It allows you to express your personality

The success and failure of a company is always based on its culture and how people are valued.

The intranet should enable all members of the company to share their skills and knowledge, to make themselves known to their colleagues. Human resources could also view the shared information to propose new career opportunities or select candidates for open positions directly from people already in the company.



10. It keeps users engaged

If engagement is high, productivity and well-being increase. Therefore, the intranet should accompany the convenience aspect, with features to support daily activities, with experiences aimed at engagement such as gamification.

Gamification allows people to participate in shared competitions, games and activities that improve relationships with colleagues, but not only that. Within the intranet, these experiences can in fact serve to make internal training more engaging through quizzes and contests with prizes.



11. It is adopted smoothly

Adoption of a smart intranet is easier and faster.

Users need tools to understand the value of the features made available to them. Training therefore plays a key role in intranet adoption, and a smart intranet such as SharePoint Online can accommodate:

  • Webinars and training content
  • Live events with Q&A sessions
  • Guided tours to learn more about individual features



12. It supports data analysis

How to know if the intranet is working well or not? Is it really helping the company, or does it still have many limitations? Are users able to find what they need?

SharePoint Online logs and Office 365 monitoring features help you answer these questions. But they are not enough.

To know the full details of how the intranet works and how effective it is, you need native tools to track user activity and understand whether the site is making a real contribution to their productivity.



13. It supports leadership

In the age of digitization, business leaders have a myriad of innovative technologies at their disposal to:

  • coordinate teams
  • manage the onboarding phase
  • gain key insights for decision making
  • communicate directly and constructively with colleagues

With the intranet, members of management can communicate quickly with everyone in the company and receive their feedback without sending a single email or making a call.

Integrating SharePoint with Microsoft's collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, however, can make it easier to organize video calls and live streaming events. To involve all users in business initiatives, wherever they are.

Smart intranet: the main objectives

What does it mean to have a smart intranet for your company? Before we delve deeper into our vision and find out how to create a truly smart intranet with SharePoint Online, we need to know what goals the intranet needs to achieve so that the company can monitor them and evaluate the effectiveness of its investment.

The key intranet goals can be summarized as follows:

  1. Increased user engagement
  2. Improved productivity and well-being in the company
  3. Improved profitability and competitiveness of the company

The results of a smart intranet

  1. Engages users
  2. Improves productivity
  3. Increases competitiveness

"A highly engaged workforce is the difference between a company that outperforms its competitors and one that fails to grow."[source]

87 percent of workers worldwide are not engaged in the workplace. This is significant when we consider thatcompanies that manage to engage people in their activities and initiatives manage to outperform their competitors by 147 percent in terms of profit generated.

New technologies such as SharePoint Online's intranet, integrated with Microsoft 365's digital workplace, offer companies the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors through increased productivity and worker well-being.

Here's how it works:

  • With an intelligent intranet, internal communication becomes more engaging with SharePoint's content management capabilities and integration with collaboration and employee experience platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Forms and Viva.
  • If people are engaged and the intranet offers high-quality services, productivity will increase. Users will be more motivated and can save time in searching for contacts, documents, and any information they need to do their work.
  • The greater the time savings, the greater the overall profitability of the company.



How to evaluate the results of your intranet?

To evaluate how the intranet has increased your company's productivity, you can set several quantitative KPIs.

Among the direct KPIs, you could monitor:

  • Number of views per individual page
  • Number of unique users who visited the intranet
  • Number of sessions and duration of individual sessions
  • Number of content posted, searched and viewed
  • Interactions with corporate communications, including likes and comments

Among indirect KPIs, we can find:

  • Number of requests received by the corporate help desk
  • Number of emails sent to colleagues asking for information

How to create a smart intranet site:
considerations for not going wrong

To create a truly smart intranet that is capable of achieving the goals the company has set, there are certain considerations that must be made at the design stage. This is a delicate moment, one that is ignored by most companies, but one that proves to be of utmost importance in ensuring the effectiveness of the intranet and thus maximizing one's investment.

