Why & How You Should Federate Your Business Apps Under Your Intranet

With the high accessibility of digital work tools, the rise of low maintenance cloud computing and the evolving work culture and digital nativeness of newer generations of workers, companies today find themselves dealing with an increase in the sheer number of work tools.

Sales teams use CRMs, customer support teams rely support ticket systems, finance and human resources people use financial management and human capital management software, and the list goes on.

Communication is no longer only done through email but also via instant messaging, videoconferencing, company forums and enterprise social network systems. Documents are shared through content management systems and cloud file storage solutions. In this regard, it is even not uncommon for different teams throughout the organization to be using duplicate tools that actually overlap in their purpose.

Why this matters today?

While many of these unfederated tools may work fine in isolation for the teams using them, your organization as a whole—should it be affected by this phenomenon—has not yet achieved an effective digital workplace. It is still stuck in one phase of the evolution of digital work where the focus is still on tools and features under separate varying contexts instead of on your overall employee experience.

Digital transformation is happening to an extent whether we are aware of it and actively leading it or not. This multitude of often great tools is a result of such transformation but it can easily get stuck at that state of total disconnectedness and lack of any organization-wide vision as to what digital transformation means to the organization and what long-term benefits it should bring to it as a whole.

Letting this multitude of tools thrive with no such strategy in place further nurtures organizational silos in which your teams would remain trapped, which in turn result in problems relating to poor knowledge management, decreased employee alignment, lower innovation potential, higher total costs of ownership, etc.

So what are the main measures that we feel can be taken in order to pave the way to a more unified digital workplace?

Choose your gateway

A first consideration is to have a clear idea about what will be the one official umbrella under which all of your business apps will be federated and presented to your end users.

Many organizations may lean toward using their dusty old traditional intranet portal site for this. That may not be the best possible scenario at hand though since we’re seeing that there’s a handful of important things that traditional intranets fail at today.

At eXo, our experience leads us to believe that modern digital collaboration tools and culture should be at the heart of your intranet, and that your intranet is the backbone of your digital workplace.

For this reason, we estimate that the ideal gateway to your business app would be a collaborative intranet platform.

collaborative intranet for business appsEnsure a single entry point

Single Sign-On allows your users to login only once in order to access all the different systems they need at work. Having less accumulated time spent by employees trying to remember or, sometimes, recover or reset their passwords reduces frustration and makes for a better and quicker collaboration process.

Access your business apps from a single entry point

It also allows your system manager(s) to deal with a centralized authentication management. This improves the effectiveness and speed of disabling or removing user accounts for example.

This extends beyond internal digital workplace solutions to reach the context of external-facing digital experience solutions as well, such as customer or partner portals. Ensuring a friction-free single entry point to the portal and all the needed business apps therein improves your customer or partner experience.

single entry point to the portal and business apps 

                                                                                                                                    [Image source]

So make sure that your chosen intranet or digital experience solution does comply with your Single Sign-On needs.

Explore deeper integrations where deemed necessary

Federating links to your business apps under a collaborative portal where everyone knows to look is a great starting point. But sometimes your employee experience can be further streamlined through tailored integrations of your business apps to your collaborative intranet’s aggregated, personalized and user-centric experience.

Below is a small selection exemplifying potential deeper integrations to your digital workplace environment:

So make sure you choose an intranet framework that is highly extensible, and then pick (or invest in creating) the integrations that will add business value to your digital workplace and your employee journey.

Moving forward, it helps to then maintain control within your streamlined digital workplace on which business apps are actually being used and which aren’t, work to gradually decrease any potential duplicate tools and always keep the best tools for the job.

In this previous article, we share a few experience-driven tips on how to achieve that.

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I am a product marketing manager for enterprise software solutions at eXo Platform. My role involves supporting and leading marketing and operational activities for our digital collaboration platform. My contributions to this blog revolve around the exciting and fast-paced world of enterprise digital transformation, team collaboration, open-source technology and making the most out of eXo Platform.

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