SharePoint Intranets-In-A-Box 2018 edition from Clearbox Consulting

by | Nov 30, 2017 | Intranets, Reviews

The moment you open up this 2018 edition of SharePoint-in-a-box Intranet Products you will realise it is far more that just a listing of products. Over the last few years the intranet-in-a-box business has grown very rapidly. The 2016 version of this directory had 6 entries but now this edition has 42. I should highlight at the outset is that this report covers just SharePoint-based products and there are others (such as Oak with a twenty-year history) on the market. The days of taking a specification to a design agency and asking for a custom intranet are surely over, even for larger organisations. For this edition the scenarios and evaluation criteria have been revised and this has led to some changes in the scoring for products listed in the 2017 edition. The scenarios are now News Publishing (3.3), User Experience (2.6), Social and Knowledge Management (2.3), Search (2.1), Analytics (1.2), Employee Services (1.1), Integration (2.1) and Wildcard (2.6). The numbers are the average scores across all the products. The Wildcard heading is a sort of vendor choice – a signature application that they are especially proud of, which explains the good average score. There are full profiles and reviews of 34 vendors and shorter summaries of a further 8 which are either very recent or niche products.

As you move into the directory the quality of the design is immediately very striking. As an example, each vendor has a full page image graphic with a single sentence summary that enables a reader to find a product very easily by scrolling through the pdf thumbnail. It is this attention to detail that makes the directory a pleasure to read. The team behind the report was led by Sam Marshall and included James Dellow, Wedge Black, Andrew Marr and Chris Tubb, with editing and production by Steve Bynghall, Val Skelton and designer Paul Florescu. It is important to note that each vendor demonstrated their product to a reviewer against the scenarios – this is not just an edited collection of web site highlights. It is clear that the vendors now see how important it is to be included in this report, as evidenced by most being brave enough to give some indications of price points.

The sections for each product review are

  • Summary
  • “In their own words”
  • Corporate information, including typical customer size (in seats)
  • Summary ratings
  • Price bands
  • Deployment and implementation
  • Support
  • Review of functionality against scenarios and a score for each scenario
  • Product highlights
  • Overall assessment and suggestions for future enhancements

The screen shots in the Products section would be a source of ideas for any intranet manager. I think that this section might usefully be earlier in the profile so that they provided a context for the review section and looked less like a postscript.

Overall what comes across is the depth of experience of the review team. The comments are always informed and incisive, not just edited versions of publicity material. The introduction sets out very clearly the benefits and issues around using out-of-the-box products in general and SharePoint-based products in particular. There are also good cross-comparison tables to help you build an initial short list of potential vendors. The price  for a 430 page report is $595 though payment in sterling and euros is of course available.

Some years ago now I was a regular judge for the annual Directory Publisher Association awards. This directory would have been up there with the very best. It represents an outstanding contribution to the intranet industry and the intranet community from a team who have to keep their consulting businesses alive at the same time as compiling a directory of such high quality for a global audience.

Martin White