To help you avoid making mistakes when creating your intranet, here is what you need to keep in mind.

How to design a corporate intranet

1. Analysis phase

The analysis phase accounts for 70 percent of the success of an intranet project. It isthe most delicate phase, as the intranet model that can meet specific business needs and strategic goals are defined. Usually, the analysis phase involves three activities:

  1. Analysis of the context and corporate culture
  2. Analysis of the goals to be achieved (productivity, well-being, etc.)
  3. Analysis of the end user and identification of his or her main needs


1.1 Context analysis

This first activity includes:

  • analysis of the operational and strategic plans underlying internal processes;
  • analysis of the mission and values underlying the corporate culture;
  • analysis of the current communication strategy.

If the company already has an intranet portal, it is useful to analyze which features are most frequently used by users to understand how to improve the services and content offered.

In this way, you can get a clear initial idea of how to design an intranet that respects the corporate culture and is a suitable support for staff activities.


1.2 Goal analysis

Goal analysis is used to align the intranet's functionality with the strategies and goals the company intends to achieve.

Once the strategic objectives have been defined, it is necessary to outline the operational objectives. In practice, the questions that this analysis phase must answer are:

  • What tools should the corporate intranet offer?
  • How can the intranet support individual and group activities?
  • What does the company need to improve communication with workers?


1.3 End-user analysis

The intranet is made up of people.

Knowing the end user means knowing what functionality, content, and services to offer in the intranet to enable all people in the company to do their jobs better.

Target audience analysis is often underestimated because companies take the real needs of workers for granted. Unfortunately, however, a failure to analyze the end user results in the creation of a "useless" or ineffective intranet that lacks customized solutions.

But how to identify user needs?

Here are some tools we recommend using.


Focus groups and questionnaires

To conduct a careful analysis of people in the company, you can operate in two different but complementary ways. Let's talk about focus groups and questionnaires.

Focus groups represent a qualitative research technique involving a small group of people, usually between 6 and 12 participants. The discussion is managed by a moderator (usually one of the people involved in intranet design), who guides the conversation by proposing a set of questions prepared in advance.

The goal is to gather opinions, perceptions, ideas, and feedback from participants in an interactive setting. This method allows for in-depth exploration of people's motivations, attitudes, experiences and behaviors, revealing insights that might not emerge with other research techniques, such as surveys or individual interviews.

While focus groups allow us to get to know the end user through dynamic interactions and guided discussions, questionnaires provide quantitative data that can be analyzed on a larger scale.

In fact, they allow the collection of specific, structured information from a large number of respondents, making it possible to identify trends, behavioral patterns and common needs that the intranet can help meet.

When creating a questionnaire during the design phase of an intranet, it is important to emphasize that questions should not be asked about the intranet itself, but questions should be asked about people's work. You can then obtain key information regarding average IT knowledge, preferred devices and applications they use to perform their daily tasks.



Interviews are useful for getting more direct and personal feedback than insights obtained from focus groups and questionnaires. It might be useful to organize a round of interviews after making a demo of the intranet available, sampling users who have tested the prototype.

Download our questionnaire

Find out how your colleagues experience business reality and what needs you can meet by creating a smart intranet.


2. Planning for change

Today it is no longer possible to start a digital project without a plan, even more so if a project like the one to create the intranet will change the daily routine of all workers.

Having a plan means choosing who to involve in the design phase, setting the budget available, and defining the communication and training strategy to ensure intranet adoption.

Everything must be decided beforehand to avoid surprises during the project.

For this reason, we recommend:

  • Create the team responsible for the design.
  • Assess the features and resources to be included in the intranet, to set a realistic budget.
  • Identify the means of communication preferred by people in the company, the benefits the new intranet offers them, and the missing IT skills, to define a proper internal communication and training strategy.
  • Constantly monitor the collection of feedback from users and the evolution of the project.



3. Selecting the tools to be made available

We have already seen why the analysis phase is crucial in the design of the corporate intranet. Among the useful information that can be obtained, the analysis phase makes it possible to understand which tools cannot be missing from the intranet, based on users' preferences and what they need to do their jobs better.

Defining "Killer Apps" is therefore an important step in creating a useful intranet, ensuring interest and adoption by all people in the company.

After years of experience in intranet development, we have created some features that serve to achieve this goal. Below, we list some examples of our web parts that play the role of Killer App:

  • Web part for posting and applying to open positions, leveraging the personal profile of the SharePoint intranet.
  • Web part for quickly reserving spaces and resources, from desks to parking space in the company parking lot.
  • Web part to re-share posts from the company's LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok profiles.



4. Adopting the right monitoring tools

Setting goals and KPIs is not enough to ensure intranet success. You need to continuously monitor results to accurately assess the effectiveness of your investment and understand how to improve the intranet to increase user engagement and collective productivity.

There are plenty of tools to track intranet performance, some even integrated into SharePoint.

But it is not so easy to properly monitor the results of an intranet project. In fact, few of the available tools provide detailed insight into what is really important: how much and how the intranet is being used in the enterprise.

To help our clients gain useful insights to continue to improve the intranet they build together, we developed Intranet Analytics. Our component is used to measure the effectiveness of the Microsoft 365 digital workplace and SharePoint intranet, with detailed reports on user behavior.

It then allows SharePoint's analytics capabilities to be enriched to obtain information such as:

  • individual page views
  • duration of individual sessions
  • search keys used
  • access to documents
  • etc.

In addition, our functionality integrates with Google Analytics and other third-party tools for even deeper analysis of the intranet.



5. Defining the governance strategy

The day after the intranet go-live, the governance plan begins.

To address this phase successfully, there is a list of actions that should be included in one's governance program. In general, we recommend defining in advance:

  1. The external sharing options for each site.
  2. The ways of tracking the actions of external users.
  3. The modalities for provisioning new content areas in the intranet.
  4. The permissions to be distributed to internal users within the company.

How does Microsoft help us build an intelligent intranet?

Creating a smart corporate intranet is possible thanks to Microsoft 365 technologies.

In the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) product suite, SharePoint is becoming the core of many services with advanced capabilities to:

  • manage the document lifecycle
  • create and share content
  • securely store data
  • coordinate internal processes

It therefore represents the best platform for creating the intranet and transforming your company's productivity.

Here are the areas Microsoft is developing to enrich the functionality included in its digital workplace, at the center of which is SharePoint.

1. Engagement and collaboration among colleagues

There is continued investment in collaboration platforms that integrate with the SharePoint Online intranet, offering additional functionality to enhance collaboration and communication in the enterprise. Among these platforms, we cannot fail to mention Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage (the solution that took Yammer's place in the Microsoft 365 digital workplace).


2. Connecting people, news, knowledge, and applications

The publishing system found in SharePoint Online sites, most notably the intranet, is evolving. With the arrival of Home Sites and new features for on-page content creation, it is not possible to identify tools in the marketplace that can compete with SharePoint for creating an intelligent intranet.


3. Knowledge Management

We will soon see a major shift in intranet content management, and SharePoint Online is leading this transformation with the shift from information management to collective knowledge management.

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How to create an intranet site with SharePoint

To create your corporate intranet with SharePoint Online, you must first log on to to open the SharePoint application and reach the home page.

Once you are on the home page, click on the "Create site" item at the top left.

SharePoint will ask you whether you want to create a team site or a communication site.

If you do not know the difference between these two types of sites, find all the information below; otherwise, go directly to the next paragraph to go into the details of how to build the foundation of your intranet.



The difference between a team site and a communication site in SharePoint

A team or collaboration site is designed to improve the coordination and communication of users who need to work together on a project.

It includes features for managing document libraries, shared calendar and SharePoint lists through which to divide the workload among members of a team.

A communication site, on the other hand, serves to share information with a wide audience of users, which is not limited to the members of a single team.

Unlike team sites, which focus on managing business projects, communication sites thus focus on sharing news and information. The intranet is a clear example of this.

We therefore choose to create a SharePoint communication site.



The key steps to create your intranet with SharePoint

Once you choose the "communication site" option, the real process of creating the intranet begins.

To get started, Microsoft provides several templates to speed up the creation of a communication site dedicated to:

  • Crisis management
  • Department-specific content
  • Human resources services and news
  • Opportunities and internal training courses

Unfortunately, however, there is still no real ready-to-use template available for the corporate intranet. The advice is to start from scratch, using the "Blank" template.

Now is the time to choose the name of the intranet.

This is an important step, as the name must be able to enhance the brand and at the same time be easy for users to remember.

Here are some of our best practices for giving the intranet a meaningful and memorable name:


  1. Repurpose the company name.
    For example, the Contoso company could call its intranet "OneContoso" or "WeContoso (to emphasize the sense of unity and community), or opt for combining the brand with the term "intranet," resulting in this case in "InContoso."

  2. Refer to the purpose of the intranet.
    In this case, some examples might be "MyWorkplace," "Connect," "TheSpot," or "TheHub." One of our clients followed this pattern and named the intranet we designed together "ThePipeline." Another client made a truly original choice with the name "Agora."

  3. Avoid names that are too long or unpronounceable.
    Not only would they be difficult to remember, but they would also make sharing the intranet address complex.

  4. Take inspiration from what the company does.
    A nice example is from a client of ours who works in the agribusiness sector and decided to call the intranet "Mandarin." Needless to say, how the portal was customized, with orange hues and rounded silhouettes.

  5. Involve the people who will have to use the intranet.
    You can use surveys and questionnaires to gather colleagues' ideas or ask them to vote for the name they prefer among those proposed by the company.


Once you have chosen a name for the intranet, SharePoint will ask you to write a brief description of the new site and to choose the default language. Choosing the language is the second key moment in the intranet creation process, because SharePoint does not allow you to change it later.

As soon as you enter the empty site, we recommend choosing the corporate theme to apply the appropriate color palette to SharePoint controls, labels, and graphical elements. To do this, simply:

  • access Settings, top right
  • click on the "Change the look" item
  • select the theme you prefer

You can choose from templates offered by Microsoft and use them as is to speed up the creation of the intranet. Or you can choose a template and customize it, perhaps to align the palette with corporate brand colors. For more customization, SharePoint allows you to create your theme from scratch.

Also under "Change the look," you can change the appearance of:


  • Header, with specific settings for
    • layout (minimal, compact, standard and extended)
    • background color, to be enabled or not with a graduated transparency
      (the color is automatically taken from the palette chosen as the site theme)
    • title, to be enabled or not
    • logo, to be uploaded

  • Navigation bar, with specific settings for
    • adding/removing links
    • adding/removing labels (groups of links)
    • link tree, inserting sublinks for main entries
      (best not to exceed 3 levels, to maintain good usability)

  • Footer


It is then necessary to define the content of the intranet, starting with the home page.

Just select the "Edit" item in the upper right-hand corner to get started.

SharePoint Online is a powerful content management tool, allowing a myriad of different content to be placed on each of the pages of its sites.

First, Editors can change the number and formatting of the sections that make up a page to define the structure that will house the individual pieces of content.

After setting the page structure, it is then possible to insert the web parts of the textual and multimedia content supported by SharePoint. Among these, we highlight:

  • news
  • calendar
  • organization chart
  • powerBI reports
  • single images or carousels
  • microsoft Forms questionnaire
  • youTube or Microsoft Stream videos
  • etc.

Web parts can be extended with custom features such as those offered in our intranet plans.

Based on the projects carried out with our customers, we have developed more than 50 components to enrich the functionality of SharePoint Online in terms of communication, collaboration, productivity, knowledge sharing and training. For example, web parts are available in our plans to:

  • manage the entire document lifecycle
  • find internal contacts and get to know your colleagues better
  • access the company's favorite or recommended work apps
  • apply to open positions, speeding up the selection process
  • publish news and communications for user groups, using dynamic graphics and integration with Microsoft Teams to ensure maximum reception

Whether standard or custom, remember that your intranet web parts should be selected based on the real needs of colleagues and the processes that characterize your company.

Once the useful web parts have been entered, all that remains is to create, publish and constantly update the intranet content. So as to keep users' interest high over time.

To conclude, we offer below a summary table with the main steps to follow to create an intranet with SharePoint Online:


How to create an intranet site with SharePoint:
the key steps to follow


How to create an intranet with SharePoint Step Description
Create a SharePoint site Log on to, open the SharePoint app and click on the "Create site" item in the upper left corner. Select the "communication site" type and choose the "Blank" template to start building the intranet.
Name the intranet Choose a short and meaningful name. We recommend giving the intranet a name in line with your company's values or activities. The important thing is that it be a name that is easy to remember and pronounce.
Choose the default language Remember that the default language cannot be changed after the site is created. So pay attention to this step and consider which language to select based on your company's internal communication.
Apply the corporate theme Use the "Change the look" command in the settings to choose one of SharePoint's default themes or create a custom theme, which you can apply to the controls, labels, and graphical elements of the intranet.
Customize the navigation Also under "Change the look," you have the option of changing the header, navigation bar, and footer of the intranet. You can then change the layout of these elements and define the main navigation of the site, inserting or removing links available to users.
Structure content pages Select the "Edit" command at the top right to define the content of the individual pages of your intranet, inserting sections and web parts that will allow you to enrich each page with text and multimedia content.

Do you want a complete, ready-to-use intranet?

"Intranet-in-a-box" is the complete service for your company:

  • We offer you a branded intranet already integrated with Microsoft 365 and Viva.
  • We go beyond the limits of a standard corporate site with our customizable features.
  • We update all components to the latest Microsoft standards.

Simplify internal communication and digitize your business with minimal investment.


Giuseppe Marchi


Microsoft MVP for SharePoint and Microsoft 365 since 2010.

Giuseppe is the founder of and one of the leading experts in Italy in all matters related to Microsoft 365. For years, he has been assisting companies in creating their digital workplace environment on the Microsoft cloud, focusing on people's experience.

FAQ on how to create an intranet site with SharePoint

What is an intelligent intranet?

An intelligent intranet is an internal company network that supports employees' daily activities, improving productivity and well-being. It offers advanced features such as information search, communication between colleagues, document management, and updated content.

What are the main goals of an intelligent intranet?

The key goals of an intelligent intranet are: increasing user engagement, improving productivity and well-being in the company, and enhancing the company's profitability and competitiveness.

How is an intelligent intranet designed?

The design of an intelligent intranet includes several phases: analysis of the company context, definition of strategic and operational goals, analysis of end-user needs through focus groups, questionnaires, and interviews, planning for change, selection of tools and features, and continuous performance monitoring.

What are the fundamental features of an intelligent intranet?

The fundamental features include: tools for search and document management, internal communication and push notifications, contact directories, collaboration tools, dedicated spaces for departments, and support for training and data analysis.

How can effective adoption of the intranet be ensured?

To ensure effective adoption of the intranet, it is essential to offer continuous training through webinars, training content, live events, and guided tours of the features. Additionally, it is important to constantly monitor user feedback and improve the platform based on their needs.

What are the benefits of an intranet integrated with Microsoft 365?

An intranet integrated with Microsoft 365 offers numerous benefits, including: advanced document management, real-time collaboration through Microsoft Teams, content creation and sharing with SharePoint, performance analysis with PowerBI, and support for company productivity with tools like Microsoft Forms and Viva.

How can the results of an intelligent intranet be evaluated?

The results of an intelligent intranet can be evaluated through quantitative KPIs such as the number of page views, unique users, session duration, and interactions with company communications. Tools like Intranet Analytics, integrated with SharePoint and Google Analytics, help track performance and continuously improve the platform.

What are the key steps to create an intranet with SharePoint?

The key steps to create an intranet with SharePoint include: creating a communication site, choosing a meaningful name, selecting the default language, applying the company theme, customizing the navigation, structuring the content pages with sections and web parts, and keeping the content updated.

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